THE conspiracy theory fanatics will be having a field day with this.
Winnipeg Jets left-winger Evander Kane was not present for Saturday afternoon's pre-game warm-up at the MTS Centre, but played a regular turn in the 5-4 shootout loss to the New York Islanders.
Kane finished the game with an assist, two shots on goal and 22 minutes 32 seconds of ice time, above his season average.
Jets coach Claude Noel was asked about Kane's absence for the 16-minute skate before the game but danced furiously around the question.
"Sometimes things happen before that you have to miss warm-up," the coach said. "There's really no explanation other than that. Sometimes it's medical attention, sometimes it's other things.
"And sometimes it's equipment problems. There's all kinds of things that come up. I've seen guys miss complete warmups lots of times and they're on the scoresheet. There are all kinds of things that go on. That's just the way it goes."
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The Jets had to reduce their rotation to basically three lines once Olli Jokinen left the game in the first period, after two shifts.
"That was big," said Jets captain Andrew Ladd. "It pretty much dropped us down to three lines and I'm sure you could see by the guys' minutes that guys played a lot of minutes in a pretty draining game."
(Ladd played 26:47, for instance.)
" I thought guys did a great job of stepping in and Welly (Kyle Wellwood) had a great game with a couple big goals," Ladd said. "That's what happens when guys go down... other guys have got to step up."
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Winnipeg's shootout stats are not impressive this season, just 2-3 in five shootouts after Saturday's result.
It's not the worst stat in the world, however, since the NHL's first tie-breaker in the standings at the end of the season will be regular and overtime wins.
There, the Jets are not in bad shape. If they should finished tied at the end with the Rangers or Ottawa or even the Islanders, Winnipeg currently holds the upper hand against all three.
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Half full, half empty? The Jets were lamenting the lost point in the shootout, but also quick to note the point gained after rallying from a 3-1 hole.
"Obviously we would have liked to have come out of it with the two points, but I'm sure if you had asked us at the start of the six-game homestand if we went 5-0-1, if we'd take that, I'm sure everyone would have," said Ladd. "We showed a lot of character to find a way and to score that goal in the end and get a point and give ourselves a chance."
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STREAKING: Several Jets kept point streaks alive, including:
— Andrew Ladd, who had two assists to establish a new career-long point streak of seven games (4G, 10A);
— Bryan Little is now on a six-game point streak (2G, 8A);
— Blake Wheeler is now on a six-game streak (3G, 8A), tying his career best.
— Zach Bogosian picked up a goal and now has points in four consecutive game (2G, 5A), tying his career best.