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Posted On Thursday, 04.10.2014 / 3:10 PM

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

Bruins' Krejci back in vs. Jets, Bergeron likely to rest

WINNIPEG -- The Boston Bruins can move a step closer to their first Presidents' Trophy since the 1989-90 season when they meet the Winnipeg Jets on Thursday at MTS Centre.

The Bruins have 114 points and lead the Anaheim Ducks by two. The Bruins, who begin a stretch of three games in four days, have a game in hand on the Ducks. With the Eastern Conference top seed clinched, the Bruins' next goal is to earn home-ice advantage throughout the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Center David Krejci will return to the lineup after having Tuesday off against the Minnesota Wild.

"I'm excited to play," Krejci said after the morning skate. "It was nice to get a little time off, but at the same time it's not fun to watch the game from the stands, the dressing room or [television]. I'm glad I'm back and looking forward to it."

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Posted On Monday, 04.07.2014 / 3:18 PM

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

Wild expect fight from Jets; Byfuglien out for season

WINNIPEG -- The Minnesota Wild will look to move one step closer to a return visit to the Stanley Cup Playoffs when they visit the Winnipeg Jets on Monday.

The Wild have 92 points and hold the Western Conference's first wild-card spot after defeating the Pittsburgh Penguins 4-0 at home Saturday. The game against the Jets will be the final road game of the season for the Wild, who are 4-1-2 in their past seven road games.

"Obviously we still need points," said Wild captain Mikko Koivu, who has four multi-point games in his past 10. "That's the most important thing, but it's also talking about the processing, getting our game better and getting better as a team. Our goal is to make the playoffs and be at our best when the playoffs start."

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Posted On Thursday, 04.03.2014 / 3:22 PM

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

Martin back in Penguins lineup against Jets

WINNIPEG -- The Pittsburgh Penguins will have defenseman Paul Martin back when they play the Winnipeg Jets on Thursday at MTS Centre.

Martin has missed the Penguins' past 18 games with a broken hand and has not dressed for an NHL game since Feb. 7. He broke his hand playing for the United States at the 2014 Sochi Olympics.

Injuries have hampered the 33-year-old, who missed 23 games earlier in the season with a broken tibia and has played 33 games this season. He has two goals and 10 assists.

"The doctors said that it was up to me," said Martin, who resumed practicing with his teammates this week. "I said I'm ready."

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Posted On Saturday, 03.22.2014 / 1:38 PM

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

Byfuglien, Bogosian expected back for Jets

WINNIPEG -- The Winnipeg Jets will attempt to remain in contention for a spot in the Stanley Cup Playoffs when they host the Carolina Hurricanes at MTS Centre on Saturday.

The Hurricanes arrived early Saturday after a 3-2 road loss against the Chicago Blackhawks on Friday and did not conduct a morning skate. The game Saturday will mark the third time in the Jets' past four at home they have faced an opponent that played the night before. The Jets, who have not played since defeating the Colorado Avalanche 5-4 in overtime Wednesday, are 2-1-0 in those games.

Wrapping up a three-game road trip, the Hurricanes have fallen out of contention for the Stanley Cup Playoffs in the Eastern Conference, although they are still mathematically eligible to qualify. The Jets are six points behind the Phoenix Coyotes for the second wild-card spot in the Western Conference; Phoenix owns a game in hand. After meeting Carolina, the Jets begin a five-game road trip next week against the Dallas Stars.

"We're excited to play," Jets defenseman Mark Stuart said after the morning skate. "We're excited for this last stretch. We want to end this homestand on the right note and have some momentum going into this trip. We've put ourselves in a position [to contend]. That's what is so fun about this time of year.

"This is the best time of the year. You're playing for something, and we're right in the hunt. We've got a lot of work to do, but that's what makes it fun, too. The challenge is there and I think we're up for it."

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Posted On Wednesday, 03.19.2014 / 2:54 PM

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

Pavelec, Byfuglien out for Jets against Avalanche

WINNIPEG -- The injury-plagued Winnipeg Jets will attempt to pull themselves back into contention for a spot in the Stanley Cup Playoffs when they host the Colorado Avalanche at MTS Centre.

After a 6-3 road loss Tuesday against the Montreal Canadiens, the Avalanche made the journey to Winnipeg. They did not hold a morning skate after arriving early Wednesday.

Colorado is 4-3-0 in the second game played on consecutive days, but the Jets don't see the Avalanche's schedule factoring too greatly into their matchup Wednesday night.

"You can't expect a team to be a little slower or a little tired when they have back-to-back games," said Jets center Bryan Little, whose team is 3-4-0 against teams playing for the second time in 24 hours.

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Posted On Sunday, 03.16.2014 / 3:50 PM

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

Jets without Pavelec, Montoya to start, against Stars

WINNIPEG -- The Dallas Stars have an opportunity to gain more ground on the Winnipeg Jets on Sunday at MTS Centre.

The Stars hold the second wild-card spot in the Western Conference in their bid to reach the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the first time since 2008. Dallas owns a six-point advantage on Winnipeg and two games in hand when they begin a three-game road trip this week.

"It seems like every game is desperation time for us [and] for [Winnipeg]," Stars coach Lindy Ruff said after the morning skate. "We realize as a team where [Winnipeg is] at, and I think they look at this game as do-or-die and a chance to move up against a team that is in a playoff spot."

The Stars expect to have center Cody Eakin back in the lineup. Eakin missed the Stars' 4-3 shootout loss at home against the Calgary Flames on Friday with a lower-body injury.

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Posted On Friday, 03.14.2014 / 2:38 PM

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

Points key as Rangers, Jets look to end slumps

WINNIPEG -- The New York Rangers need points to tighten their grip on a Stanley Cup Playoff spot in the Eastern Conference spot while the Winnipeg Jets simply need points to remain in contention in the Western Conference.

The teams play at MTS Centre on Friday looking to halt recent skids.

The Rangers arrived after a 2-1 road loss against the Minnesota Wild on Thursday needing to improve on a 4-5-1 record in their past 10 games. This game will end a three-game road trip that is 0-2-0 so far.

