On the long list of calamitous things for the Montreal Canadiens to fear, 'injury to Tomas Plekanec' ranks near the top.
The influential centre left Wednesday's 5-3 loss to Philadelphia with a sore groin, and while coach Michel Therrien intimated it isn't a serious injury, it would be a surprise if the Habs dressed their joint-leading goal scorer for Thursday's tilt against the scuffling Winnipeg Jets at the Bell Centre.
The Habs didn't practice on Thursday morning, having arrived late from Pennsylvania, but it's possible Max Pacioretty, who took a power-play slap shot from teammate P.K. Subban off the foot against Philly, could also miss out - forward Gabriel Dumont has been called up from Hamilton.
One thing that is certain: back-up goalie Peter Budaj will start in net and attempt to run his personal winning streak to five games.
Even if the Jets were playing well - they aren't, having dropped four straight - there would be a decent chance of that happening, Montreal has bucked a league-wide trend this season, chalking up points all but twice in the back end of back-to-back situations.
Winnipeg, meanwhile, is trying to regroup now that the trading deadline has passed.
The Jets' hold on the Southeast division is growing ever more tenuous, the hard-charging Washington Capitals are looming large in the rear-view.
For Winnipeg, which only has 10 games remaining, losing the Eastern conference's weakest division likely means kissing a playoff spot goodbye.
Coach Claude Noel has decided to move defenceman Dustin Byfuglien up to the right wing alongside Brian Little and Andrew Ladd to kick-start his sputtering offence, waiver pick-up Mike Santorelli could also feature on the right side.
"We've been having trouble creating offence, the other side of that is our checking game isn't been great because guys are pressing and trying to get stuff done," Noel said.
Asked why that is, Noel retorted: "have you seen our stats lately?
"Some guys haven't scored in a fair amount of time, that leads to a lot of different things. It leads to trying to help your team win and you think that's what you have to do, so that's just a natural thing, athletes want to have success. On our team, we've got a lot of offence from five or six guys, maybe, so those guys feel responsible for a lot of stuff, and they take a lot of the burden. It doesn't come from me, it's just part of being an athlete," he said.
Ondrej Pavelec will start in goal for Winnipeg.