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Posted On Thursday, 02.07.2013 / 2:44 PM

By Patrick Williams -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2012-2013 At the Rink blog

Maple Leafs have been road terrors this season

WINNIPEG, Manitoba -- The road has been a safe port for the Toronto Maple Leafs early in the season.

The Maple Leafs (5-5-0) have used a 4-1-0 start on the road to offset a 1-4-0 at Air Canada Centre. They continue a three-game trip at MTS Centre against the Winnipeg Jets. Toronto is fresh off a 3-2 road win against the Washington Capitals and will finish its journey with a stop at Bell Centre in Montreal on Saturday evening.

"Obviously, you've got to focus on the start," Maple Leafs coach Randy Carlyle said of facing a Jets club that has established a solid presence on Winnipeg ice. "Usually when you have success on the road, your first period is an indicator of where your game is at. You always want to establish a good start.

"We're just asking for the contribution to be more than ordinary from everybody. Ordinary is not good enough for us. We have to be better than ordinary."

However, the Toronto lineup remains rather battered. Mike Brown, Carl Gunnarsson and Joffrey Lupul are injured, though Carlyle said Brown’s return could be close. Gunnarsson remained in Toronto, where he is rehabilitating a hip injury.

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Posted On Thursday, 02.07.2013 / 2:10 PM

By Patrick Williams -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2012-2013 At the Rink blog

Jets look to put together back-to-back victories

WINNIPEG, Manitoba -- A 3-2 overtime win Tuesday night for the Winnipeg Jets eased the flow of breakdowns that plagued them on a three-game road trip last week.

Now the Jets (4-4-1) have a Thursday night date with the Toronto Maple Leafs at MTS Centre to try to mitigate further some of the damage from the 0-3-0 sojourn. With a road visit to the Ottawa Senators on Saturday followed by home meetings with the Philadelphia Flyers, Pittsburgh Penguins and Boston Bruins, the Jets need to start collecting points.

The Jets will not be receiving any injury relief against Toronto, however. Zach Bogosian nudged closer to an eventual return from offseason wrist surgery and participated in his first morning skate of the season with the Jets. However, Jets coach Claude Noel said afterward that Bogosian remains "a ways away" from making his season debut. Dustin Byfuglien also participated in the Jets' morning skate, but he will miss his fourth consecutive game with an undisclosed injury.

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Posted On Tuesday, 02.05.2013 / 2:19 PM

By Patrick Williams -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2012-2013 At the Rink blog

Panthers hope to keep rolling in Winnipeg

WINNIPEG, Manitoba – The Winnipeg Jets proved to be a good tonic for the Florida Panthers last week, and the Panthers hope that an encore engagement Tuesday night at MTS Centre will provide a similar result.

Florida thumped Winnipeg last Thursday at BB&T Center, using a five-goal third period to take a 6-3 decision. The Panthers followed that effort with a 4-3 road win at Buffalo that began a four-game road trip. The back-to-back two-point efforts have taken some of the sting out of a season-opening 1-5-0 start.

Panthers coach Kevin Dineen likes the steps that his team has taken.

"I think we're playing with little more group-of-five than the individual play that we saw earlier," Dineen said. "We were out of sync. There was not a whole of flow going on. I think there's better chemistry as a team and how we have to play."

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Posted On Tuesday, 02.05.2013 / 1:50 PM

By Patrick Williams -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2012-2013 At the Rink blog

Jets limp home to face Panthers, with PK a focus

WINNIPEG, Manitoba -- Normally a midwinter trip that includes a stop in Florida is a welcome time for the Winnipeg Jets, but last week's three-game road trip left them limping home.

The Jets (3-4-1) dropped all three games, including a defeat last Thursday to the Florida Panthers, who visit MTS Centre for a Tuesday evening date. The penalty kill, a source of many of Winnipeg's defensive problems last season, has again become a major issue for coach Claude Noel and his club. Winnipeg has surrendered goals on eight of its past 16 shorthanded situations, and the Jets rank last in the League on the penalty kill.

Noel said defenseman Dustin Byfuglien will miss his third consecutive game with an undisclosed injury, but that a return for Thursday's game versus the Toronto Maple Leafs is a possibility. Winnipeg is also without Zach Bogosian, whose return remains slated for mid-February. Alexander Burmistrov centers Winnipeg's second line.

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Posted On Sunday, 01.27.2013 / 2:49 PM

By Patrick Williams -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2012-2013 At the Rink blog

Islanders' Hickey set for NHL debut against Jets

WINNIPEG – The New York Islanders’ long road trip moves its way to Winnipeg for a Sunday evening date at MTS Centre.