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Posted On Wednesday, 03.12.2014 / 2:08 PM

By Patrick Williams -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 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 -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 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 -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 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 -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 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 -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 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 -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 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 -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 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 -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 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 -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 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 -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 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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Posted On Tuesday, 01.07.2014 / 3:20 PM

By Patrick Williams -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Road to Sochi blog

Lightning's Stamkos keeps sights set on Olympics

WINNIPEG -- Tampa Bay Lightning center Steven Stamkos faces one final obstacle in his bid to represent Canada at the Sochi Olympics in February.

The 23-year-old center broke his right tibia after crashing into the net in a road game against the Boston Bruins on Nov. 11, and the injury has cost him 25 games. Despite the injury, Hockey Canada named Stamkos to their Olympic team for the first time. Stamkos has scored 14 goals in his 17 games with the Lightning this season and would be a first-time Olympian.

"You're on the team right now," Stamkos said after participating in the Lightning's optional morning skate before their game against the Winnipeg Jets on Tuesday. "That really doesn't mean anything if I can't get back and play. This is a dream come true to be named to the team, but I still have a hard work ahead of me in order to make sure I can play."


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Posted On Tuesday, 01.07.2014 / 1:54 PM

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

Lightning look to finish trip on positive note

WINNIPEG -- The Tampa Bay Lightning wrap a four-game trip through Western Canada when they meet the Winnipeg Jets at MTS Centre, but they will do so without goaltender Ben Bishop.

The Lightning are 7-2-1 in their past 10 games, a span that has seen them allow 20 goals. Five of those goals-against came in a 5-3 loss against the Edmonton Oilers on Sunday.

Bishop, who exited the game at Edmonton with a right hand injury, will not dress for the Lightning against Winnipeg. His status for the Lightning remains undetermined and coach Jon Cooper indicated he will know more about Bishop's status when the Lightning return home.

The Lightning recalled goaltender Cedrick Desjardins from the Syracuse Crunch of the American Hockey League to back up Anders Lindback.


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Posted On Tuesday, 12.31.2013 / 2:04 PM

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

Sabres looking to duplicate success against Jets

WINNIPEG – The Winnipeg Jets will attempt to avoid duplicating a hard-learned lesson when they meet the Buffalo Sabres on Tuesday at MTS Centre.

The Sabres dealt the Jets a 4-2 defeat two weeks ago in Buffalo. The loss extended a pattern for the Jets of losing to teams placed well below them in the overall League standings.

However, that game in Buffalo sparked a surge for the Sabres (11-24-4), who have gone 3-1-1 since the win against the Jets and have defeated the Boston Bruins, Phoenix Coyotes and Washington Capitals.

The trip into Winnipeg begins a two-game road trip for the Sabres, who conducted an optional morning skate at MTS Centre, but they intend to duplicate the composed, structured game that they played against the Jets earlier this month.

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Posted On Friday, 12.27.2013 / 3:35 PM

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

Wild, minus Parise, look to snap skid

WINNIPEG -- Two struggling teams resume their schedule Friday when the Minnesota Wild make a return appearance to MTS Centre to face the Winnipeg Jets.

The Wild have lost three consecutive games and five of their past seven. In facing Winnipeg the Wild will conclude a stretch of seven road dates in their past eight games, a stretch that has seen them win one game away from home. Even with a three-day break to refresh, the Wild's 6-11-3 road record has left the team eager to begin remedying it.

"I think that if you're struggling a bit you just want to get back at it as fast as you can," Wild captain Mikko Koivu said.

Wild coach Mike Yeo again will be without left wing Zach Parise (lower body), who will miss his second consecutive game. Defenseman Clayton Stoner (lower body) also will not dress. Goaltender Josh Harding remains on injured reserve but participated in the team's morning skate Friday. Yeo indicated he was pleased with Harding's showing.

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Posted On Friday, 12.20.2013 / 3:21 PM

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

Jets focused on ending home skid as Panthers visit

WINNIPEG -- The team that played a role in triggering the Winnipeg Jets' latest slump makes a return appearance Friday at MTS Centre.

The Florida Panthers, who beat the Jets 5-2 at BB&T Center on Dec. 5, arrived from Ottawa at 3 a.m. Friday looking to move their winning streak to six games when they play the struggling Jets.

The Panthers’ early-morning arrival meant they did not hold a morning skate at MTS Centre. Florida is on a 7-1-0 run after a 4-2 come-from-behind win against the Ottawa Senators on Thursday. A four-game Canadian road trip ends here before the Panthers return home for a five-game homestand. The five-game winning streak is their longest since March 2012.

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Posted On Thursday, 12.12.2013 / 3:06 PM

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

Avalanche look to stay even-keeled, end slump

WINNIPEG -- The Colorado Avalanche arrived in Winnipeg on Wednesday lugging what passes for a slump in their turnaround season as they prepare to meet the Winnipeg Jets on Thursday.

Fresh off a 3-1 home loss against the Phoenix Coyotes on Tuesday, the Avalanche own a two-game winless streak and have lost three of their past four games, scoring seven goals in that period.

Scoring has been an issue for the Avalanche lately. Captain and leading scorer Gabriel Landeskoghas two goals and four assists in his past nine games. Center Matt Duchene, the team’s second-leading scorer with 21 points, has one assist in his seven games since returning from an oblique injury that caused him to miss three games.

"We've been struggling offensively," Duchene said after the morning skate. "We've got a lot of guys not scoring now. Every team goes through that at some point in the season."

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Posted On Tuesday, 12.10.2013 / 3:16 PM

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

Blues looking for better starts

WINNIPEG -- While the Winnipeg Jets' three-game homestand needs a good start Tuesday, it will be the visiting St. Louis Blues looking to reverse a trend of poor first-period showings.

The Blues visit Winnipeg fresh off a 5-2 loss Saturday to the Anaheim Ducks in which they allowed three goals in the opening seven minutes. In a stretch of three losses in the past four games, opponents have outscored the Blues in the first period 9-1.

