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Posted On Tuesday, 11.29.2011 / 2:15 PM

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

Sens' MacLean set to coach first game in Winnipeg

WINNIPEG -- Several members of the Ottawa Senators had not yet been born when coach Paul MacLean was running up big scoring numbers in the 1980s with the Winnipeg Jets.

The first-year Ottawa coach played 527 games with the Jets between 1981 and 1988 in which he logged 248 goals and 518 points during the high-flying days of the 1980s-era Smythe Division. MacLean later returned to Winnipeg in the late-1990s as a coach with the International League's Kansas City Blades, but tonight's game will mark his first trip into Winnipeg as an NHL coach.

"The time that I spent here with the fans was great," MacLean recalled after Tuesday's morning skate at the MTS Centre.

MacLean expects a fast-skating game from both clubs, who met on Oct. 20 at Ottawa in a 4-1 Senators win.

MacLean's 11-10-2 Senators arrived in Winnipeg fresh off a 4-3 home win over the Carolina Hurricanes on Sunday. They now begin a three-game road swing that continues Thursday night at Dallas. Ottawa is in a run of nine of 10 games away from Scotiabank Place, but the Senators will embark upon a home-heavy December slate beginning next week. Ottawa's previous game on the road was last Friday, a 6-3 thumping at the hands of the Pittsburgh Penguins. The road has caught up to the Senators, who are 4-5-2 this month following a 7-5-0 October opening to their season.

The Senators will be without defenseman Matt Carkner (knee), who has not played this season. Chris Neil (ankle) will miss his eighth game, and Peter Regin (shoulder) will miss his 19th outing.

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

SENATORS

Colin Greening - Jason Spezza - Nikita Filatov
Milan Michalek - Nick Foligno - Daniel Alfredsson
Kaspars Daugavins - Zack Smith - Erik Condra
Jesse Winchester - Zenon Konopka - Bobby Butler

Jared Cowen - Sergei Gonchar
Filip Kuba - Erik Karlsson
Chris Phillips - David Rundblad

Craig Anderson will start in goal for the Senators, with Alex Auld serving as backup.

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Posted On Wednesday, 11.23.2011 / 12:54 PM

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

Jets set for first game in Washington

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The Winnipeg Jets make their season debut in the American capital tonight for a Thanksgiving Eve date with the Washington Capitals.

The 8-9-3 Jets arrived in Washington on Tuesday a hot team after sweeping a three-game homestand against the Capitals, Tampa Bay Lightning and Philadelphia Flyers last week. The Jets took a 4-1 decision from the Capitals last Thursday night at the MTS Centre to up their record against Southeast Division opponents to 4-2-0 this season.

Tonight's game is the start of a three-game East Coast tour that will continue Friday night against the Carolina Hurricanes before a Saturday meeting with the Boston Bruins.

Among the Jets' hot scoring hands are captain Andrew Ladd, Kyle Wellwood, Bryan Little and Evander Kane, who all hold three-game scoring streaks. Little posted a two-goal game last Saturday in a win over Philadelphia, and Kane notched two goals in the win over the Capitals last week.

But coach Claude Noel expects to see a much better Washington team than the club he saw last week.

"I don't think we saw their complete 'A' game,” Noel said. "You've got to be careful. You can't play these guys lightly."

The Jets will welcome back the services of veteran defenseman Ron Hainsey, who missed 16 games since suffering an upper-body injury on Oct. 17. Hainsey's return one game after Eric Fehr's return to action is another piece of good medical news for the Jets, who have lost 96 man-games to injury this season already.

Hainsey should offer the Jets some further defensive backbone, but he will have a difficult opponent to match up against in his return from injury.

"If you give them space and a little bit of time," Hainsey said of the Capitals, "these guys can pick you apart."

Hainsey's return should also help reduce the workload of Zach Bogosian, who logged a season-high 31 minutes of ice time against Philadelphia. Hainsey can play in all situations.

"It gives a little bit more comfort," Noel said of Hainsey returning.

Ondrej Pavelec is expected to make his career-high 13th consecutive start in net for the Jets after delivering a 32-save effort last week against Washington.

Here is the projected lineup for Winnipeg tonight:

JETS

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

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

Ondrej Pavelec will start for the Jets, with Chris Mason backing up.
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Posted On Wednesday, 11.23.2011 / 12:54 PM

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

Semin expected to return to Capitals' lineup

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The Washington Capitals' 4-3 win on Monday night over the Phoenix Coyotes ended a four-game winless streak and halted some of the angst surrounding the team as well.