The Islanders (2-2-0) landed in Winnipeg after a 4-2 road loss Friday to the Boston Bruins in which they allowed three unanswered Boston goals to erase a lead built on two goals from Keith Aucoin. The loss Friday ended a two-game win streak for the Islanders, who are on the third contest of their five-game road trip.

Rick DiPietro made his first start since December 2011 in the loss to Boston. However, Islanders coach Jack Capuano will return veteran Evgeni Nabokov to handle the Islanders’ goaltending chores against Winnipeg.

Capuano said after the Islanders’ lengthy morning skate that he is pleased with his team’s work ethic, but he still needs to see more contributions across his roster.

To that end, Capuano will make two line-up changes. Thomas Hickey, the fourth overall pick of the 2007 NHL Draft, will make his NHL debut . The Islanders picked up the 23-year-old via waivers from the Los Angeles Kings on Jan. 15. Hickey will replace Joe Finley. Eric Boulton will take the place of Casey Cizikas on the Islanders’ fourth line. Veteran Radek Martinek is the lone healthy Islander to play this season.

Here are the possible lineups for the Islanders:

Matt Moulson - John Tavares - Kyle Okposo

Michael Grabner - Frans Nielsen - Brad Boyes

David Ullstrom - Keith Aucoin - Colin McDonald

Matt Martin - Marty Reasoner - Eric Boulton

Mark Streit - Brian Strait

Andrew MacDonald - Travis Hamonic

Thomas Hickey - Matt Carkner

Evgeni Nabokov

Rick DiPietro

Injured: Josh Bailey, Jesse Joensuu

Scratched: Casey Cizikas, Joe Finley, Radek Martinek

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Posted On Sunday, 01.27.2013 / 2:35 PM

By Patrick Williams -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2012-2013 At the Rink blog

Montoya making his Jets' debut against former club

WINNIPEG – The Winnipeg Jets (2-1-1) look to build on their best start since the 2009-10 season when they greet the New York Islanders on Sunday night at MTS Centre.

Winnipeg is fresh off a come-from-behind 4-2 win against the Pittsburgh Penguins on Friday night in which they rattled off four unanswered goals against veteran goaltender Tomas Vokoun. But they will be up against an Islanders club that took both meetings at MTS Centre -- and three of the teams’ four meetings -- last season.

Despite the win against Pittsburgh, Jets coach Claude Noel is taking a cautious approach to facing the Islanders.

“We’re aware of what they are,” Noel said of meeting the Islanders. “They’re playing pretty well. They’re not a team that we want to take lightly, that’s for sure.”

Noel elected to have offseason addition Al Montoya make his debut in net for Winnipeg against his former Islanders teammates.

“I just want to try to get Al playing,” Noel said. “He needs to be part of our group. Pavelec has played all of the games, and there have been some emotional games. It’s good that [Montoya] play here in our building and get a feel for that stuff.”

Noel will return with the rest of the lineup Friday against the Islanders, meaning that prospect Mark Scheifele will miss his second consecutive game after dressing for the Jets’ first three contests.

Here is the projected lineup for the Jets:

Evander KaneOlli JokinenBlake Wheeler

Andrew LaddNikolai AntropovBryan Little

Alexei Ponikarovsky – Alex Burmistrov – Kyle Wellwood

James WrightJim SlaterChris Thorburn

Tobias EnstromDustin Byfuglien

Mark StuartRon Hainsey

Grant ClitsomePaul Postma

Al Montoya

Ondrej Pavelec

Injured: Zach Bogosian, Antti Miettinen

Scratched: Anthony Peluso, Mark Scheifele

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Posted On Friday, 01.25.2013 / 2:26 PM

By Patrick Williams -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2012-2013 At the Rink blog

Penguins look to rebound from first loss of season

WINNIPEG, Manitoba -- The Pittsburgh Penguins arrived here Thursday evening looking to move past a 5-2 loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs in their home opener Wednesday.

The defeat took some of the shine off a season-opening built on consecutive road wins against the Philadelphia Flyers and New York Rangers last weekend. Pittsburgh's run of four road games in its first five contests continues Sunday at the Ottawa Senators. The Penguins face a Winnipeg Jets team they tormented last season. Center Evgeni Malkin posted three goals and eight assists in his three games against the Jets.

Coach Dan Bylsma will make two changes to the lineup that faced Toronto. Offseason acquisition Tomas Vokoun will make his second start in net for Pittsburgh. Ben Lovejoy will dress for the first time this season and take the place of Simon Despres on the Penguins' third defensive pairing with Deryk Engelland.

Right wing Tanner Glass, will make his return to Winnipeg, where he was a fan favorite last season with the Jets before signing in the summer with the Penguins.

