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Posted On Thursday, 12.15.2011 / 3:04 PM

By Patrick Williams - Correspondent / - At the Rink blog

Caps seek road win, more production from top line

WINNIPEG -- A 5-1 home loss to the Philadelphia Flyers on Tuesday night has the Washington Capitals in need of a win tonight against the Winnipeg Jets.

The Capitals continue their transition under new coach Dale Hunter, but have picked up three wins over their past five games. The road has not treated the Capitals well this season, and the team is 1-7 in its past eight games away from Washington. The Capitals wrap up their two-game road swing on Saturday night against the Colorado Avalanche.

The Capitals' top line of Alex Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom and Alexander Semin have managed only four combined goals since Hunter took over behind the bench, but Hunter is still encouraged by their play and expects that production will follow.

"They've been getting opportunities," Hunter said. "As long as they keep getting opportunities, good things happen."

The Capitals will do without defenseman Mike Green and forwards Jay Beagle and Matt Hendricks against the Jets.

Here are tonight's projected lines and pairings for Washington:


Alex Ovechkin - Nicklas Backstrom - Alexander Semin
Troy Brouwer - Marcus Johansson - Jeff Halpern
Jason Chimera - Brooks Laich - Joel Ward
Cody Eakin - Mathieu Perreault - Mike Knuble

Karl Alzner - John Carlson
John Erskine - Dennis Wideman
Dmitry Orlov - Roman Hamrlik

Michal Neuvirth
Tomas Vokoun

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Posted On Thursday, 12.15.2011 / 2:10 PM

By Patrick Williams - Correspondent / - At the Rink blog

Jets want to keep accumulating home points

WINNIPEG -- The Winnipeg Jets look to continue to accumulate points tonight when the Washington Capitals are the latest visitor in this month's home-heavy schedule.

The Jets (14-12-4) have won eight of their past nine games at home, including their last five consecutive MTS Centre dates. Only the Detroit Red Wings (9-1-0) and Boston Bruins (8-1-1) have been better than in their past 10 home games than have the Jets (8-2-0). Among those wins was a 4-1 decision over the Capitals at home on Nov. 17. The clubs also met in Washington on Nov. 23, a game the Capitals took in overtime, 4-3.

Winnipeg plays 12 of 14 games at home this month and is in the midst of a six-game homestand. The Jets' recent home success has pushed them to within one point of the eighth-place New Jersey Devils in the Eastern Conference.

Coach Claude Noel expects that Nik Antropov, who has missed five of the Jets' past six games, will be a game-time decision. Alexander Burmistrov and Randy Jones will miss their second consecutive games with injury. Noel also indicated that defenseman Tobias Enstrom could be ready for action by this weekend. Enstrom has been out since Oct. 31 with a broken collarbone. Waiver-wire addition Antti Miettinen will not dress for the Jets tonight.

Center Bryan Little has anchored the Jets' top line and has goals in four straight games and 17 points (11 goals) in his last 16 contests. Linemates Evander Kane (10-5-15 in his past 13 games) and Blake Wheeler (2-11-13 in his past 12 games) have flanked Little during the Jets' recent run.

The Jets have not faced the Capitals since Washington replaced Bruce Boudreau with Dale Hunter behind the bench. Noel noted that the Capitals have transitioned from a 1-3-1 system to Hunter's 1-2-2 system, but he does not expect a substantially different look from the Capitals.

"They've changed their systems a bit," Noel said. "I don't think Dale is going to come in and re-invent the game and make it confusing."

Here are tonight's projected lines and pairings for Winnipeg.

Evander Kane - Bryan Little - Blake Wheeler
Andrew Ladd - Kyle Wellwood - Eric Fehr
Tanner Glass - Jim Slater - Chris Thorburn
Jason Jaffray - Tim Stapleton - Carl Klingberg

Mark Stuart - Zach Bogosian
Johnny Oduya - Dustin Byfuglien
Ron Hainsey - Mark Flood

Ondrej Pavelec
Chris Mason
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Posted On Tuesday, 12.13.2011 / 3:14 PM

By Patrick Williams - Correspondent / - At the Rink blog

Jets happy to add Miettinen off waivers

WINNIPEG -- The Tampa Bay Lightning were hoping to add Antti Miettinen to boost their offense, but the Winnipeg Jets claimed him on waivers, the team announced Tuesday.