Home ice has been friendly to the 11-7-1 Capitals, who are now 7-1-1 at the Verizon Center entering tonight's game with the Winnipeg Jets. Tonight's game is the second home date in a stretch that will see the Capitals play six of seven games in Washington. The New York Rangers will visit on Friday night.

The win on Monday was coach Bruce Boudreau's 200th career victory, making him the 66th NHL coach to reach the milestone.

In collecting the 200th win, Boudreau caused something of a stir in Washington when he made Alexander Semin a healthy scratch for Monday's game. Semin is expected to draw back into the Washington lineup against the Jets and scored Washington's lone goal in a 4-1 loss at Winnipeg last Thursday.

Dmitry Orlov debuted for the Capitals alongside Karl Alzner against Phoenix in place of the sidelined John Erskine and registered 11:56 of ice time.

Here is the projected lineup for Washington tonight:

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

Roman Hamrlik - Dennis Wideman
Jeff Schultz - John Carlson
Dmitry Orlov - Karl Alzner

Tomas Vokoun will start for the Capitals, with Michal Neuvirth serving as back-up.
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Posted On Thursday, 11.17.2011 / 2:34 PM

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

Ovechkin set for Winnipeg debut

WINNIPEG – The Washington Capitals arrived Wednesday in Winnipeg fresh off a frustrating late 3-1 loss at Nashville the night before.

A pair of Nashville goals late in the third period undid what had been a very solid effort for the Capitals, who will conclude this three-game journey Saturday night at Toronto. A Capitals win tonight would give coach Bruce Boudreau his 200th NHL coaching victory.

Much of the focus in Winnipeg on Thursday morning surrounded Alex Ovechkin, who leads the Capitals with seven goals this season and will be making his NHL debut on Winnipeg ice.

“So-so,” Ovechkin answered when asked to describe the start to his season. “I’m thinking all the time what I have to do differently.”

But 20 of the 23 skaters who have dressed for the Capitals this season have recorded at least one point, and 17 different Capitals have scored a goal. However, despite that balanced scoring, the Capitals have sagged since a franchise-best 7-0-0 start to the season and have gone just 3-5-1 since that opening burst.

Washington will be without sidelined defenseman Mike Green, who remains back in Washington. Jay Beagle will miss his 16th game tonight stemming from a concussion after a fight with Pittsburgh’s Arron Asham.

Here is the projected lineup for Washington tonight:

Troy BrouwerNicklas BackstromAlex Ovechkin
Jason ChimeraBrooks LaichAlexander Semin
Cody EakinMarcus JohanssonJoel Ward
Matt HendricksJeff HalpernMike Knuble

Roman HamrlikKarl Alzner
John ErskineDennis Wideman
Jeff SchultzJohn Carlson

Michal Neuvirth will start for the Capitals, with Tomas Vokoun serving as back-up.
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Posted On Thursday, 11.17.2011 / 2:00 PM

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

Jets hoping to build off season's best performance

WINNIPEG -- The objective for the Winnipeg Jets tonight is to build upon what was perhaps their finest performance of the season.

That performance, a 5-2 win over the Tampa Bay Lightning on Monday, snapped a five-game winless streak for the Jets (6-9-3) and greatly lightened the tension surrounding the team.

However, the Washington Capitals pay the Jets a visit tonight at the MTS Centre, and it will be another stiff test for a young Winnipeg team that is now moving into a home-heavy portion of its schedule. The Capitals arrived in Winnipeg on Wednesday still smarting from a late 3-1 loss at Nashville on Tuesday night.

"I don't think we should expect anything less," defenseman Mark Stuart said. "We were happy with our last game, but we need to continue to string together consistent efforts."

Frustrating the Capitals, beginning with shutting down Alex Ovechkin by limiting his time and space, will be foremost among the Jets' objectives. Stuart is expected to shoulder much of the burden of stopping Ovechkin and linemates Troy Brouwer and Nicklas Backstrom. Coach Claude Noel expects to try to contain Ovechkin via a committee of defensemen, though he acknowledged that the Capitals' offensive weapons extend far beyond Ovechkin.

"You've always got to know when he is out there," Stuart said. "It's a challenge against him. It's always a challenge."

