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Posted On Saturday, 11.02.2013 / 2:12 PM

By Patrick Williams -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Blackhawks captain Toews back home in Winnipeg

WINNIPEG -- Chicago Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews makes his hometown return when his team plays the Winnipeg Jets at MTS Centre on Saturday.

Toews met with the Winnipeg media Saturday morning before the Blackhawks-Jets matinee that will be his first NHL regular-season game in his hometown since the NHL returned to Winnipeg in 2011.

Toews played college hockey at the University of North Dakota, a short drive from Winnipeg, and played a 2010 preseason game here with the Blackhawks, but opportunities for him to play close to home have been limited.

"It will be an emotional game," Toews said. "It's kind of weird being back here during the season."

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Posted On Tuesday, 10.22.2013 / 2:20 PM

By Patrick Williams -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Capitals hope to continue success in Winnipeg

WINNIPEG -- The Washington Capitals return to where they triggered the beginning of the Winnipeg Jets' demise last spring.

Southeast Division members until NHL realignment split them this past summer, the Capitals and Jets will reunite at MTS Centre when they meet Tuesday in the Capitals' only visit to Winnipeg this season.

In March the Capitals took 4-0 and 6-1 wins in back-to-back games in Winnipeg that triggered a month-long run that pushed the Capitals past the Jets to an eventual Southeast Division title. The Capitals, who begin a season-long five-game road trip Tuesday, have shut out the Jets in three of the teams' past five meetings in Winnipeg, outscoring them 16-4 in those five games.

"[The back-to-back wins were] the turning [point] of our season," Capitals goaltender Braden Holtby said after the team's morning skate. "Our team played great here."


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Posted On Sunday, 10.20.2013 / 1:34 PM

By Patrick Williams -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Injuries force Jets to find new third defense pairing

WINNIPEG -- The Winnipeg Jets picked up a badly needed 4-3 shootout win on home ice Friday against the St. Louis Blues, but the victory came with a cost.

The Winnipeg blue line lost its third pairing Friday, forcing the Jets to skate with four defensemen for much of the third period. Dustin Byfuglien skated a career-high 31:37 in picking up the workload after the Jets lost rookie Jacob Trouba and Mark Stuart to injuries.

Trouba left the game on a stretcher after falling face-first into the end boards while attempting to hit Blues defenseman Jordan Leopold. Trouba was released from a Winnipeg hospital late Friday night and is expected to miss a month with a neck sprain. Trouba's partner, Mark Stuart, exited the game in the third period after crashing into the Winnipeg net.

Jets coach Claude Noel will dress Paul Postma and Adam Pardy, a recall from the St. John's IceCaps of the American Hockey League on Saturday, in place of Stuart and Trouba.


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Posted On Friday, 10.18.2013 / 3:00 PM

By Patrick Williams -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Jets determined to dictate game's pace

WINNIPEG -- The losses and the pressure are mounting for the Winnipeg Jets, and a date Friday with the St. Louis Blues does not seem like much relief.

"The competitive nature of the [Western Conference] is fierce right now," Jets coach Claude Noel said.

The Jets (3-4-0) are in the middle of a six-game homestand but have lost four of their past five games. Winnipeg faces a difficult 10-game stretch that begins Friday, and Noel's team needs points to keep pace in the Central Division.

Winnipeg will meet the Blues for the first time since realignment put the clubs in the same division. The Blues (5-1-0) arrived in Winnipeg early Friday morning from Chicago, where they had beaten the Blackhawks 3-2 in a shootout Thursday. St. Louis coach Ken Hitchcock did not schedule a morning skate for his team.

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Posted On Tuesday, 10.15.2013 / 2:38 PM

By Patrick Williams -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Canadiens hope to finish road trip on high note

WINNIPEG -- The Montreal Canadiens have an opportunity to head back home happy when they meet the Winnipeg Jets at MTS Centre on Tuesday.

The Canadiens (3-2-0) took two of three games last week in Western Canada, and a win against the Jets would wrap the trip nicely for coach Michel Therrien and his team. After playing Winnipeg, Montreal will play six of its next seven games at Bell Centre.

"It has been a long road trip," Canadiens center Lars Eller said, "and we want to round it out in a good way before we get back home. I think everybody is very excited to get back home, but we want to finish off in a good way, and that's going to make [returning home] that much better."

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Posted On Sunday, 10.13.2013 / 1:55 PM

By Patrick Williams -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Jets, Devils shuffle lines in advance of meeting

WINNIPEG – Three consecutive losses for the Winnipeg Jets mean that their forward lines will have a new look when they meet the winless New Jersey Devils at MTS Centre on Sunday evening.

At the Jets’ (2-3-0) morning skate Sunday, coach Claude Noel broke up the trio of captain Andrew Ladd, Bryan Little and Blake Wheeler, his top line that had carried the Jets for much of last season. Evander Kane will replace Ladd on the Jets’ top line, while Ladd will skate alongside rookie Mark Scheifele and Michael Frolik.