Miettinen began this season with Kazan Ak-Bars in the KHL, but the Lightning signed him to a two-year contract Monday. He had to pass through waivers to be eligible to play for Tampa Bay, but the Jets snared him on Tuesday morning.

"We always said that we would be proactive and take a look at all the options that presented themselves," Jets general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff said. "He's shown a lot of versatility in his game. He's a real good character person that can bring a lot to the dressing room and the team."

The 31-year-old Miettinen has 89 goals and 212 points in 472 career NHL games for Dallas and Minnesota. He had 2 goals and 8 points in 20 games in the KHL this season.

The Jets like Miettinen's experience and versatility, particularly for a lineup that remains in need of some additional scoring punch. Nik Antropov and Eric Fehr have battled injuries lately. Miettinen has reached 11 or more goals in each of his past six NHL seasons, and notched 16 goals last season with Minnesota, the second-highest total in his NHL career.

"He adds to our group, which is good," Jets coach Claude Noel said. "I think he fits in our group. He's a smart player, dependable all over the ice. He can finish some. I think he makes us better."

Miettinen and his family remain in Finland, but Cheveldayoff indicated that the Jets are working to bring them to Winnipeg as quickly as possible.

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Posted On Tuesday, 12.13.2011 / 2:27 PM

By Patrick Williams - Correspondent / - At the Rink blog

Jets move on from loss, start long home stretch

WINNIPEG -- The Winnipeg Jets did not waste any time moving on from a 7-1 loss on Saturday night to the Detroit Red Wings.

"For us, we've moved past that game," Jets coach Claude Noel said. "We weren't happy with it. I don't think anybody enjoyed playing it, watching it, anything."

After suffering their worst loss of the season, the Jets (13-12-4) will be back on MTS Centre ice tonight against the Minnesota Wild, where they have won seven of their last eight home contests, including four wins before their boisterous home crowd. The Jets will play six consecutive games at home and eight of their next nine contests at home this month.

The Jets' lineup also continues to change because of injury. The Jets activated defenseman Ron Hainsey and expect to dress the veteran tonight. Hainsey has played only one game since Oct. 17. The Jets also claimed veteran forward Antti Miettinen off waivers on Tuesday morning, but he is in Finland and not immediately expected to arrive in Winnipeg.

Alexander Burmistrov is not expected to dress because of an undisclosed injury, and Nik Antropov is also expected to be a scratch because of injury after having re-entered the Winnipeg lineup in Detroit. Right wing Eric Fehr remains on injured reserve, as do defensemen Tobias Enstrom and Derek Meech.

"We'll make a game-time decision," Noel said when asked about his lineup, adding that he did not think that he would use any of his defensemen in a forward role for the night.

Here are tonight's projected lines and pairings for Winnipeg:

Evander Kane - Bryan Little - Blake Wheeler
Andrew Ladd - Tim Stapleton - Kyle Wellwood
Tanner Glass - Jim Slater - Chris Thorburn
Jason Jaffray - Carl Klingberg

Mark Stuart - Zach Bogosian
Johnny Oduya - Dustin Byfuglien
Randy Jones - Ron Hainsey
Mark Flood

Ondrej Pavelec
Chris Mason
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Posted On Tuesday, 12.13.2011 / 2:08 PM

By Patrick Williams - Correspondent / - At the Rink blog

Wild aim for eighth straight road win

WINNIPEG -- The Minnesota Wild will attempt to set a new franchise mark for consecutive road wins with eight when they head north to the unfriendly confines of the MTS Centre.

Minnesota's 20 wins and 43 points lead the NHL, and the club is off to its best start in franchise history. The Wild also own a seven-game winning streak after knocking off the Phoenix Coyotes on the road Saturday night, 4-1. Kyle Brodziak chipped in two power-play goals against the Coyotes and now leads all Minnesota scorers with 10 goals.

