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Posted On Monday, 10.24.2011 / 2:16 PM

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

Stop in Winnipeg marks end to Rangers' opening trip

WINNIPEG -- The New York Rangers' long and winding road finally comes to an end tonight against the Winnipeg Jets.

The Rangers will wrap up a season-opening seven-game road trip, a franchise record, after dropping a 2-0 decision to the Edmonton Oilers on Saturday. They currently own a 2-1-0 record on their four-game tour of Western Canada and are 2-2-2 overall. Extensive renovations to Madison Square Garden forced the Rangers on the road, but they will debut on home ice on Thursday night against the Toronto Maple Leafs.

After a curt post-game interview session with reporters in Edmonton, Rangers coach John Tortorella did not wish to rehash the loss after the Rangers' morning skate at MTS Centre.

"I'm not going to dissect it," Tortorella said.

But the Rangers will need to rectify their power play as quickly as possible. After going 0-for-16 on the man-advantage to begin the season, they finally notched a power-play goal at Calgary on Oct. 20. But the NHL's 30th-ranked power play again struggled on Saturday, going scoreless in five opportunities against the Oilers.

"I would think New York is probably not real happy if you listen to them," Winnipeg coach Claude Noel said. "They're not happy with the results, and they've been on the road a while. We're going to have to play well. We're going to have to keep plowing ahead, because we're walking into seven straight road games."

Tonight's game is the final home contest for the Jets until a Nov. 10 date with the Florida Panthers. The Jets will embark on a seven-game swing that will stretch out over 13 nights, beginning with a visit to play the Philadelphia Flyers on Thursday.

Martin Biron will make his first start of the season tonight and end Henrik Lundqvist's streak of 37 consecutive regular-season and playoff starts dating back to Feb. 11. Biron spelled Lundqvist on Saturday at Edmonton after the starter left the game with an equipment issue.

"Now it's about putting that work in practice into games," Biron said. "It has been a while. It's fun, it's exciting. It's about getting back into the rhythm."

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Posted On Monday, 10.24.2011 / 2:14 PM

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

Projected lineups for Rangers, Jets

WINNIPEG -- Here are the projected lineups for the New York Rangers and Winnipeg Jets, who meet tonight at the MTS Centre:

RANGERS

Derek Stepan - Brad Richards - Marian Gaborik
Brandon Dubinsky - Artem Anisimov - Ryan Callahan
Ruslan Fedotenko - Brian Boyle - Brandon Prust
Wojtek Wolski - Mike Rupp - Kris Newbury

Ryan McDonagh - Dan Girardi
Tim Erixon - Michael Del Zotto
Jeff Woywitka - Steve Eminger

Martin Biron will start and be backed up by Henrik Lundqvist.

The Rangers will regain the services of Wolski, who missed five games after sustaining a groin injury in their season-opener against the Los Angeles Kings. Center Erik Christensen will not dress for the Rangers. Defenseman Brendan Bell will exit the Blueshirts' defense corps in favor of Woywitka. Defensemen Michael Sauer (shoulder) and Marc Staal (concussion) both remain sidelined.

JETS

Andrew Ladd - Bryan LittleBlake Wheeler
Alexander Burmistrov - Nik Antropov - Evander Kane
Tanner Glass - Ben Maxwell - Chris Thorburn
Kenndal McArdle - Tim Stapleton - Kyle Wellwood

Tobias Enstrom - Dustin Byfuglien
Mark Stuart - Zach Bogosian
Johnny Oduya - Randy Jones

Chris Mason will see his second consecutive game in net for the Jets after relieving starter Ondrej Pavelec early in Saturday's 5-3 win over the Carolina Hurricanes. Mason entered the game and stopped 18 of 19 Carolina shots in relief.

"I've got two good goalies," coach Claude Noel said of starting Mason. "It's comforting."

Winnipeg is expected to be without center Jim Slater, who took a heavy hit during the third period of Saturday's game. McArdle will make his season debut for the Jets after suffering a preseason injury on Sept. 24. Defenseman Ron Hainsey remains on injured reserve and will miss his fourth consecutive game tonight.
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Posted On Tuesday, 10.18.2011 / 4:56 PM

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

Jets' blue-line depth could be tested

WINNIPEG -- Blue-line depth is a strength for the Winnipeg Jets, and injuries could test that depth this week.