Blues coach Ken Hitchcock put his team through practice Monday before departing for Winnipeg and saw a similar pattern play out.

"[Monday] was a slow start and a great finish," Hitchcock said with a chuckle after the team's morning skate Tuesday. "Kind of like our games. I think for us we just have to play the right way earlier and not dig ourselves a hole. I think every team goes through these lulls. Ours seem to be in the first period.

"But I think we won't have a choice with Winnipeg having a first game back after such a long break and the fans the way they are here. They're going to be engaged at the start, so I don't think we have any choice but to get engaged here."


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Posted On Thursday, 11.21.2013 / 2:53 PM

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

Hossa returning to Blackhawks' lineup

WINNIPEG -- A pair of Central Division teams looking to find their games will meet Thursday when the Winnipeg Jets host the Chicago Blackhawks.

A rare slump accompanies the Blackhawks, who have lost two of their past three games, into MTS Centre. Opponents have outscored the Blackhawks 12-3 in those two losses, and Chicago is on a season-high seven-game road trip that began with a 5-1 loss Tuesday against the Colorado Avalanche.

"[We are forgetting] about it," Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews said of the Blackhawks' recent struggles. "We're looking at the [past] two road games. We weren't so hot obviously. We've given up quite a few goals.

"But I think the [cause of those problems] is pretty clear. We've just got to be a little smart defensively, a little bit more committed to what we have to do in our own zone. We'll be looking to bounce back. We want to start this road trip the right way so we need to make up for what we didn't accomplish in the [past game]."

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Posted On Monday, 11.18.2013 / 4:04 PM

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

Flames in Winnipeg 'desperate' for a win

WINNIPEG -- Two teams that need some good fortune will meet Monday when the Calgary Flames make their first-ever visit to MTS Centre to play the Winnipeg Jets.

The Flames are fresh off a 4-2 home loss this past Saturday against the Edmonton Oilers in which they lost a 2-0 second-intermission lead against their provincial rival. Flames coach Bob Hartley, who coached the Winnipeg franchise for parts of five seasons when it was based in Atlanta, criticized his team after the loss, but sounded a different tone after the team's morning skate at MTS Centre.

"It's the beauty and the challenge of this game at the same time," Hartley said. "You can't sit on a loss or a win too long. You have to bounce back. Obviously we know what we did right and did wrong on Saturday, and we move on."


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Posted On Friday, 11.15.2013 / 4:04 PM

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

Flyers, Jets hope to keep solid play going

WINNIPEG -- The Philadelphia Flyers and Winnipeg Jets will see similar opponents when they meet Friday at MTS Centre.

Both teams have used three-game winning streaks to revive seasons that had been in danger of unraveling after slow starts. The Flyers won 2-1 against the Pittsburgh Penguins on Wednesday and will wrap their three-game road trip against a Winnipeg Jets team that beat the Detroit Red Wings 3-2 in a shootout on Tuesday.

"We have to be ready to go," Jets coach Claude Noel said. "Philly has got the same mojo that we have so they're going to be wanting to go as well."

Philadelphia has used a 6-3-1 run to move back into the Eastern Conference pack after a 1-7-0 start.

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Posted On Sunday, 11.10.2013 / 3:12 PM

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

Sharks look to get untracked against Jets

WINNIPEG – The Winnipeg Jets have had their share of challenges this season, and the San Jose Sharks will present another test when the teams meet Sunday.

The Sharks (10-2-4) arrived in Winnipeg on Saturday to begin preparing for a five game-road trip. San Jose is winless in its past four games and lost a 4-2 home decision to the Vancouver Canucks this past Thursday. Coach Todd McLellan was not happy with his team’s work ethic against the Canucks, and he has made bringing that work ethic back to its previous standard a point of emphasis leading into the game against Winnipeg.

Sharks center Joe Thornton pointed to a need to put together a better start against the Jets, something that the Sharks have struggled to do recently, but said San Jose’s problems are not alarming to the Sharks’ dressing room.

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Posted On Friday, 11.08.2013 / 3:29 PM

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

Predators' Hutton goes for third win against Jets

WINNIPEG -- The Nashville Predators' seven-game road trip continues Friday against an opponent they have controlled so far this season without needing to call on goaltender Pekka Rinne.

The Predators (8-5-2) have taken each of their meetings with the Winnipeg Jets in front of goaltender Carter Hutton. Nashville coach Barry Trotz gave Rinne a night off when the teams met in Winnipeg on Oct. 20, and Hutton responded with 38 saves in a 3-1 win. Four nights later in Nashville, Hutton started again after a hip infection sidelined Rinne and delivered a 34-save performance in helping Nashville take a 3-2 overtime decision.

Hutton will start again for Nashville against the Jets (6-9-2) on Friday. The Predators arrived in Winnipeg fresh off a 6-4 road win against the Colorado Avalanche on Wednesday, as they continue a coast-to-coast, franchise-record-tying seven-game road trip that will see them face the New Jersey Devils on Sunday.

"It's been a little different," Hutton said of his time as Nashville's No. 1 goaltender. "Obviously Pekka going down is a huge loss to us. He's a world-class goalie and a great guy, so it's tough. You don't expect that. You don't wish that on any [player]. But opportunities come your way … and so far it has been a fun ride."

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Posted On Monday, 11.04.2013 / 2:06 PM

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

Red Wings look for sweep of road trip

WINNIPEG -- The Detroit Red Wings have an opportunity to sweep their tour of Western Canada when they meet the Winnipeg Jets at MTS Centre on Monday.

The Red Wings (9-4-2) have the first three games on the journey, including a 5-0 win Saturday against the Edmonton Oilers. A win against the Jets would boost them ahead of the idle Toronto Maple Leafs and Tampa Bay Lightning for the top spot in the Atlantic Division.

Detroit recalled defenseman Adam Almquist from the Grand Rapids Griffins of the American Hockey League on Sunday to replace injured defenseman Brendan Smith (shoulder). Smith injured himself in a third-period fight with Edmonton’s Will Acton.