Tonight's meeting is the first look at what will be a new conference rivalry come next season. Minnesota and Winnipeg are each other's closest geographic rivals.

The Wild will regain the services of left wing Guillaume Latendresse, whom they activated from injured reserve this morning after a 15-game absence. Latendresse last played on Nov. 10 at San Jose. However, center Matt Cullen will not play after being sidelined by illness.

Defensemen Marek Zidlicky (concussion) and Justin Falk (upper body) remain out for Minnesota, as does right wing Devin Setoguchi (lower body) Right wing Cal Clutterbuck, who missed the last two games with a lower-body injury, will draw back into the Minnesota line-up.

Guillaume Latendresse - Mikko Koivu - Dany Heatley
Casey Wellman - Kyle Brodziak - Pierre-Marc Bouchard
Nick Johnson - Darroll Powe - Cal Clutterbuck
Colton Gillies - Cody Almond - Brad Staubitz

Nick Schultz - Mike Lundin
Marco Scandella - Jared Spurgeon
Clayton Stoner - Greg Zanon

Niklas Backstrom
Matt Hackett

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Posted On Friday, 12.09.2011 / 2:56 PM

By Patrick Williams - Correspondent / - At the Rink blog

Canes coming off big win, trade

WINNIPEG -- A major trade on Friday quickly overshadowed one of the biggest wins of the season for the Carolina Hurricanes.

Defenseman Tomas Kaberle headed out of town on Friday morning after the Hurricanes shipped him to the Montreal Canadiens for fellow Czech defenseman Jaroslav Spacek. Hurricanes coach Kirk Muller expects Spacek to draw into the Carolina lineup tonight after his arrival in Winnipeg this afternoon.

Kaberle had contributed 2 assists in the team's most recent outing, a 5-3 win over the Edmonton Oilers that broke a streak of seven consecutive losses (0-6-1). The Hurricanes traveled to Winnipeg immediately after the game and enjoyed a day off yesterday.

The Hurricanes have discovered an offensive side on this week's tour of Western Canada, having picked up 11 goals in games against the Oilers and Calgary FlamesTuomo Ruutu and Chad Larose both own two-game goal streaks, and Jamie McBain has picked up points in his last three contests (3-2-5).

With a regular-season contest as well as a preseason date already in Winnipeg, the Hurricanes are most familiar with the MTS Centre's unwelcoming environment for visiting teams. The Jets have fed off that home-ice advantage and have taken six of their last seven games at home.

"We have to be ready for the start," Muller said. "We have to be ready for a team that goes after you."

Muller has stressed a more up-tempo system since taking over behind the Carolina bench on Nov. 28. The win against the Oilers was perhaps the first sign that the new system is beginning to take root with the Hurricanes.

"We want to go after them," captain Eric Staal said of the Jets. "They're an up-tempo team, too, and if you let them initiate their forecheck, get in there and use their skill, they'll capitalize. For us, I think we want to initiate."

The Hurricanes will continue on to Toronto after tonight's game and spend three days there before their game with the Maple Leafs next Tuesday night.

Here is what the Hurricanes lineup likely will look like:

Jeff Skinner - Eric Staal - Tuomo Ruutu
Alexei Ponikarovsky - Jussi Jokinen - Chad LaRose
Jiri Tlusty - Brandon Sutter - Patrick Dwyer
Andreas Nodl - Tim Brent - Anthony Stewart

Bryan Allen - Derek Joslin
Tim Gleason - Justin Faulk
Jamie McBain - Jaroslav Spacek

Cam Ward will start for the Hurricanes, with Mike Murphy backing up.
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Posted On Friday, 12.09.2011 / 2:34 PM

By Patrick Williams - Correspondent / - At the Rink blog

Jets know they can't overlook Hurricanes

WINNIPEG -- A classic "trap" game awaits the Winnipeg Jets tonight when the Carolina Hurricanes arrive in town.