Here are the possible line combinations for the Penguins:

Chris Kunitz - Sidney Crosby - Pascal Dupuis

Tyler Kennedy - Evgeni Malkin - James Neal

Matt Cooke - Brandon Sutter - Tanner Glass

Eric Tangradi - Joe Vitale - Craig Adams

Brooks Orpik - Paul Martin

Matt Niskanen - Kris Letang

Deryk Engelland - Ben Lovejoy

Tomas Vokoun

Marc-Andre Fleury

Scratched: Robert Bortuzzo, Simon Despres, Dustin Jeffrey

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Posted On Friday, 01.25.2013 / 2:19 PM

By Patrick Williams -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2012-2013 At the Rink blog

Wellwood in, Scheifele out of lineup for Jets

WINNIPEG -- The Winnipeg Jets returned home from a brief two-game road swing to Boston and Washington in a much better mood than when they departed last Saturday.

A 2-1 shootout loss to the Bruins and a 4-2 win against the Capitals took some of the sting out of a season-opening 4-1 loss to the Ottawa Senators that opened the Jets’ home schedule last weekend. The Jets’ 1-1-1 start represents the franchise's best beginning to a season since 2009-10, when it was the Atlanta Thrashers.

However, the Pittsburgh Penguins arrived in town Thursday, presenting a potential road block to a Winnipeg club looking to earn its first home win and establish itself as a legitimate contender for a Stanley Cup Playoff spot.

Coach Claude Noel repeatedly emphasized the need for his club to avoid any temptation to trade goals with the Penguins, a trap the Jets often fell into last season against Pittsburgh and other high-scoring opponents. Pittsburgh tormented the Jets last season, taking three of the four meetings between the clubs, including an 8-4 loss at Consol Energy Center that dealt a devastating blow to Winnipeg's postseason ambitions last March.

Noel continues to tinker with his lineup and will re-insert veteran Kyle Wellwood, a healthy scratch against the Capitals, on the right wing on the third line in place of rookie Mark Scheifele.

Ondrej Pavelec will make his fourth start of the season in goal for Winnipeg.

Here is how the lineup likely will look Friday:

Evander Kane - Olli Jokinen - Blake Wheeler

Andrew Ladd - Nik Antropov - Bryan Little

Alexei Ponikarovsky - Alexander Burmistrov - Kyle Wellwood

James Wright - Jim Slater - Chris Thorburn

Tobias Enstrom - Dustin Byfuglien

Mark Stuart - Ron Hainsey

Grant Clitsome - Paul Postma

Ondrej Pavelec

Al Montoya

Injured: Zach Bogosian, Antti Miettinen

Scratched: Anthony Peluso, Mark Scheifele

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Posted On Saturday, 01.19.2013 / 8:27 PM

By Patrick Williams -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2012-13 Opening Day blog

Schiefele quickly adjusts to NHL game

WINNIPEG – Winnipeg Jets forward Mark Scheifele's 2012-13 hockey itinerary included another stop Saturday afternoon against the Ottawa Senators.

Before arriving in Winnipeg, Scheifele had posted 22 goals in 30 games with the Ontario Hockey League's Barrie Colts and skated for Team Canada at the World Junior Championship in Ufa, Russia. Scheifele logged on game with Barrie earlier this month before the Jets summoned their 2011 first-round selection to training camp.

Scheifele played seven games with the Jets last season before they returned him to Barrie, but he started against Ottawa playing the right side on Winnipeg's fourth line.

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Posted On Saturday, 01.19.2013 / 8:22 PM

By Patrick Williams -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2012-13 Opening Day blog

Methot-Karlsson pair solid for Senators

WINNIPEG – The Ottawa Senators' acquisition of Marc Methot last summer may not have drawn an abundance of headlines, but it helped reshape the club's blue line.

Methot, a 27-year-old Ottawa native, joined the Senators last July in a trade with the Columbus Blue Jackets for forward Nick Foligno. The Senators used Methot to replace the departed Filip Kuba and use his 6-foot-3, 231-pound frame to firm up a pairing with Erik Karlsson, the NHL's reigning Norris Trophy winner.

Methot spent parts of six seasons and logged 275 games with Columbus in that span. But his 2011-12 season ended with a broken jaw with 28 games remaining in a disastrous season for the Blue Jackets.

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Quote of the Day

I think everyone left it out there. Every game this season, regular season and playoffs, we played as hard as we could. We're not out of the playoffs right now because of lack of effort, and that's all that we can ask of each other.

— Predators defenseman Seth Jones after Nashville was eliminated by Chicago in Game 6 on Saturday