By Scott Billeck – @scottbilleck
After 28 games in the formerly well-populated Winnipeg Jets infirmary, Matt Halischuk will return tonight against the New York Islanders after recovering from a fractured forearm.
Halischuk picked up the knock back on December 16th in the Jets 3-2 win over the Columbus Blue Jackets and hasn’t played since although he has been practising since the Jets returned from the Olympic break.
The 25-year-old says he is excited to get back into the fold as his team makes a push for a playoff spot.
“It’s definitely an exciting time of the year so it is great time to get back in,” said Halischuk. “It feels good, definitely that extra two weeks helped there with the Olympic break.”
The view from the press box can be a lonely one but Halischuk says he has seen a lot of good from his teammates since the hiring of Paul Maurice.
“We are playing hard and we are playing together. Whether that is the change or the guys coming together and playing hard every game, we are playing hard and giving ourselves a chance to win every night,” Halischuk said.
Maurice envisions Halischuk on the team’s top penalty killing unit opposite of Jim Slater, who recently returned from his own long-term layoff.
“I’d like him to play the way he has practised here for about a week,” said Maurice. “He is a real good pro. He is focused in every drill and he pushes himself really hard. I am looking for some chemistry there that we expect to see between Slater and Halischuk 5-on-4 as a penalty kill pair.”
Halischuk, meanwhile, is going to ascribe to the “KISS” acronym for Tuesday night’s game.
“Just keeping it simple, not doing to much,” said Halischuk. “Just trying to come out there and play hard.”
Scott’s Scribbles: Ondrej Pavelec is set to make his third straight start since returning from the Olympic break. Pavelec is 2-0-0 in that time… Eric Tangradi remains sidelined with an undisclosed injury… James Wright is out with a high-ankle sprain and there is no timetable set for his return.