The 12-11-4 Jets took their most impressive win of the season so far on Tuesday night when they beat the Boston Bruins, 2-1, at the MTS Centre to break Boston's streak of 15 games without a regulation defeat. The Jets are now on a 7-2-1 run in their last 10 games, have won three straight and have taken six of their last seven home outings. And tomorrow, the Jets skate in Detroit against the Red Wings, who hold the Western Conference's fourth spot.

In between the Bruins and the Red Wings are the 9-17-4 Hurricanes, who continue their midseason shake-up under new coach Kirk Muller. Jets coach Claude Noel is fully aware of the perils of overlooking the Hurricanes.

"We're certainly going to be aware of Carolina," Noel said. "I'm not taking them lightly, especially after the [Tomas Kaberle-Jaroslav Spacek] deal they made today. That will get the attention of the players."

"They're in a little bit of turmoil," Noel said of Carolina. "They're trying to reorganize and re-shuffle. They'll be ready to play. We'll have to be ready to go."

Goaltender Chris Mason will see action for only the sixth time this season for the Jets, as he will spell workhorse partner Ondrej Pavelec tonight. Mason last played two weeks ago when he led the Jets to a 3-1 win against the Hurricanes at the RBC Center on Nov. 25.

Mason's only other win this season also came at Carolina's expense when he relieved Pavelec at the MTS Centre in a 5-3 decision over the Hurricanes on Oct. 22.

The Jets also expect to regain the services of center Nik Antropov, who has missed three games with a lower-body injury sustained on Nov. 29 against Ottawa. Randy Jones, who has missed 15 consecutive games since taking a shot to his foot on Nov. 3, is also expected to re-enter the Winnipeg defensive rotation in place of Arturs Kulda.

Here are tonight's projected lines and pairings for Winnipeg.


Evander Kane - Bryan Little - Blake Wheeler
Andrew Ladd - Nik Antropov - Kyle Wellwood
Tanner Glass - Jim Slater- Chris Thorburn
Jason Jaffray - Tim Stapleton - Alexander Burmistrov

Johnny Oduya - Dustin Byfuglien
Mark Stuart - Zach Bogosian
Randy Jones - Mark Flood

Chris Mason will start for the Jets, with Ondrej Pavelec backing up.
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Posted On Tuesday, 12.06.2011 / 2:23 PM

By Patrick Williams - Correspondent / - At the Rink blog

Jets happy with next season's conference lineup

WINNIPEG -- No team in the NHL is more geographically displaced this season than the Winnipeg Jets.

Jets players and coaches roundly supported last night's realignment decision that is expected to move the club out of the Southeast Division for the 2012-13 season. Next season Winnipeg will play in a conference with the Chicago Blackhawks, Columbus Blue Jackets, Dallas Stars, Detroit Red Wings, Nashville Predators, Minnesota Wild and St. Louis Blues.

Minnesota is the Jets' nearest geographic rival and should allow fans to make the seven-hour car trip for road games next season. Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews is a Winnipeg product, and the Blue Jackets have former Winnipeg Jet Scott Arniel manning their bench.

While the Jets have the benefit this season of frequent travel to warmer climates for road games with the Carolina Hurricanes, Florida Panthers and Tampa Bay Lightning, next season's schedule should ease the Jets' travel burden.

The Jets also have three Minnesota products on their roster, and a chance to play before family and friends at the Xcel Energy Center delighted Blake Wheeler, who also played his NCAA hockey at the University of Minnesota.

"I like being in the Midwest a little more and being in the Central time zone," Wheeler said. "It'll be fun to play back home a little more often, and more specifically, for our travel, it's going to be huge to play the majority of our games in this area."
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Posted On Tuesday, 12.06.2011 / 2:12 PM

By Patrick Williams - Correspondent / - At the Rink blog

Jets hoping to continue strong home play vs. Bruins

WINNIPEG -- The Winnipeg Jets have pinpointed December's home-heavy slate as a critical segment of their season.

A pair of wins last week against the Phoenix Coyotes and New Jersey Devils served as key points for a team looking to establish a home-ice presence in its first season at the MTS Centre.

