Posted On Wednesday, 03.12.2014 / 2:08 PM

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

Jets host Canucks in battle of desperate teams

WINNIPEG -- Two desperate teams play Wednesday at MTS Centre when the Winnipeg Jets host the Vancouver Canucks.

The Canucks arrived Tuesday off a 7-4 home loss against the New York Islanders when they surrendered a 3-0 lead and allowed seven third-period goals.

The Canucks will not have any time to dwell on the loss when they attempt to stay in the Western Conference race for a wild-card spot in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. The Canucks and Jets sit at 68 points, six points behind the Dallas Stars for the second wild-card spot. The Jets hold a game in hand on the Canucks. The Phoenix Coyotes, who have 73 points, also separate the Canucks and Jets from Dallas.

The Canucks opted to not hold a morning skate Wednesday. Canucks forward Zack Kassian will serve the final of his three-game suspension for his hit on Stars defenseman Brenden Dillon on March 6.

A four-game losing streak (0-2-2) has put the Jets in a desperate situation and undone some of the progress of an 11-3-1 run after coach Paul Maurice replaced Claude Noel on Jan. 12.

"We need both points right now," center Bryan Little said of the Jets, who lost 3-2 in overtime Monday at the Colorado Avalanche. "The teams that we are chasing are playing well and winning games. You look at the standings and they're starting to get a bit of a gap on us. Every game is big and we need two points."

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Posted On Thursday, 03.06.2014 / 2:49 PM

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

Gaborik era for Kings begins against Jets

WINNIPEG -- The Marian Gaborik era starts Thursday for the Los Angeles Kings when they begin a three-game road trip against the Winnipeg Jets.

The Kings, who have won five games in a row, acquired Gaborik on Wednesday in a trade with the Columbus Blue Jackets for forward Matt Frattin, a second- or third-round pick in the 2014 or 2015 NHL Draft, and a conditional pick in either 2014 or 2015.

Gaborik, who had six goals and eight assists in 22 games with Columbus this season, arrived in Winnipeg and joined his new teammates for their morning skate at MTS Centre.

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Posted On Tuesday, 03.04.2014 / 2:41 PM

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

Amid trade rumors, Islanders set to face surging Jets

WINNIPEG -- Stuck in a 2-7-1 slide, the New York Islanders face the Winnipeg Jets on Tuesday along with many trade rumors.

Defenseman Andrew MacDonald was traded Tuesday afternoon to the Philadelphia Flyers for a third-round pick in the 2014 NHL Draft, a second-round pick in 2015 and center Matt Mangene.

Left wing Thomas Vanek may also be on the move leading into the NHL Trade Deadline on Wednesday at 3 p.m. ET.

Though the Islanders have a game to play against the Jets, they have not been able to seal off their dressing room completely from the trade talk that is dominating television and radio as they begin their four-game journey through Western Canada this week.

"The bottom line is that you have to try not to think about it, it's really out of your control at this point," Islanders defenseman Travis Hamonic said after the team's morning skate at MTS Centre. "If management is going to make a move, they're going to make a move. You try not to worry about it, but as a player it definitely looms over your head."

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Posted On Thursday, 02.27.2014 / 3:36 PM

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

Jets regain services of Kane, Slater for playoff push

WINNIPEG -- The final push to what the Phoenix Coyotes and Winnipeg Jets hope is a berth in the Stanley Cup Playoffs in April begins Thursday when the teams meet at MTS Centre.

The Coyotes own a two-point lead on the Jets in the Western Conference postseason chase and remain one point behind the Vancouver Canucks for a wild-card spot. Coach Dave Tippett's Coyotes, who will play Friday at the Colorado Avalanche, also hold two games in hand on the Jets.

"Anybody that is in the race, they're talking about the same things," Tippett said after the Coyotes' morning skate. "A short season is coming, and everybody has to play [in] a playoff mode. The teams that do it successfully are going to get in."

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Posted On Friday, 01.31.2014 / 3:28 PM

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

Banged-up Canucks intend to stay the course

WINNIPEG -- The Vancouver Canucks begin a five-game road trip with some questions to answer when they face the Winnipeg Jets on Friday at MTS Centre.

The Canucks have lost two games in a row and are trying to fend off four teams, including the Jets, chasing them for a Stanley Cup Playoff spot in the Western Conference.

"Right now, we're facing what every team goes through at some point in the year," said right wing Alexandre Burrows, who has not scored a goal this season in 23 games. "Right now, we're in it. But we're sticking together. We're 20 guys who are going to push together to get out of it, and we're confident that we're going to get it done."

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Posted On Tuesday, 01.28.2014 / 2:47 PM

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

Hand infection shelves Jets' Kane until Olympic break

WINNIPEG -- A hand infection will keep Winnipeg Jets left wing Evander Kane out of the lineup Tuesday against the Nashville Predators and out until at least the Olympic break.

Kane sustained the hand injury Jan. 7 in a fight with Eric Brewer of the Tampa Bay Lightning. Kane missed four games with the injury before returning for the revitalized Jets' past four games.

Chris Thorburn will take Kane's place on the Jets' second line with Blake Wheeler and rookie center Mark Scheifele. Wheeler, who leads the team with 21 goals, sat out the morning skate Tuesday but will play against the Predators.

James Wright will take Thorburn's spot on the Jets' fourth line.

