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Posted On Wednesday, 09.11.2013 / 3:24 PM

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

Noel: Improved depth improves Jets' playoff hopes

WINNIPEG -- The Winnipeg Jets reported to MTS Centre on Wednesday for physicals, but the real work of answering a long list of questions will begin when they take the ice Thursday to prepare for their first season in the Western Conference.

While the Jets gave coach Claude Noel a one-year contract extension this summer, there will be considerable pressure on him, in his third season, to take the organization into the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the first time since 2007, when the franchise was located in Atlanta. Another postseason miss could leave Noel’s future behind the Winnipeg bench in jeopardy.

"I'm certainly ready to go," Noel told reporters in his season-opening address. "I'm anticipating some very good things this year."

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Posted On Thursday, 04.25.2013 / 2:12 PM

By Patrick Williams -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2012-2013 At the Rink blog

Sputtering Canadiens can end Jets' season

WINNIPEG -- The Montreal Canadiens look to remedy their sputtering play when they visit the Winnipeg Jets at MTS Centre.

The Canadiens, who have four wins in their past 10 games, have an invitation to the Stanley Cup Playoffs. The Jets, meanwhile, are clinging to the faintest of postseason hopes.

Montreal coach Michel Therrien will insert rookie defensemen Jarred Tinordi, whom the Canadiens recalled from the Hamilton Bulldogs of the American Hockey League this week, and pair him with veteran Francis Bouillon. Tinordi, whom the Canadiens selected with the 22nd pick in the 2010 NHL Draft, was named the Bulldogs' defenseman of the year along with fellow rookie Nathan Beaulieu. Tinordi will replace Yannick Weber on the Montreal blue line.

Travis Moen will sit out his second consecutive game for the Canadiens, and Ryan White will serve the final game of his five-game NHL suspension.

Jets coach Claude Noel said he will not alter his lineup but could juggle his defensive pairings. The Jets are missing top defensemen Zach Bogosian and Tobias Enstrom. They also remain without centermen Olli Jokinen and Jim Slater.

Montreal's Carey Price will make his seventh consecutive start in goal and face Winnipeg workhorse Ondrej Pavelec, who will close out the Jets' regular season with his 13th straight starting assignment.

Here are the projected lineups for the Canadiens and Jets:

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Posted On Thursday, 04.18.2013 / 2:08 PM

By Patrick Williams -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2012-2013 At the Rink blog

Jets go for fifth straight win on critical homestand

WINNIPEG -- The Winnipeg Jets face another crucial game Thursday evening when they play the Carolina Hurricanes at MTS Centre.

Sitting in ninth place and tied at 46 points with the eighth-place New York Rangers, the Jets will again be without first-pairing defenseman Tobias Enstrom (mid-body), who will miss his third straight game. The Jets have won the first four games of their six-game homestand that ends Saturday afternoon against the New York Islanders.

The Hurricanes have lost four consecutive road games and will be without forward Jeff Skinner, who left their 3-2 road loss to the Ottawa Senators on Tuesday. Skinner joins goalie Cam Ward, defenseman Joni Pitkanen and forward Tim Brent among the Carolina injured. After the morning skate, coach Kirk Muller said he hopes Skinner will return this weekend when the Hurricanes play a pair of back-to-back games.

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Posted On Tuesday, 04.16.2013 / 2:40 PM

By Patrick Williams -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2012-2013 At the Rink blog

Lightning look to future with Bishop under contract

WINNIPEG -- The Tampa Bay Lightning have only the slimmest of chances to still reach the Stanley Cup Playoffs this spring, but they have secured a key part of their future.

Goaltender Ben Bishop signed a two-year contract extension Monday after the Lightning arrived here for their game Tuesday evening with the Winnipeg Jets. The Lightning acquired Bishop from the Ottawa Senators on April 3 at the NHL Trade Deadline for speedy forward Cory Conacher.

The 26-year-old has gone 2-3-0 in six games with Tampa Bay and posted a .916 save percentage to go with his 3.21 goals-against average. Bishop earned a 45-save shutout in his Tampa Bay debut April 4 against the Carolina Hurricanes and has assumed the Lightning's No. 1 job with an ankle injury having sidelined Anders Lindback since March 20.

"It's definitely nice to have, but it doesn't change anything," Bishop said after Tampa Bay's morning skate at MTS Centre. "It's just a piece of paper. I still have to go out there and perform and do [my] job."

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Posted On Tuesday, 04.16.2013 / 2:19 PM

By Patrick Williams -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2012-2013 At the Rink blog

Jets face critical home contest in playoff push

WINNIPEG -- The Winnipeg Jets’ margin for error is slim Tuesday evening as they begin their final push toward what would be their first berth in the Stanley Cup Playoffs since 2007.

The Jets will meet the Tampa Bay Lightning at MTS Centre without defenseman Tobias Enstrom, who is out with what the Jets are terming a "mid-body injury." The Jets downgraded Enstrom’s status to week-to-week during their four-day break.