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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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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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Posted On Friday, 03.22.2013 / 1:20 PM

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

Holtby, Pavelec back in net for Capitals-Jets rematch

WINNIPEG – The Washington Capitals’ season is still on the line Friday evening when they face the Winnipeg Jets for the second consecutive night at MTS Centre.

But the Capitals (13-16-1) bought themselves some breathing room after shutting out the Jets 4-0 Thursday night to move themselves five points out of an Eastern Conference playoff spot.

Winnipeg (16-13-2) did not hold a morning skate at MTS Centre, and the Capitals’ optional skate had five players.

Capitals coach Adam Oates will return to Braden Holtby in net one night after he shut out the Jets for the second time this month in Winnipeg. Oates said he will dress the same lineup that featured the return of defenseman Mike Green from a 10-game injury absence. The Capitals also reportedly placed right wing Joey Crabb on waivers to alleviate a roster glut.

The Jets will again turn to goaltender Ondrej Pavelec, who will start his 10th consecutive game. Winnipeg’s blue line was dealt another injury blow Thursday when a heavy third-period hit from Alex Ovechkin ended Mark Stuart’s evening. Jets coach Claude Noel described Stuart as “banged up” and termed him a game-time decision. Noel also said he may tinker with his lineup.

Here are the projected lineups for the Capitals and Jets for the game Friday:

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Posted On Thursday, 03.21.2013 / 2:16 PM

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

Green a game-time decision for Capitals

WINNIPEG -- The Washington Capitals’ season may be on the line Thursday when they meet the Winnipeg Jets for the first of a pair of games at MTS Centre.

The Capitals (12-16-1) sit seven points out of an Eastern Conference playoff spot and face a pair of nearly must-win games if they are to remain in contention. But a Washington blue line missing four regulars could regain Mike Green's services against Winnipeg. Green, who has missed 10 consecutive games with a groin injury, participated in the Capitals' morning skate, but Washington coach Adam Oates labeled him a "game-time decision."

Braden Holtby will make his third consecutive start in goal for the Capitals after a 36-save performance Tuesday against the Pittsburgh Penguins, a 2-1 loss that Oates termed "probably the best game all year."

Jets coach Claude Noel will start Ondrej Pavelec in goal for the eighth straight game.

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Posted On Tuesday, 03.19.2013 / 2:40 PM

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

Jets continue playoff push against Bruins

WINNIPEG -- The Winnipeg Jets will look to continue their push toward the Stanley Cup Playoffs when they meet the Boston Bruins on Tuesday at MTS Centre.

Both teams will return to action after shuffling their rosters Monday. The Bruins rolled into Winnipeg for a meeting with the Jets after sustaining a rare blemish to their 9-3-2 road record Sunday against the Pittsburgh Penguins.

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Posted On Thursday, 03.14.2013 / 2:09 PM

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

Hamrlik back in on Rangers' blue line

WINNIPEG -- The New York Rangers (13-10-2) held a lively practice Wednesday after the team's arrival here in preparation for a date Thursday with the Winnipeg Jets at MTS Centre.

Eighth-place in the Eastern Conference is at stake for the clubs, who each have 28 points.

Roman Hamrlik likely will return to the Rangers' defensive rotation after a two-game absence, replacing Matt Gilroy. Defenseman Marc Staal remains injured and will miss his fifth consecutive game, leaving the Rangers to look for help to ease some of the burden on their blue line's top four.

"It's crucial that someone steps up in the five-six spot," coach John Tortorella said. "When you lose a guy like Marc Staal, and we have guys playing minutes that they're not used to playing, we'd really like to get a rotation of six [defensemen] playing. But we also have to try to win each game, so that's where we're making the call on the bench. We have a few guys looking to take that spot."

Forward Arron Asham participated in practice Wednesday, but is not expected to return to the Rangers' lineup against the Jets.

Henrik Lundqvist will start in goal for the eighth time in the team's past nine contests.

Here is the Rangers' possible lineup:

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Posted On Thursday, 03.14.2013 / 1:36 PM

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

Jets look to overtake Rangers for eighth in East

WINNIPEG -- The Winnipeg Jets look to overtake the New York Rangers for eighth place in the Eastern Conference when the clubs meet Thursday at MTS Centre.

The Jets (13-11-2) will face the Rangers with a pair of tweaks to their lineup after a 5-2 home win Tuesday against the Toronto Maple Leafs. Winnipeg recalled center Patrice Cormier from the St. John’s IceCaps of the American Hockey League on Wednesday to replace Jim Slater on the fourth line. Slater departed the game Tuesday with an apparent hand injury.

It also appears that center Alexander Burmistrov will be a healthy scratch for the second game in a row. Noel termed Burmistrov a game-time decision, but Burmistrov remained on the ice after the club's morning skate.

Winnipeg also recalled goaltender Edward Pasquale early Thursday to replace backup goaltender Al Montoya, who Noel said has aggravated a lower-body injury. Pasquale will dress in Montoya's place against the Rangers.

Here is what the Jets' lineup could look like Thursday:

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Posted On Tuesday, 03.12.2013 / 3:31 PM

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

Burmistrov game-time decision for Jets

WINNIPEG -- The Winnipeg Jets' 12-11-2 record belies coach Claude Noel's mood these days.

The Jets collected five of a possible eight points during their just-concluded four-game road trip, but Noel arrived home less than pleased with his team's recent play. Winnipeg enters games Tuesday ninth in the Eastern Conference, two points behind the eighth-place New York Rangers, and the Jets have missed the Stanley Cup Playoffs five consecutive years. Talk of a desire to build accountability and establish a winning culture have surrounded the club nearly since its arrival in Winnipeg in May 2011.

"If you win by accident, that's going to run out," Noel said. "You're going to run into problems. That's where the fear comes in for me. We'll take [the wins], but let's be real -- the one thing that I like to do is to be honest with our team, make sure that we look in the mirror at how we play. For me, it's all in how you play and if you do the right things."