The Jets skated on Tuesday morning before departing for Toronto, where they will begin a two-game road swing that begins on Wednesday night against the Maple Leafs and continues on Thursday at Ottawa.

Veteran defensemen Ron Hainsey (upper body) departed early in the second period of Monday night's 2-1 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins and did not return. Then in the third period, defenseman Mark Stuart took a shot high to his face. Stuart missed a few shifts before returning to finish the game, but departed Tuesday morning's practice early. Both Hainsey and Stuart play key roles on the Winnipeg penalty kill.

Jets coach Claude Noel did not have an updated status on Hainsey and Stuart, but he did indicate he will insert Derek Meech into the Winnipeg lineup against the Maple Leafs. Meech, a Winnipeg native, will make his season debut after not dressing for the club's opening four games.

"Derek has shown he is a good player," Noel said. "He has experience in the League. His skating is his strength. He is a smart player, so I think he is going to have good energy. He has been dying to play, so I think he will get an opportunity."

The Jets did have left wing Evander Kane back on the ice for Tuesday morning's practice. Kane missed Monday's game after taking a puck to his foot last Saturday at Phoenix, but could return against the Maple Leafs.

Noel would not reveal whether goaltender Ondrej Pavelec, who stopped 28 shots against the Penguins, or backup Chris Mason will face the Maple Leafs, though he did tip his hand.

"I have a plan," Noel said of the goaltending situation. "My plan is to talk to [goaltending coach] Wade Flaherty. That's my plan. How would you not want to continue down the road with Pavelec? He played outstanding."

The game against Toronto begins a stretch in which the Jets will play nine of their next 11 games on the road against Eastern Conference opponents. The Jets followed their first win of the season with a practice session that Noel found to be lacking in execution.

"It takes a while to break people of some habits," Noel said. "I do get that."
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Posted On Monday, 10.17.2011 / 3:23 PM

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

Projected lineups for Penguins, Jets

WINNIPEG -- The Winnipeg Jets return home in desperate need of a win after losing the season's first three games.

The Pittsburgh Penguins present a tall order for a Jets team battling confidence and execution issues after a sloppy 4-1 loss on Saturday to the Phoenix Coyotes.

Pittsburgh did not bring a number of players for a brief two-game trip that continues on Tuesday at Minnesota. Evgeni Malkin suffered an injury in Saturday's loss to Buffalo, and Sidney Crosby continues his recovery process from a concussion. The Penguins also will not dress center Tyler Kennedy. Coach Dan Bylsma indicated that Kennedy is suffering from "concussion-like symptoms."

Penguins right wing James Neal sits atop the League scoring race with 5 goals in six games and holds a three-game goal-scoring streak entering tonight's game. The game also serves as a homecoming for Penguins right wing Arron Asham, who hails from nearby Portage la Praire, Manitoba.

PENGUINS
Chris Kunitz - Jordan Staal - Pascal Dupuis
Steve Sullivan - Richard Park - James Neal
Matt Cooke - Mark Letestu - Arron Asham
Steve MacIntyre - Joe Vitale - Craig Adams

Kris Letang - Deryk Engelland
Paul Martin - Zbynek Michalek
Ben Lovejoy - Matt Niskanen

Marc-Andre Fleury will start in net for the Penguins. Brett Johnson will serve as his backup.

JETS
Andrew Ladd - Bryan Little - Blake Wheeler
Alexander Burmistrov - Nik Antropov - Kyle Wellwood
Brett MacLean - Mark Scheifele - Tim Stapleton
Tanner Glass - Jim Slater - Chris Thorburn

Tobias Enstrom - Dustin Byfuglien
Johnny Oduya - Ron Hainsey
Mark Stuart - Zach Bogosian

Coach Claude Noel would not disclose left wing Evander Kane's injury, but it is believed that he took a puck to the foot on Saturday at Phoenix. Johnny Oduya will return to the Jets' blue line after a one-game absence, and Randy Jones will sit out.