Jets coach Claude Noel said center Nik Antropov, who has not played since April 2, is a possibility to return later this week as the Jets close out their six-game homestand.

Ondrej Pavelec will again start in net for Winnipeg.

Here is the projected lineup for the Jets:

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Posted On Thursday, 04.11.2013 / 2:20 PM

By Patrick Williams -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2012-2013 At the Rink blog

Jets continue playoff push with Enstrom sidelined

WINNIPEG -- The Winnipeg Jets' push to earn the franchise's first berth in the Stanley Cup Playoffs since 2007 continues Thursday against the Florida Panthers.

The clubs meet at MTS Centre, where the Jets play the third game on their six-game homestand. They'll do so without defenseman Tobias Enstrom, who exited their 4-1 win Tuesday against the Buffalo Sabres after a heavy hit from Steve Ott. Jets coach Claude Noel labeled Enstrom as day-to-day with what was termed a mid-body injury. Paul Postma will replace Enstrom.

Defenseman Mike Weaver (lower body) did not accompany the Panthers on their one-game trip to Winnipeg, but his return reportedly is imminent. Center Drew Shore has missed three games but could dress Thursday.

It is expected Jacob Markstrom will start in goal for the Panthers after a one-game respite Sunday. Ondrej Pavelec will make his 38th appearance for the Jets, ranking him second in the NHL to Pekka Rinne of the Nashville Predators.

Here are the projected lineups for the Panthers and Jets:

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Posted On Tuesday, 04.09.2013 / 1:53 PM

By Patrick Williams -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2012-2013 At the Rink blog

Vanek possibility to return as Sabres visit Jets

WINNIPEG -- The Buffalo Sabres and Winnipeg Jets meet Tuesday at MTS Centre with Eastern Conference playoff positioning at stake.

After the Sabres' morning skate at MTS Centre, Buffalo coach Ron Rolston said leading scorer Thomas Vanek, who has missed six games with an upper-body injury, is a possibility to return against the Jets. Rolston also indicated that Ville Leino likely will not return during the regular season because of an upper-body injury.

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Posted On Sunday, 03.24.2013 / 4:38 PM

By Patrick Williams -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2012-2013 At the Rink blog

Noel understands situation facing Lightning coaches

WINNIPEG -- When Daniel Lacroix, Martin Raymond and Steve Thomas assume interim coaching duties for the Tampa Bay Lightning on Sunday against the Winnipeg Jets, they will find a kindred spirit in the coach standing behind the Winnipeg bench.

The trio will serve as Tampa Bay's interim coaches while Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman searches for a full-time replacement for Guy Boucher, who was fired late Saturday night.

Jets coach Claude Noel replaced Ken Hitchcock with the Columbus Blue Jackets during the 2009-10 season. Noel, an assistant coach on Hitchcock's staff, took over Feb. 3, 2010 and finished the season with a 10-8-6 record. The Blue Jackets did not retain Noel after the season.

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Posted On Sunday, 03.24.2013 / 4:08 PM

By Patrick Williams -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2012-2013 At the Rink blog

Lightning players shifting focus to game vs. Jets

WINNIPEG -- Members of the Tampa Bay Lightning filtered out of the team's pre-game meal Sunday at their downtown hotel and tried to explain the firing of coach Guy Boucher.

Boucher's dismissal came hours before the Lightning meet the Winnipeg Jets at MTS Centre. Tampa Bay enters the game 14th in the Eastern Conference, five points out of a playoff spot.

"I think all the rest of us in here have to look at ourselves in the mirror," Martin St. Louis said, "and say, 'You know what? I probably can do more, could have done more and am able to do more.'"

Boucher's firing means that 23-year-old Steven Stamkos will play for his fourth coach in five seasons when vice president and general manager Steve Yzerman names Boucher's replacement.

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Posted On Sunday, 03.24.2013 / 2:57 PM

By Patrick Williams -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2012-2013 At the Rink blog

Projected lineups for Lightning, Jets

WINNIPEG -- The Winnipeg Jets have plenty of turmoil after consecutive home losses in which the Washington Capitals outscored them 10-1.

But Sunday the Jets will face the Tampa Bay Lightning at MTS Centre, an opponent with even more upheaval after the Lightning fired coach Guy Boucher early Sunday morning. General manager Steve Yzerman announced Sunday that assistant coaches Daniel Lacroix and Martin Raymond, along with player development coach Steve Thomas, will run the Tampa Bay bench on an interim basis.

After playing Saturday at the Ottawa Senators, the Lightning did not have a pre-game skate Sunday morning.

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Quote of the Day

There was a lot of talk off the ice. From a player's standpoint, that's not the talk in the room. GMs make decisions, coaches make decisions, but as a team you have to come together and be ready to go, and we are.

— San Jose Sharks forward Tommy Wingels on his team's approach entering training camp