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Posted On Tuesday, 03.12.2013 / 2:34 PM

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

Maple Leafs attempt to improve on road mark

WINNIPEG -- The Toronto Maple Leafs return to the friendly environment of the road Tuesday night when they meet the Winnipeg Jets at MTS Centre.

Toronto (15-10-1) has posted a 9-5-0 mark away from Air Canada Centre, where coach Randy Carlyle's club is fresh off a 5-4 shootout loss Saturday evening to the Pittsburgh Penguins. Toronto has collected points in four of its past five games. After facing the Jets, the Maple Leafs meet Pittsburgh again Thursday to begin a three-game homestand.

It was thought that Mikhail Grabovski, Nikolai Kulemin and Matt Frattin, who returned against Pittsburgh after a knee injury sidelined him for 12 games, might form a new second line for Toronto. Carlyle shrugged aside the notion, however.


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Posted On Tuesday, 03.12.2013 / 2:14 PM

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

Jets looking to turn things around at MTS Centre

WINNIPEG -- The Winnipeg Jets at long last can unpack and settle back in at home for a game Tuesday evening against the Toronto Maple Leafs at MTS Centre after spending nearly three weeks on the road.

The Jets (12-11-2) survived a stretch of nine of 11 games away from home, going 6-2-1 and holding themselves firmly in contention in the Eastern Conference.

However, coach Claude Noel panned his club's effort in a 3-2 shootout loss to the New Jersey Devils that ended the Jets' four-game road trip Sunday. Noel benched Alexander Burmistrov for most of the second half of the loss, with the third-year center logging a season-low 9:22 of ice time against the Devils. Burmistrov remained on the ice long after the Jets' morning skate concluded, and Noel termed his status a "game-time decision." Chris Thorburn will likely replace Burmistrov.

The Jets will be back on home ice, where they have struggled this year and own four wins in their first 10 home games.

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Posted On Thursday, 02.28.2013 / 2:28 PM

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

Devils hope to stop rare losing streak

WINNIPEG -- The New Jersey Devils begin a three-game road trip against the Winnipeg Jets on Thursday hoping to stop a rare multigame losing streak.

Losses to the Jets on Feb. 24 and to the Washington Capitals the day before marked the first consecutive regulation losses for the Devils (10-5-4) since March 17-19, 2012.

New Jersey will start goaltender Johan Hedberg for the third consecutive game after placing Martin Brodeur on injured reserve this week.
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Posted On Thursday, 02.28.2013 / 2:04 PM

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

Successful trip complete, Jets focus on home record

WINNIPEG -- The Winnipeg Jets left town Feb. 18 a team fighting to save its season. Now the Jets are back with a new outlook on their Stanley Cup Playoff hopes after an eventful 4-0-1 road trip.

The Jets (9-9-1) make a two-game pit stop at MTS Centre that starts Thursday night when the New Jersey Devils make their lone visit to Winnipeg. After a Southeast Division contest with the Washington Capitals at home Saturday afternoon, the Jets will again hit the road for another week-long trip.

Winnipeg has rectified some of the road issues that derailed the club last season, but now home ice is a concern. The Jets have dropped four consecutive games at MTS Centre and are 3-5-0 at home this season. The clubs split two MTS Centre dates last season, and the Jets scored a 4-2 decision when the teams met Feb. 24 at New Jersey.

"It's really good when you go around the city and people congratulate you on the road trip, which is good," Jets coach Claude Noel said of life in a city that was rather displeased with its club earlier this month. "I think that our players will be ready."

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Posted On Friday, 02.15.2013 / 2:32 PM

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

Cooke dealing with Karlsson injury criticism

WINNIPEG, Manitoba -- Pittsburgh Penguins left wing Matt Cooke has taken a heavy barrage of criticism for his involvement in the injury sustained by Ottawa Senators defenseman Erik Karlsson on Wednesday.

Cooke's left skate sliced Karlsson's left Achilles tendon during a puck battle along the boards, ending the reigning Norris Trophy winner's season. Karlsson underwent surgery Thursday and faces a lengthy rehabilitation period. Senators owner Eugene Melnyk and general manager Bryan Murray have expressed their displeasure with Cooke, whose disciplinary history makes leaves him vulnerable to such rebukes.

No penalty was called on the play, and the NHL Department of Player Safety saw no need to assess supplemental discipline.

Cooke expressed his regret about the incident Friday after the Penguins conducted their morning skate at MTS Centre. Cooke said he had reached out to Karlsson via a text message.

"Whether or not he responds to me, I understand," Cooke said. "At the end of the day, it was a freak, unfortunate accident and I can't control anything else but that. I obviously felt bad about the cut and just hope that he has a fast recovery. I know it's not fast, but as fast as possible."

Cooke also adopted a non-confrontational tone in regard to Melnyk's criticism and chose not to offer his feelings on the comments that have been directed toward him since the game Wednesday.

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Posted On Friday, 02.15.2013 / 1:44 PM

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

Penguins hope to continue road success in Winnipeg

WINNIPEG, Manitoba – The Pittsburgh Penguins return to life on the road, a place of comfort for them this season, when they meet the Winnipeg Jets at MTS Centre on Friday.

The Penguins are 6-2-0 on the road this season, and land in Winnipeg 7-3-0 in their past 10 games. The Pittsburgh power play has scored in each of the club's past six games and is clicking at a 37.5-percent rate in that span (9-for-24).

Penguins coach Dan Bylsma attributes his team’s road success to a hard-nosed approach away from home.

"We've been able to do that on the road with more effect than maybe at home," Bylsma said. "We've been able stay away from the perception of our team, which is high-skill and making great plays, to playing a hard game, playing in the offensive zone, being a smothering team. We've been able to do that in some tough places, and that's maybe been [the reason for] our success on the road."

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Posted On Friday, 02.15.2013 / 1:02 PM

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

Tangradi debuts, Bogosian makes debut for Jets

WINNIPEG, Manitoba -- Newly acquired Eric Tangradi will be making his Winnipeg Jets debut Friday night against the Pittsburgh Penguins at MTS Centre, but he will not be the only player in the lineup needing to make a fresh impression on Jets coach Claude Noel.