Here is the projected lineup for Winnipeg tonight:

Andrew LaddNik AntropovKyle Wellwood
Alexander BurmistrovBryan LittleEvander Kane
Tanner GlassJim SlaterChris Thorburn
Jason JaffrayTim StapletonBlake Wheeler

Mark StuartDustin Byfuglien
Johnny OduyaZach Bogosian
Arturs KuldaMark Flood

Ondrej Pavelec will start for the Jets, with Chris Mason serving as backup.
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Posted On Monday, 11.14.2011 / 2:34 PM

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

Despite success, Boucher expects more from Bolts

WINNIPEG -- The Tampa Bay Lightning are on a 7-3-0 roll, but coach Guy Boucher is not easily impressed.

Saturday night's 3-0 loss to the St. Louis Blues left Boucher in an irritated mood on Sunday, so he kept his club off the ice for self-assessment. Tampa Bay's 3-5-2 road record and the Lightning's inability to respond until late in the game against the Blues frustrated Boucher.

"I think probably because it toned me down," Boucher replied when asked why the Lightning did not skate on Sunday. "I kind of protected the players, but it still came out today.

"We have high standards for ourselves," he continued. "Even though we're missing players, we still have the same standards and expectations, and it's important that we respect the process. We don't respect the process on the road and we have to understand."

Defenseman Victor Hedman has not played Tampa Bay's previous three games because of an upper-body injury. Boucher indicated that Hedman's status for tonight's game will be a game-time decision, but it is expected that he will play. Hedman's absence has been a significant blow for a blue line that has been without Mattias Ohlund all season.

The Lightning will also be without left wing Ryan Malone, who will miss his third game with an upper-body injury.

Here is the projected lineup for Tampa Bay tonight:

LIGHTNING
Nate Thompson - Steven Stamkos - Martin St. Louis
Tom Pyatt - Vincent Lecavalier - Teddy Purcell
Brett Connolly - Dominic Moore - Adam Hall
Ryan Shannon - Blair Jones - Steve Downie

Victor Hedman - Eric Brewer
Pavel Kubina - Marc-Andre Bergeron
Brett Clark - Bruno Gervais

Dwayne Roloson will return to the net for the Lightning, with Mathieu Garon backing up.
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Posted On Monday, 11.14.2011 / 1:56 PM

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

Looking for spark, Jets recall Jaffray, Kulda

WINNIPEG -- Subpar play on the ice means the Winnipeg Jets are beginning to shuffle their roster, starting with tonight's contest with the Tampa Bay Lightning at the MTS Centre.

The Jets are 0-3-2 in their past five games, their latest a 2-1 defeat coming on Saturday night at Columbus against the 30th-ranked Blue Jackets. That loss followed a 4-0 shutout by the Florida Panthers in Winnipeg last Thursday.

"We need a good game from a standpoint of work, discipline, details and energy," coach Claude Noel said.

In response to the recent poor play, the Jets recalled left wing Jason Jaffray from St. John's of the American League on Sunday. Jaffray had 7 goals and 12 points in 15 games with St. John's and recorded a hat trick with the IceCaps on Saturday night, earning himself the recall.

"He is a really solid AHL player who has really good character," said Noel, who had Jaffray as an AHL player last season. "He is a really sincere player. I don't want him to be more than what he is."

Jaffray's arrival has spelled the end of the Jets' top forward line of Andrew Ladd, Bryan Little and Blake Wheeler that has combined for just six goals over the club's first 17 games.

"I'm just trying to get some things going," Noel said. "We're just trying to juggle around to jar some things. It's probably time."

The Jets also swapped young defenseman, re-assigning Paul Postma to the IceCaps and recalling Arturs Kulda.

Winnipeg enters a busy stretch back on home ice, where the Jets will play eight of their 11 next games. However, a difficult week looms with the Washington Capitals and Philadelphia Flyers following the Lightning.

Noel downplayed the recent buzz about Tampa Bay's 1-3-1 system, stressing the need to avoid carrying the puck and turning over the puck against the Lightning's quick counterstrike.

"It's just a different system," Noel said. "They do a good job."

Back on Oct. 29, the Jets assembled one of their finest performances this season, dropping a 1-0 decision to the Lightning at the St. Pete Times Forum.

"It should give us confidence," Noel said of that game. "It showed we can play well and play for 60 minutes."

Here is the projected lineup for Winnipeg tonight:

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

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

Ondrej Pavelec will start for the Jets, with Chris Mason serving as backup.
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Posted On Friday, 11.11.2011 / 6:17 PM

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

Jets activate Chris Mason off IR

WINNIPEG -- The Winnipeg Jets received a rare piece of positive news on the injury front on Friday morning.