Now the Jets, 7-4-0 at home this season, face their biggest test of the season at the MTS Centre tonight when the defending Stanley Cup champion Boston Bruins make their first visit to Winnipeg this season. The Bruins bring a 7-2-0 road mark into Winnipeg after beating the Pittsburgh Penguins 3-1 on Monday and have not lost away from home since Oct. 29.

Jets coach Claude Noel watched a portion of last night's Bruins-Penguins game and was asked for his take on what he saw.

"I took out of it that Boston is a good team," Noel replied to laughs from the assembled media. "And I knew that before I watched that game."

"It's going to be an interesting game for us," Noel added. "They've got depth. Who doesn't scare you on that team?"

The Jets' top line of Evander Kane, Bryan Little and Blake Wheeler continue to drive the Winnipeg offense. Kane has 6 goals in his last five games, 9 goals and 12 points in his last nine games, and owns a five-game point-scoring streak. Wheeler and Little, two important cogs who experienced very slow starts to their seasons, have four- and three-game point streaks, respectively.

"They've got some size on that line, especially on the wings," Noel said of his top trio.

The line has been defensively reliable, and Noel surmises that Kane has helped to draw out the speed Little and Wheeler possess.

"I didn't see the speed in Wheeler and Little before that I do now," he said. "It's been a really good asset for us."

Ondrej Pavelec will start in net for Winnipeg tonight, the 18th time in the team's last 19 games that he will received the starting nod.

Forwards Nik Antropov and Eric Fehr remain sidelined by injury and will not dress, while defensemen Ron Hainsey, Derek Meech, Randy Jones and Tobias Enstrom also are out with injuries.

The Jets returned defenseman Brett Festerling to the St. John's IceCaps of the American Hockey League and reclaimed center Ben Maxwell on waivers from the Anaheim Ducks and assigned him to St. John's.

Here are tonight’s projected lines and pairings for Winnipeg.

Evander Kane - Bryan Little - Blake Wheeler
Andrew Ladd - Alexander Burmistrov - Kyle Wellwood
Tanner Glass - Jim Slater- Chris Thorburn
Jason Jaffray - Tim Stapleton - Carl Klingberg

Johnny Oduya - Dustin Byfuglien
Mark Stuart - Zach Bogosian
Arturs Kulda - Mark Flood

Ondrej Pavelec will start for the Jets, with Chris Mason backing up.

With the Bruins having played last night, they didn't skate today. If they don't change things -- and with their current 14-0-1 stretch, why would they? -- here's what their lineup could look like:

Tyler Seguin - Patrice Bergeron - Brad Marchand
Milan Lucic - David Krejci - Nathan Horton
Benoit Pouliot - Chris Kelly - Rich Peverley
Daniel Paille - Gregory Campbell - Shawn Thornton

Zdeno Chara - Johnny Boychuk
Joe Corvo - Dennis Seidenberg
Andrew Ference - Adam McQuaid

With Tim Thomas starting last night, it's likely he'll be the backup and Tuukka Rask will start tonight.

For more on tonight's game, check out the preview here.
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Posted On Saturday, 12.03.2011 / 2:09 PM

By Patrick Williams - Correspondent / - At the Rink blog

Devils have quick turnaround, look to end slide

WINNIPEG – The Devils arrived in Winnipeg late after a 4-2 road loss Friday night against the Minnesota Wild, their third consecutive loss. Minnesota knocked starting goaltender Martin Brodeur out of the game with three goals on four shots, and Johan Hedberg finished the game. The defeat wasted a multi-point effort from Zach Parise and Adam Henrique extending his scoring streak to four games.

After the game Saturday, New Jersey will wrap up a four-game stretch away from home Tuesday night at Air Canada Centre against the Toronto Maple Leafs before returning to Newark for a pair of home dates.

The late arrival into Winnipeg meant that the Devils did not hold a morning skate. Hedberg is expected to start against the Jets, according to Tom Gulitti of The Record.

Travis Zajac (Achilles’ tendon) and Jacob Josefson (clavicle) both remain sidelined with long-term injuries. Rod Pelley did not dress against Minnesota – the 10th time in the Devils' last 11 games that he has been a healthy scratch.

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