The Winnipeg Jets have been fortunate enough to avoid major injuries to their core players this season. The only exception has been center Bryan Little, who suffered an upper-body injury in early November and has yet to return to return to game action. However, Little has begun practicing with the team and the timing could not be better. The Jets’ depth down the middle has taken another hit, as center Adam Lowry has sustained an upper-body injury of his own and is expected to miss a significant amount of time. The team believes that he will miss “at least four weeks”, putting a return date some time around late February.
Lowry’s injury occurred in Sunday night’s game against the Chicago Blackhawks, when he took a blindside hit from Drake Caggiula. Caggiula was given a minor penalty for interference, but there is not expected to be any additional response from the league. Lowry got up slowly and went straight to the locker room in obvious pain and did not return. Winnipeg went on to lose 5-2, slipping to 4-5-1 in their past ten games.
Winnipeg was looking forward to Little’s return, as their struggles of late have dropped them out of the playoff picture. Now, even with Little hoping to return soon, the Jets wills till be short-handed with Lowry out. The Athletic’s Murat Ates writes that Andrew Copp will move up to third-line center for the time being, as the team awaits Little’s return and waits out Lowry’s potential month or more absence. Lowry has just ten points on the year, but is invaluable to the team in other ways. He leads the team in hits and is their most skilled face-off man, while skating on the team’s top penalty kill unit. While Copp does many of these same things well, increased ice time for Copp is not going to make up for the loss of Lowry and even Little’s return will not totally make up for his absence. The Jets will continue to have to work hard to stay relevant this season in the wake of this injury news.