Noel blistered his team Thursday, telling the local media he did not like the way it played nor the players' effort. Noel's comments followed a busy Wednesday in which the Jets shipped out veteran forward Alexei Ponikarovsky to the New Jersey Devils hours after landing Tangradi. Winnipeg dropped a 3-2 decision to the Philadelphia Flyers on Tuesday night.

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Posted On Tuesday, 02.12.2013 / 1:52 PM

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

Byfuglien returning for Jets vs. Flyers

WINNIPEG, Manitoba -- The Winnipeg Jets and Philadelphia Flyers have one thing in common heading into their game Tuesday at MTS Centre -- both are coming off recent losses to the Toronto Maple Leafs.

The Jets lost 3-2 at home to Toronto on Feb. 7, but they were able to rebound with a 1-0 road win two nights later against the Ottawa Senators. They've been off since then, while the Flyers lost 5-2 in Toronto on Monday.

The Jets will welcome defenseman Dustin Byfuglien back to the lineup against the Flyers after a five-game absence with an undisclosed injury. Byfuglien will reunite with defense partner Tobias Enstrom, whose two goals and 11 assists tie him for the NHL lead in scoring among defensemen. Winnipeg also anticipates the imminent return of Zach Bogosian to its blue line. Bogosian has not played this season after offseason wrist surgery.

Jets coach Claude Noel would not confirm his defensive mix, but it is expected Grant Clitsome will be a healthy scratch to make room for Byfuglien.

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Posted On Thursday, 02.07.2013 / 2:44 PM

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

Maple Leafs have been road terrors this season

WINNIPEG, Manitoba -- The road has been a safe port for the Toronto Maple Leafs early in the season.

The Maple Leafs (5-5-0) have used a 4-1-0 start on the road to offset a 1-4-0 at Air Canada Centre. They continue a three-game trip at MTS Centre against the Winnipeg Jets. Toronto is fresh off a 3-2 road win against the Washington Capitals and will finish its journey with a stop at Bell Centre in Montreal on Saturday evening.

"Obviously, you've got to focus on the start," Maple Leafs coach Randy Carlyle said of facing a Jets club that has established a solid presence on Winnipeg ice. "Usually when you have success on the road, your first period is an indicator of where your game is at. You always want to establish a good start.

"We're just asking for the contribution to be more than ordinary from everybody. Ordinary is not good enough for us. We have to be better than ordinary."

However, the Toronto lineup remains rather battered. Mike Brown, Carl Gunnarsson and Joffrey Lupul are injured, though Carlyle said Brown’s return could be close. Gunnarsson remained in Toronto, where he is rehabilitating a hip injury.

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Posted On Thursday, 02.07.2013 / 2:10 PM

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

Jets look to put together back-to-back victories

WINNIPEG, Manitoba -- A 3-2 overtime win Tuesday night for the Winnipeg Jets eased the flow of breakdowns that plagued them on a three-game road trip last week.

Now the Jets (4-4-1) have a Thursday night date with the Toronto Maple Leafs at MTS Centre to try to mitigate further some of the damage from the 0-3-0 sojourn. With a road visit to the Ottawa Senators on Saturday followed by home meetings with the Philadelphia Flyers, Pittsburgh Penguins and Boston Bruins, the Jets need to start collecting points.

The Jets will not be receiving any injury relief against Toronto, however. Zach Bogosian nudged closer to an eventual return from offseason wrist surgery and participated in his first morning skate of the season with the Jets. However, Jets coach Claude Noel said afterward that Bogosian remains "a ways away" from making his season debut. Dustin Byfuglien also participated in the Jets' morning skate, but he will miss his fourth consecutive game with an undisclosed injury.

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Posted On Tuesday, 02.05.2013 / 2:19 PM

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

Panthers hope to keep rolling in Winnipeg

WINNIPEG, Manitoba – The Winnipeg Jets proved to be a good tonic for the Florida Panthers last week, and the Panthers hope that an encore engagement Tuesday night at MTS Centre will provide a similar result.

Florida thumped Winnipeg last Thursday at BB&T Center, using a five-goal third period to take a 6-3 decision. The Panthers followed that effort with a 4-3 road win at Buffalo that began a four-game road trip. The back-to-back two-point efforts have taken some of the sting out of a season-opening 1-5-0 start.

Panthers coach Kevin Dineen likes the steps that his team has taken.

"I think we're playing with little more group-of-five than the individual play that we saw earlier," Dineen said. "We were out of sync. There was not a whole of flow going on. I think there's better chemistry as a team and how we have to play."

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Posted On Tuesday, 02.05.2013 / 1:50 PM

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

Jets limp home to face Panthers, with PK a focus

WINNIPEG, Manitoba -- Normally a midwinter trip that includes a stop in Florida is a welcome time for the Winnipeg Jets, but last week's three-game road trip left them limping home.

The Jets (3-4-1) dropped all three games, including a defeat last Thursday to the Florida Panthers, who visit MTS Centre for a Tuesday evening date. The penalty kill, a source of many of Winnipeg's defensive problems last season, has again become a major issue for coach Claude Noel and his club. Winnipeg has surrendered goals on eight of its past 16 shorthanded situations, and the Jets rank last in the League on the penalty kill.

Noel said defenseman Dustin Byfuglien will miss his third consecutive game with an undisclosed injury, but that a return for Thursday's game versus the Toronto Maple Leafs is a possibility. Winnipeg is also without Zach Bogosian, whose return remains slated for mid-February. Alexander Burmistrov centers Winnipeg's second line.

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Posted On Sunday, 01.27.2013 / 2:49 PM

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

Islanders' Hickey set for NHL debut against Jets

WINNIPEG – The New York Islanders’ long road trip moves its way to Winnipeg for a Sunday evening date at MTS Centre.

The Islanders (2-2-0) landed in Winnipeg after a 4-2 road loss Friday to the Boston Bruins in which they allowed three unanswered Boston goals to erase a lead built on two goals from Keith Aucoin. The loss Friday ended a two-game win streak for the Islanders, who are on the third contest of their five-game road trip.

