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BLUES NOTES: December 13th, 2021

Weekend Wrap:

Blues Record: 0-2-0 (1-0 L vs DAU, 6-0 L @ DAU)

For the first time this season, the Winnipeg Blues failed to score a goal in a game. The Dauphin Kings pitched two shutout wins over Winnipeg to leave the Blues only three points up on the Winkler Flyers for second place in the East Division.

On Friday, Hayden Laquette scored the only goal in a 1-0 shutout win for Carson Cherepak. Winnipeg was perfect on the penalty kill and put together a solid defensive effort, mostly only giving Dauphin shots from well outside. However, Dauphin’s defense was even better, limiting the Blues to just 14 shots. Winnipeg also revealed after the game that Mathieu Moreira sustained an upper body injury in the loss.

The next night in Dauphin, the Kings came out and put on a show for the fans at Credit Union Place on their teddy bear toss night. Winnipeg gave up 40 shots for a second straight game. The Blues have now lost six of their last eight games going back to the MJHL showcase.

Upcoming week:

It’s a slightly shorter break for the Blues this week, with two games against the Waywayseecappo Wolverines starting in Wayway on Thursday, December 16.

The Blues and Wolverines faced off on November 23 at the MJHL Showcase in a tight 4-3 Winnipeg win.

Heavy, physical play is the Wayway formula, so Winnipeg will have to be ready to play hard on the boards in the slot. It also provides an opportunity for man advantages – no team has more taken more penalties this year than the Wolverines. The Blues’ coaching staff wants their team to draw more penalties, and Wayway offers a chance to go up a man more often.

The first game is on Thursday, December 16 at 7:30 p.m. in Waywayseecappo. On Saturday, December 18, the two teams fight in Winnipeg with a 7:30 p.m. puck drop.  That will be the Blues last game before the Christmas break.

News and Notes:

Zaplitny makes WHL Debut:

Winnipeg Blues forward Caden Zaplitny made his WHL debut on Friday, December 10 for the Everett Silvertips. 

Zaplitny, who has 14 points in 25 games this year with Winnipeg, scored no points and was a minus-two in a 7-5 loss to the Tri-City Americans. The next night, Zaplitny returned to the lineup, going scoreless and breaking even in plus-minus in a 5-2 loss. 

Zaplitny is expected to stay in Everett until the start of the new year. 

Moreira out for final week:

Blues forward Mathieu Moreira will be out for the final two games after sustaining an upper body injury in Friday’s match against the Kings.

Moreira is now the third member of the Blues top six who won’t be able to play in this week’s games. Moreira has 11 goals and 20 points so far this year for the Blues.

This is the first time Moreira has missed games in his MJHL career. He is expected to be fully healthy by the time the Christmas break ends.

Michaels back on the ice:

Jayden Michaels is close to returning to active duty for the Blues.

Michaels has missed the past 16 games with an upper body injury sustained against the Selkirk Steelers on October 23. Michaels has no points in his 10 games to this point this year.

Three Keys for the Week:

1st: Next Man Up

The Winnipeg Blues are missing three important forwards in the middle of their worst stretch of hockey this season. An unfortunate situation, but a chance for players to step up and take advantage of the open spots in the lineup.

Players like Sean Williams and Jake Dale stood out against Dauphin as guys who capitalized on the opportunity and tried their best to drive this team through a rough stretch. Getting more players to fill the holes left behind will be key to wins this week.

2nd: Stay Focused

With the Christmas break in sight, it can be easy to look past this week’s games, but Winnipeg can’t afford to do that. A win going in to the break will be key for the team’s ability to relax during the pause. No one wants to spend Christmas dwelling on a losing streak.

3rd: Getting to the Center

The coaches want their team to work on getting the puck off the wall and into the middle in a hurry. Winnipeg’s forwards have the skill to make those kinds of plays, it’s just a matter of executing. Expect board battles to be a point of emphasis at practice this week.