RALEIGH, N.C. - The Winnipeg Jets, in their first year back in the NHL, won’t have a representative in the all-star game.
Defenceman Dustin Byfuglien was chosen to represent the Jets in the talent showcase, which will be played on Sunday in Ottawa, but he has a knee injury and is unable to compete. The NHL replaced him with Pittsburgh Penguins defenceman Kris Letang on Monday.
Players have all made plans to go on vacation or take time off during their six-day break, so no member of the Jets is clamouring to replace Byfuglien and the team isn’t lobbying to have one there, either.
A replacement could have been Toby Enstrom, who has missed 20 games due to injury but has 18 points in 28 contests.
Byfuglien has six goals and 24 points in 35 games for the Jets, but he has been out since Christmas with a knee injury. He has resumed skating, but there is no target for his return.
Speaking of injured Jets, forwards Evander Kane (concussion-like symptoms) and Tim Stapleton (lower body) are day-to-day, head coach Claude Noel said. Noel was under the impression that Kane is not skating yet after getting hurt sometime last week.
SO CLOSE: Antti Miettinen’s second-period incident on Monday night pretty much sums up Winnipeg’s offensive problems this season.
The puck got through Hurricanes netminder Cam Ward and sat in the crease. Miettinen, who was still looking for his first goal in his 16th game with the Jets, got his stick in the vicinity, but he ended up accidentally knocking it out of the crease.
The drought continues.
“It was behind the goalie there, so I tried to reach there, and I think I fell on the goalie’s pads or a D stick somewhere in there, and I couldn’t reach it,” a solemn Miettinen said afterwards.
The Finnish winger, who was scooped up off waivers from Tampa Bay in mid-December, is trying his best not to lose his mind.
“It’s kind of going over the top now, but I just gotta battle through it. You have to try the best you can every day to turn it around,” he said.
“It’s too inconsistent. Confidence-wise and frustration is a little bit too much of a factor right now. I just gotta forget about it and focus on one shift at a time. And go easy, because the frustration is kind of taking over now.”
RANGER WATCH: The Rangers, who host the Jets on Tuesday night, have lost two of their last three at Madison Square Garden, but they still co-lead the Eastern Conference with the Boston Bruins … Defenceman Ryan McDonagh is questionable for the game after getting drilled from behind by Bruins defenceman Andrew Ference on Saturday … New York has just one power-play goal in its last eight games … The Rangers have beaten the Jets twice already this season: 2-1 in Winnipeg on Oct. 24 and 3-0 at Madison Square Garden on Nov. 6.
IN THE HANGAR: Kyle Wellwood snapped a 16-game goal drought on Monday night when he deposited a gorgeous Enstrom pass in the second period … Enstrom has a five-game point streak, while Nik Antropov, who picked up the other assist, has a four-game point streak … The Jets have still won three of four against the Hurricanes this season … Only 10 points separates first-place Florida (54) from last-place Tampa Bay (44) in the Southeast Conference. Winnipeg has 50.