"It's a really unfortunate setback for [Kane]. For our team but certainly for him because I liked the way he was coming and going and we're going to miss him," coach Paul Maurice said of Kane's injury.

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Posted On Saturday, 01.25.2014 / 2:27 PM

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

Defensive mindset taking hold for Jets

WINNIPEG – The Toronto Maple Leafs will provide the Winnipeg Jets and new coach Paul Maurice their latest test when the teams meet Saturday at MTS Centre.

The Jets are 4-1-0 since Maurice replaced Claude Noel on Jan. 12, the only blemish on their record a 1-0 road loss against the San Jose Sharks on Thursday. The loss at San Jose ended the Jets' four-game winning streak, which had tied a season-best.

While defensive struggles plagued the Jets all season with Noel running the Jets, they have tightened up using adjustments that Maurice has made. The Jets have allowed eight goals in Maurice's five-game tenure.

The Jets have taken well to Maurice, but the coaching veteran of 1,089 NHL games explained Saturday after the team's morning skate that he is still learning his team.

"It's a hard question to answer," Maurice replied when asked how well he knows his new roster. "I'm not there yet. It's going to take a while. I probably won't get to truly understand each individual by the end of the year. It takes time."

But Jets center Bryan Little, who had two goals and six assists in his past five games before the loss at San Jose, believes that the Jets' mindset has changed with Maurice.

"He has kind of made it clear that we need to be a defense-first team," Little said. "You look at a lot of the good teams in the League, and they're all tough to play against, and they're all tough to get chances against. They're all good defensive teams, and I think we're finally finding out – or finally buying in – that we need to shut the other team down before we can worry about scoring goals."

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Posted On Monday, 01.13.2014 / 5:30 PM

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

Maurice ready for challenge as Jets' new coach

WINNIPEG -- Paul Maurice began his first day on the job as the Winnipeg Jets' new coach Monday.

The 46-year-old with 1,084 games behind NHL benches arrived in Winnipeg on Sunday night, met briefly with his new team Monday and then conducted the morning skate at MTS Centre prior to the game Monday against the Phoenix Coyotes.

Maurice has coached the Hartford Whalers/Carolina Hurricanes franchise on two separate occasions with the Toronto Maple Leafs sandwiched between. Maurice last coached in the League in 2011 before the Hurricanes replaced him with Kirk Muller. Maurice spent the 2012-13 season in the Kontinental Hockey League with Metallurg Magnitogorsk.

Jets general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff reached out last week to Maurice, who has been working as a TSN studio analyst this season, to gauge his potential interest in taking over the Jets' coaching job for Claude Noel.

"It was very, very quick," Maurice said of his negotiations with Cheveldayoff. "Didn't take long. I wanted to be here."

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Posted On Monday, 01.13.2014 / 2:27 PM

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

Maurice to make Jets coaching debut against Coyotes

WINNIPEG -- The Phoenix Coyotes will become the latest team to see a new-look version of the Winnipeg Jets when they play Monday at MTS Centre.

The Jets fired coach Claude Noel on Sunday and replaced him with Paul Maurice. Maurice arrived in Winnipeg on Sunday evening and met with his new players briefly Monday before the team's morning skate.

Before Noel departed he shuffled the Jets' lines and defensive pairings several times. The changes culminated with the move of defenseman Dustin Byfuglien to the team's top line this past Saturday in Noel's final game behind the Jets' bench, a 6-3 loss against the Columbus Blue Jackets.

Maurice shuffled the lines again Monday. With Evander Kane (hand) expected to miss his second straight game, Michael Frolik will join captain Andrew Ladd and Bryan Little on the first line. Byfuglien will skate with Olli Jokinen and Devin Setoguchi while leading goal-scorer Blake Wheeler will play alongside Mark Scheifele and Chris Thorburn. Forward Eric Tangradi (flu) missed the morning skate and is not expected to play.

Asked what he expects from his new team against Phoenix, Maurice admitted that he does not know what to expect.

"I'm going to be completely honest with you," he said. "Your guess is as good as mine."

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Posted On Saturday, 01.11.2014 / 1:41 PM

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

Byfuglien at forward highlights Jets' shuffle

WINNIPEG – The made-over Winnipeg Jets will attempt to end their four-game losing streak Saturday when they meet the Columbus Blue Jackets at MTS Centre.

The Blue Jackets claimed a 3-0 home win against the Carolina Hurricanes on Friday before making the long flight to Winnipeg. The Blue Jackets' early-morning arrival in Winnipeg meant that they did not hold a morning skate Saturday.

Winnipeg's slide to the bottom of the Central Division has spurred coach Claude Noel to shuffle all four of his forward lines, headlined by defenseman Dustin Byfuglien assuming a spot on the right side of the Jets' top unit with Bryan Little and captain Andrew Ladd.

"It's something I've just got to go out and do," Byfuglien said of his switch to forward. "I'm just here to work."

Noel said he will be patient with Byfuglien, who had a limited stint at forward last season.

"It's a lot different playing forward and defense, Noel said. "I think we have to be patient in our assessment of things."

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Quote of the Day

It's something that you don't really envision starting this way, but when you put the work in you don't feel like it's unwarranted. You definitely don't envision it unfolding this way, but you do think you can be successful at this level.

— Senators goalie Andrew Hammond, who defeated the Jets on Wednesday to improve to 6-0-1 since making his first NHL start on Feb. 18