“I think we have to play better in a general sense,” Noel said of the line changes. “Will the lines do that because of the changes? We’ll see.”

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Posted On Friday, 10.11.2013 / 2:36 PM

By Patrick Williams -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Stars wary of long layoff as they prepare for Jets

WINNIPEG -- After losing two straight, the Winnipeg Jets open a season-long six-game homestand against the well-rested Dallas Stars Friday night at MTS Centre.

The Jets (2-2-0) dropped their second consecutive game, a 2-1 loss against the Minnesota Wild on Thursday night. The Stars (1-1-0) have not played since last Saturday, when they defeated the Washington Capitals, 2-1.

After 14 years in the former Pacific Division, the Stars will play their first divisional matchup as a member of the new Central Division. Dallas leads the all-time series between the teams 11-2-1.

Dallas coach Lindy Ruff is wary of his team's six-day layoff.

"Those one-on-one compete situations that are hard to simulate in practice. That [is what] you've got to be ready for," Ruff said after the Stars' morning skate at MTS Centre. "Teams that have played more games are usually into those combat situations. To play a couple of games and then sit around for [six] days, I think it always hurts a team."

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Posted On Sunday, 10.06.2013 / 2:32 PM

By Patrick Williams -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Jets welcome Selanne, shoot for franchise's first 3-0 start

WINNIPEG – Teemu Selanne's mere early-morning arrival created a buzz, but the Anaheim Ducks and Winnipeg Jets have a game to play Sunday night at MTS Centre.

The Jets have taken their first two games this season, and a win against the Ducks would give the franchise its first-ever 3-0-0 start. Anaheim took a 4-3 overtime win Saturday night on the road against the Minnesota Wild and will wrap up its three-game season-opening trip against the Jets before returning to the West Coast.

Selanne did not dress against Minnesota as part of an offseason plan designed to ease his workload this season. The Ducks play 14 back-to-back set this season, and Selanne will play one game per set.

Selanne spent parts of four seasons with the original Winnipeg Jets franchise in the 1990s, playing 231 games and scoring 147 of his 675 career NHL goals. He won the Calder Memorial Trophy with 76-goal rookie debut in the 1992-93 season.

While the 43-year-old made his on-ice return to Winnipeg in December 2011, even his subsequent return this weekend has drawn crowds to the Ducks' downtown hotel and massive media attention for what is expected to be his final regular-season game in Winnipeg.

"He deserves it," Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau said of Selanne. "We want him to play. We'd like him to score a couple of goals and make this a perfect farewell."

The Jets are also aware of Selanne's stature in the city.

"He's a freak of nature," Jets right wing Blake Wheeler said of Selanne. "He has been the model of consistency, and he is someone that I think a lot of young guys look up to, especially guys who play forward."

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Posted On Friday, 10.04.2013 / 1:53 PM

By Patrick Williams -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Jets hoping to come out firing against Kings

WINNIPEG -– The Winnipeg Jets' fresh legs will meet an opponent in the Los Angeles Kings that is playing its second game in 24 hours when the teams meet Friday night at MTS Centre.

The Kings opened their season Thursday night on the road by grinding out a come-from-behind 3-2 shootout win against the Minnesota Wild. Winnipeg opened its season Tuesday with a third-period rally of its own in taking a 5-4 win against the Edmonton Oilers.

Only four Kings participated in the team's morning skate after a late arrival in Winnipeg from Minnesota. Jets right wing Blake Wheeler watched the Los Angeles-Minnesota game on television, and he expects the Kings to attempt to slow down a quick Jets team, especially with L.A. playing on consecutive nights.

"From our side, we've got to come at them and try to make them skate with us," Wheeler said after the Jets' morning skate.

Winnipeg plays eight of its next nine games at home and needs a strong month to establish itself as a legitimate player in the Western Conference, especially after posting a 13-10-1 home record last season that ranked 21st in the League. Jets coach Claude Noel is interested to see how his team fares against an opponent that plays a very conservative game. In his third season at the helm in Winnipeg, Noel has made a stronger commitment to defensive play a major priority in 2013-14.

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Posted On Wednesday, 09.11.2013 / 4:09 PM

By Patrick Williams -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Training Camp 2013 blog

New-look Jets determined to be better

WINNIPEG -- The Winnipeg Jets retained their coaching staff this summer, but it will have a new look.

The Jets coupled a 30th-place showing on the power play last season with the penalty kill's 24th-place finish. The organization has made retooling the club's special-teams play a top priority.

To that end, coach Claude Noel announced that assistant coach Pascal Vincent will focus on the power play, while veteran assistant Perry Pearn will work on fixing the club's penalty kill, with help from Charlie Huddy.

"We have to be better," Noel said.

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This is a big year for us in a lot of ways. You can see Garth and management really trying to find that solution to get us into the playoffs and consistently have that. The pressure is great. You have to enjoy it. It just means there's a great opportunity ahead of you.

— Islanders captain John Tavares