Ondrej Pavelec is expected to start, with Chris Mason backing up for the Jets.
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Posted On Saturday, 10.08.2011 / 8:36 PM

By Patrick Williams -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2011 NHL Face-Off Blog

Meech glad to offer Winnipeg history lesson

WINNIPEG -- If any of the Winnipeg Jets need a lesson on the city's NHL history, teammate Derek Meech can provide it.

Meech made the club's roster out of training camp as a spare defenseman who's also capable of filling in as a forward. The Winnipeg native signed with the Jets this summer after six seasons in the Detroit Red Wings organization.

Meech does not expect to dress for the Jets in Sunday's season-opening game against the Montreal Canadiens. But he's the only member of the Winnipeg roster who was present for the city's last taste of NHL hockey in April 1996.

Just 12 years old when the original Winnipeg Jets bowed out to the Red Wings on April 28, 1996, Meech has since spent four seasons as a standout defenseman in the Western Hockey League, made his NHL debut with the Red Wings and scored his first goal in the League.

On Saturday morning, Meech recalled taking part in the city's famous white-outs for Jets games at the old Winnipeg Arena. A Dave Ellett poster adorned the wall of his bedroom -- and, like a lot of kids in Manitoba during the 1980s and 1990s, Meech lived and died with the fortunes of the local NHL club.

"I'm a [Jets] fan. I've been a fan for the past 15 years," he said.

Unlike a lot of Winnipeggers, the easy-going Meech did not harbor any dislike of the Calgary Flames and Edmonton Oilers, two powerhouse divisional rivals that tormented the Jets and their fans during the 1980s.

"I mostly just loved the Jets," he said.

Meech plans to bring his family's Jets loyalties full circle. Meech's father, brother and step-brother all took in that April 1996 game, and all three will be in the MTS Centre for Sunday's game.

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Posted On Saturday, 10.08.2011 / 7:39 PM

By Patrick Williams -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2011 NHL Face-Off Blog

Winnipeg gets ready

WINNIPEG -- Just a little more than 24 hours before their NHL season-opener, the Winnipeg Jets conducted their final tune-up at the MTS Centre on Saturday.

After a 5,643-day wait, on Sunday afternoon the Jets will bring the NHL back to Winnipeg for the first regular-season contest in the city since 1996. Winnipeg will host the Montreal Canadiens in a contest that will be broadcast across Canada on CBC and RDS. The NHL Network will present the 5 p.m. ET to viewers in the U.S.

The Jets skated the following forward lines and defensive pairings on Saturday:

Andrew Ladd-Bryan Little-Blake Wheeler
Evander Kane-Mark Scheifele-Kyle Wellwood
Brett MacLean-Alexander Burmistrov-Nikolai Antropov

Tanner Glass-Jim Slater-Chris Thorburn
Johnny Oduya-Dustin Byfuglien

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Posted On Friday, 10.07.2011 / 4:56 PM

By Patrick Williams -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2011 NHL Face-Off Blog

Glass predicting Cup Final-loud crowd in Winnipeg

WINNIPEG -- Twelve hours after the 2011 Molson Canadian NHL Face-Off wrapped up in downtown, the event still merited dressing-room chatter among the Winnipeg Jets.

Left wing Tanner Glass helped introduce legendary Winnipeg band Bachman & Turner during the second intermission of the Montreal Canadiens-Toronto Maple Leafs broadcast displayed on large video screens at the event.

"Awesome," Glass said. "So awesome. I knew it was going to be a (special) atmosphere there, but I didn't know the amount of people that we were going to have down there. It was pretty special."

Glass said he had a difficult time hearing questions from CBC host George Stroumboulopoulos while on the stage.

"I heard three or four words and just took a stab at it," Glass said with a laugh.

Glass played with the Vancouver Canucks last season and skated with them in the Stanley Cup Final. When asked to gauge the atmosphere that will greet the Jets on Sunday for their season-opener against the Canadiens, Glass said Winnipeg would measure up well against Canucks fans.