Rick DiPietro made his first start since December 2011 in the loss to Boston. However, Islanders coach Jack Capuano will return veteran Evgeni Nabokov to handle the Islanders’ goaltending chores against Winnipeg.

Capuano said after the Islanders’ lengthy morning skate that he is pleased with his team’s work ethic, but he still needs to see more contributions across his roster.

To that end, Capuano will make two line-up changes. Thomas Hickey, the fourth overall pick of the 2007 NHL Draft, will make his NHL debut . The Islanders picked up the 23-year-old via waivers from the Los Angeles Kings on Jan. 15. Hickey will replace Joe Finley. Eric Boulton will take the place of Casey Cizikas on the Islanders’ fourth line. Veteran Radek Martinek is the lone healthy Islander to play this season.

Here are the possible lineups for the Islanders:

Matt Moulson - John Tavares - Kyle Okposo

Michael Grabner - Frans Nielsen - Brad Boyes

David Ullstrom - Keith Aucoin - Colin McDonald

Matt Martin - Marty Reasoner - Eric Boulton

Mark Streit - Brian Strait

Andrew MacDonald - Travis Hamonic

Thomas Hickey - Matt Carkner

Evgeni Nabokov

Rick DiPietro

Injured: Josh Bailey, Jesse Joensuu

Scratched: Casey Cizikas, Joe Finley, Radek Martinek

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Posted On Sunday, 01.27.2013 / 2:35 PM

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

Montoya making his Jets' debut against former club

WINNIPEG – The Winnipeg Jets (2-1-1) look to build on their best start since the 2009-10 season when they greet the New York Islanders on Sunday night at MTS Centre.

Winnipeg is fresh off a come-from-behind 4-2 win against the Pittsburgh Penguins on Friday night in which they rattled off four unanswered goals against veteran goaltender Tomas Vokoun. But they will be up against an Islanders club that took both meetings at MTS Centre -- and three of the teams’ four meetings -- last season.

Despite the win against Pittsburgh, Jets coach Claude Noel is taking a cautious approach to facing the Islanders.

“We’re aware of what they are,” Noel said of meeting the Islanders. “They’re playing pretty well. They’re not a team that we want to take lightly, that’s for sure.”

Noel elected to have offseason addition Al Montoya make his debut in net for Winnipeg against his former Islanders teammates.

“I just want to try to get Al playing,” Noel said. “He needs to be part of our group. Pavelec has played all of the games, and there have been some emotional games. It’s good that [Montoya] play here in our building and get a feel for that stuff.”

Noel will return with the rest of the lineup Friday against the Islanders, meaning that prospect Mark Scheifele will miss his second consecutive game after dressing for the Jets’ first three contests.

Here is the projected lineup for the Jets:

Evander KaneOlli JokinenBlake Wheeler

Andrew LaddNikolai AntropovBryan Little

Alexei Ponikarovsky – Alex Burmistrov – Kyle Wellwood

James WrightJim SlaterChris Thorburn

Tobias EnstromDustin Byfuglien

Mark StuartRon Hainsey

Grant ClitsomePaul Postma

Al Montoya

Ondrej Pavelec

Injured: Zach Bogosian, Antti Miettinen

Scratched: Anthony Peluso, Mark Scheifele

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Posted On Friday, 01.25.2013 / 2:26 PM

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

Penguins look to rebound from first loss of season

WINNIPEG, Manitoba -- The Pittsburgh Penguins arrived here Thursday evening looking to move past a 5-2 loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs in their home opener Wednesday.

The defeat took some of the shine off a season-opening built on consecutive road wins against the Philadelphia Flyers and New York Rangers last weekend. Pittsburgh's run of four road games in its first five contests continues Sunday at the Ottawa Senators. The Penguins face a Winnipeg Jets team they tormented last season. Center Evgeni Malkin posted three goals and eight assists in his three games against the Jets.

Coach Dan Bylsma will make two changes to the lineup that faced Toronto. Offseason acquisition Tomas Vokoun will make his second start in net for Pittsburgh. Ben Lovejoy will dress for the first time this season and take the place of Simon Despres on the Penguins' third defensive pairing with Deryk Engelland.

Right wing Tanner Glass, will make his return to Winnipeg, where he was a fan favorite last season with the Jets before signing in the summer with the Penguins.

Here are the possible line combinations for the Penguins:

Chris Kunitz - Sidney Crosby - Pascal Dupuis

Tyler Kennedy - Evgeni Malkin - James Neal

Matt Cooke - Brandon Sutter - Tanner Glass

Eric Tangradi - Joe Vitale - Craig Adams

Brooks Orpik - Paul Martin

Matt Niskanen - Kris Letang

Deryk Engelland - Ben Lovejoy

Tomas Vokoun

Marc-Andre Fleury

Scratched: Robert Bortuzzo, Simon Despres, Dustin Jeffrey

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Posted On Friday, 01.25.2013 / 2:19 PM

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

Wellwood in, Scheifele out of lineup for Jets

WINNIPEG -- The Winnipeg Jets returned home from a brief two-game road swing to Boston and Washington in a much better mood than when they departed last Saturday.

A 2-1 shootout loss to the Bruins and a 4-2 win against the Capitals took some of the sting out of a season-opening 4-1 loss to the Ottawa Senators that opened the Jets’ home schedule last weekend. The Jets’ 1-1-1 start represents the franchise's best beginning to a season since 2009-10, when it was the Atlanta Thrashers.

However, the Pittsburgh Penguins arrived in town Thursday, presenting a potential road block to a Winnipeg club looking to earn its first home win and establish itself as a legitimate contender for a Stanley Cup Playoff spot.

Coach Claude Noel repeatedly emphasized the need for his club to avoid any temptation to trade goals with the Penguins, a trap the Jets often fell into last season against Pittsburgh and other high-scoring opponents. Pittsburgh tormented the Jets last season, taking three of the four meetings between the clubs, including an 8-4 loss at Consol Energy Center that dealt a devastating blow to Winnipeg's postseason ambitions last March.

