Defenceman Tucker Poolman may play for Winnipeg Jets tonight vs. Minnesota

Defenceman Tucker Poolman may play for Winnipeg Jets tonight vs. Minnesota

Rookie defenceman Tucker Poolman may play for the Winnipeg Jets in place of the injured Tyler Myers Tuesday in Game 4 of the opening-round series against the Minnesota Wild.

Poolman, a 24-year-old from East Grand Forks, Minn., played defence in a pairing with Ben Chiarot during a morning skate at Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul. Poolman played 24 games for the Jets during the regular season, recording one goal and one assist.

Whether Poolman actually plays will be a game-time decision by coach Paul Maurice, Poolman said after the skate.

“It’s exciting. It’s kind of like playing your first game,” Poolman said of the prospect of playing in his first NHL playoff game, adding his task, if he plays, will be to control his emotions.

“It’s just like any other playoff game I’ve been in. Just go out and do your job.”

Maurice would not say whether Poolman will play.

The Jets also recalled defenceman Sami Niku from the Manitoba Moose, likely as an insurance policy.

Niku also skated with the team Tuesday morning. He scored one goal for the Jets in one regular-season game, late in the schedule against the Montreal Canadiens.

Maurice said the Jets must do a better job Tuesday evening of clearing Minnesota bodies out from in front of goalie Connor Hellebuyck, who was chased from the net on Sunday after Minnesota scored six times.

“Everything we do in front of him is important for him to play as well as he can. I know for a fact we weren’t where we needed to be in that game to give our goaltender a chance,” Maurice said.

Team captain Blake Wheeler said the Jets must be quicker on the puck tonight. He also suggested it appears the referees have had enough with cheap shots after the whistle.

“The first two games were physical and maybe bordering on crossing the line,” he said, referencing elbows to the head. ​

The Jets lead their best-of-seven opening round series 2-1. Tonight’s game starts at 7 p.m. (Sportsnet). Game 5 will be in Winnipeg on Friday.

Published at Tue, 17 Apr 2018 14:05:10 -0400