The Jets activated goaltender Chris Mason from Injured Reserve after the veteran backup missed seven games with a groin injury. Mason exited the Jets' 9-8 win at Philadelphia on Oct. 27 after playing 8:27 in relief of starter Ondrej Pavelec. Mason is 1-2-0 in four games this season with a 2.68 goals-against average.

To make room for Mason, the Jets reassigned goaltender Peter Mannino to the St. John's IceCaps of the American League. Mannino logged third-period mop-up duty in Thursday night's 5-2 loss to the Florida Panthers.

"I'm excited to come off [Injured Reserve]," Mason said before the team departed for Saturday night's visit to Columbus. "It [stinks] being injured. I'm pretty happy to be back. You just want to be with the guys."

Mason also indicated that he is "100 percent" ready for game action. The demands of the position mean that groin injuries can sometimes linger for goaltenders, but Mason needed just two weeks to heal.

"I went full-bore here in the last three days here," Mason said of why he feels ready for game play. "I like to think that I heal quickly. The trainers here put me on an excellent regimen, so I feel great. There are no reservations at all."

Meanwhile, right wing Eric Fehr's surgically repaired right shoulder continues its long recovery. Fehr is testing the shoulder in practice, and Friday's contact-filled session provided it with a good workout. Fehr, acquired from the Washington Capitals in a July trade, has yet to play this season.

"It feels pretty good," Fehr said of his shoulder. "It's a little bit stronger than I expected, actually, just to be able to push guys and get body position."

While his teammates may not have relished the demanding practice, Fehr saw the session as a positive.

"That was a great practice for me to jump into," Fehr said. "We wanted to be physical in practice, we wanted to moving our feet and working hard. That's the kind of practice that, selfishly, I need to get back into the line-up."

Fehr plans to consult with the team's medical staff and see how his shoulder is progressing, but he could not provide a definitive timetable for his return.

Along with Fehr, the Jets own a long list of injured players on the blue line. Ron Hainsey has missed 12 games with an upper-body injury, Tobias Enstrom is out indefinitely with a broken collarbone, and Randy Jones and Derek Meech remain out as well.

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Posted On Thursday, 11.10.2011 / 6:21 PM

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

Winnipeg loses Maxwell on waivers

WINNIPEG - The NHL's waiver wire claimed its second Winnipeg Jet this season.

The Anaheim Ducks claimed Jets center Ben Maxwell off waivers on Thursday morning. Maxwell joins forward Brett MacLean, whom the Phoenix Coyotes reclaimed on waivers from the Jets on Oct. 29. Maxwell's addition will provide the Ducks with further depth down the middle, particularly with Nick Bonino sidelined with a knee injury.

The 23-year-old Maxwell's stay in Winnipeg was brief -- he logged four games with the Jets after returning from a season-opening injury. Maxwell went scoreless with the Jets after playing 12 games with the Atlanta Thrashers following a Feb. 24 trade from the Montreal Canadiens.

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Posted On Thursday, 11.10.2011 / 2:32 PM

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

Projected lineups for Panthers, Jets

WINNIPEG -- The Florida Panthers wrap up a two-game Canadian road trip tonight with a stop in Winnipeg.

The Panthers took a 5-1 decision on Tuesday night against the Toronto Maple Leafs  behind 38 saves from Jose Theodore. Florida’s 7-4-3 start is the franchise’s best since a 9-1-4 beginning to the 1996-97 season.

The Jets, winless in three games, return home for the first time since Oct. 24 after a 3-2-2 seven-game road trip.

Here are the projected lineups:

PANTHERS
Tomas Fleischmann - Stephen Weiss - Kris Versteeg
Jack Skille - Mike Santorelli - Tomas Kopecky
Marco Sturm - Marcel Goc - Sean Bergenheim
Scottie Upshall - Shawn Matthias - Matt Bradley

Ed Jovanovski - Keaton Ellerby
Jason Garrison - Brian Campbell
Dmitry Kulikov - Mike Weaver

Jose Theodore will start for the Panthers, with Scott Clemmensen backing up.

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

Mark Stuart - Zach Bogosian
Johnny Oduya - Dustin Byfuglien
Brett Festerling - Mark Flood

Ondrej Pavelec will start for the Jets, with Peter Mannino backing up.
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Quote of the Day

Because of the way they play and their skill set I don't think they're fourth-line players, so in my mind I'm looking at one of those guys I'll have to move over to the wing.

— Capitals coach Barry Trotz on his four-player battle for second-line center