"It's going to be awesome," Glass predicted. "I expect it to be just as crazy here as that was. I'm looking forward to getting that first shift over with."
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Posted On Thursday, 10.06.2011 / 6:48 PM

By Patrick Williams -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2011 NHL Face-Off Blog

Winnipeg fans ready to rock

WINNIPEG -- Crowds have flocked to The Forks, Winnipeg's downtown gathering spot along the banks of the Red River.

The 2011 Molson Canadian NHL Face-Off is the draw for the crowd, estimated to be anywhere between 30,000 and 50,000 fans, ready to mark the start of the 2011-12 NHL season -- and the return to the NHL to Winnipeg after a 15-year absence. The Jets play their first game against Montreal on Sunday.

Windy but sunny and unseasonably warm weather is providing a further lure to Winnipeggers ready to mark the city's return to the NHL via the Winnipeg Jets. The NHL Network, Canadian Tire, EA Sports, Molson Canadian, Reebok, Scotiabank, Visa and XM all have booths on site.

Also providing entertainment is local band Inward Eye. Later in the evening, platinum-selling rock band Three Days Grace will play before Bachman & Turner cap the evening.

Fans will also have a chance to meet Jets captain Andrew Ladd and teammates Zach Bogosian, Tanner Glass and Mark Stuart, along with CBC host George Stroumboulopoulos. Tonight's Montreal Canadiens-Toronto Maple Leafs game is set to air on giant video boards.
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Posted On Thursday, 10.06.2011 / 4:38 PM

By Patrick Williams -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2011 NHL Face-Off Blog

Noel to do some scouting tonight

WINNIPEG -- Avoiding the opening night of NHL competition might be difficult in Winnipeg on Thursday evening.

The Montreal Canadiens and Toronto Maple Leafs will be play before a national audience on CBC's "Hockey Night In Canada." The Canadiens will visit the Jets on Sunday in Winnipeg's first NHL regular-season game since 1996.

Fans in Winnipeg will be able to watch the game on big screens at The Forks as part of the 2011 Molson Canadian NHL Face-Off on Thursday.

Jets coach Claude Noel was asked whether he would sit down with a bag of popcorn and take in the Canadiens-Maple Leafs game. Noel did not coach in the League last season, so the telecast will provide him with an early scouting report on his club's first opponent.

"I don't know about popcorn," Noel said, "but I'll watch the game tonight. Montreal, we play them, so we'll get a glimpse of what we'll be up against and go from there."

Replies from a number of Jets players varied as to whether, and how much, of Thursday's Montreal-Toronto contest they will sample.

Goaltender Ondrej Pavelec plans to take in the game at home. A quiet night at home might be the last calm that Pavelec is able to experience until Monday morning.

"(I'm) really excited," Pavelec said of Sunday's game. "It's going to be huge. It's going to be a really exciting night for us."

Still, Noel, Pavelec and the rest of the Jets all agreed that Sunday can't arrive quick enough.

"I can't wait for the season to start," Noel said.
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Posted On Thursday, 10.06.2011 / 4:33 PM

By Patrick Williams -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2011 NHL Face-Off Blog

Jets add MacLean to roster

WINNIPEG -- Hockey figures from all across the League are converging upon Winnipeg this weekend, and the Winnipeg Jets will have an addition to the roster, as well.

The Jets claimed left wing Brett MacLean on waivers Thursday morning from the Phoenix Coyotes. The Jets anticipate that the 22-year-old MacLean will arrive in Winnipeg on Thursday evening.

MacLean, who also can play right wing, was a 2007 second-round selection by the Coyotes. He scored 23 goals in 51 games with the AHL San Antonio Rampage, while also scoring 2 goals in 13 NHL games with the Coyotes.

"He is someone that our scouts have identified as maybe a guy who can break into the NHL on a full-time basis," Winnipeg General Manager Kevin Cheveldayoff told media. "In this case, an opportunity to see what MacLean brings to our organization. Maybe he gives a little more depth in the organization."

To clear room on the Winnipeg roster, the Jets sent right wing Patrice Cormier to their American Hockey League affiliate, the St. John's IceCaps.

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