Noel continues to tinker with his lineup and will re-insert veteran Kyle Wellwood, a healthy scratch against the Capitals, on the right wing on the third line in place of rookie Mark Scheifele.

Ondrej Pavelec will make his fourth start of the season in goal for Winnipeg.

Here is how the lineup likely will look Friday:

Evander Kane - Olli Jokinen - Blake Wheeler

Andrew Ladd - Nik Antropov - Bryan Little

Alexei Ponikarovsky - Alexander Burmistrov - Kyle Wellwood

James Wright - Jim Slater - Chris Thorburn

Tobias Enstrom - Dustin Byfuglien

Mark Stuart - Ron Hainsey

Grant Clitsome - Paul Postma

Ondrej Pavelec

Al Montoya

Injured: Zach Bogosian, Antti Miettinen

Scratched: Anthony Peluso, Mark Scheifele

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Posted On Saturday, 01.19.2013 / 8:27 PM

By Patrick Williams -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2012-13 Opening Day blog

Schiefele quickly adjusts to NHL game

WINNIPEG – Winnipeg Jets forward Mark Scheifele's 2012-13 hockey itinerary included another stop Saturday afternoon against the Ottawa Senators.

Before arriving in Winnipeg, Scheifele had posted 22 goals in 30 games with the Ontario Hockey League's Barrie Colts and skated for Team Canada at the World Junior Championship in Ufa, Russia. Scheifele logged on game with Barrie earlier this month before the Jets summoned their 2011 first-round selection to training camp.

Scheifele played seven games with the Jets last season before they returned him to Barrie, but he started against Ottawa playing the right side on Winnipeg's fourth line.

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Posted On Saturday, 01.19.2013 / 8:22 PM

By Patrick Williams -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2012-13 Opening Day blog

Methot-Karlsson pair solid for Senators

WINNIPEG – The Ottawa Senators' acquisition of Marc Methot last summer may not have drawn an abundance of headlines, but it helped reshape the club's blue line.

Methot, a 27-year-old Ottawa native, joined the Senators last July in a trade with the Columbus Blue Jackets for forward Nick Foligno. The Senators used Methot to replace the departed Filip Kuba and use his 6-foot-3, 231-pound frame to firm up a pairing with Erik Karlsson, the NHL's reigning Norris Trophy winner.

Methot spent parts of six seasons and logged 275 games with Columbus in that span. But his 2011-12 season ended with a broken jaw with 28 games remaining in a disastrous season for the Blue Jackets.

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Posted On Monday, 04.09.2012 / 2:56 PM

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

Jets envision Winnipeg as player destination

WINNIPEG -- Winnipeg Jets coach Claude Noel believes working in the NHL's smallest market will prove to be no hindrance in attracting top-flight talent.

"I think that we've got a good thing going here," Noel said during his season-ending press conference. "For one second, I will not take a backseat to anyone else. This is a great place to play. It's going to be a destination."

Captain Andrew Ladd signed a five-year contract shortly after the club relocated to Winnipeg. The Jets dominate the city's newspapers, radio and television, and Jets apparel is easy to spot across the city of 750,000. The club sold out all 41 home games, a long season-ticket waiting list is in place, and Jets players have been very vocal about the reception and treatment that they have received from the fans and the organization.

Winnipeg's reputation has spread across the NHL as opponents have made their first visits to the city and the cozy 15,004-seat MTS Centre, the League's smallest rink. Players find various locales attractive for an assortment of reasons, but the Winnipeg dressing room believes that the city's all-hockey mentality could prove to be a valuable recruiting tool.

"Guys talk," Ladd said. "We have friends all over the League. Just talking to guys who have played in the building this year, they're impressed with the excitement and electricity in the building. It's fun to be a part of on a consistent basis and know that when you're playing home games that every time you step out onto the ice that is the reaction you're going to get."

Noel compared Winnipeg to football-mad Green Bay, Wisc., a city he visited during his time as coach of the Milwaukee Admirals of the American Hockey League.

"Green Bay wins," Noel said. "What is in Green Bay? I've been to Green Bay, and it's a nice town. For me, Winnipeg is going to be a good place to play. I think players like it. The response that we get from our players is that they love playing here."

Noel also revealed that Hockey Canada has not contacted him about a role at the upcoming 2012 IIHF World Hockey Championship that begins in May. Noel will spend the next few weeks reviewing the season, but he will have something else on his mind.

"I have fly-fishing trout on the brain," Noel said. "It keeps going through my brain. I see the trout just calling my name. I see rivers, and I pull over."
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Posted On Monday, 04.09.2012 / 2:49 PM

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

Ladd, Kane to play for Team Canada at Worlds

WINNIPEG -- The Winnipeg Jets will begin to scatter across the globe this week, but more than a handful of players might reconvene when the IIHF 2012 World Championship begins next month in Finland and Sweden.

Jets captain Andrew Ladd indicated that he will play for Canada after participating last spring at the event in Slovakia. Canada finished fifth in the 2011 tournament. Ladd will join Evander Kane, who led the Jets with 30 goals this season, as returnees from last season’s Canadian team.

“I had a great experience last year with it,” Ladd said. “Hockey Canada treats you very well, and it's fun to be a part of.”

Goaltender Ondrej Pavelec led the Czech Republic to a bronze medal last year, but his status for this year remains to be determined.

Defenseman Zach Bogosian will not play for the United States, as he battled late-season injuries. Dustin Byfuglien still is considering playing for the U.S. team, but Blake Wheeler seems unlikely to participate.

Other Jets who may be possibilities for the tournament are Nik Antropov (Kazakhstan), Alexander Burmistrov (Russia), Tobias Enstrom (Sweden), and Antti Miettinen (Finland).
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Posted On Saturday, 04.07.2012 / 1:43 PM

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

Stamkos shoots for 60 in Winnipeg

WINNIPEG – Neither the Tampa Bay Lightning nor the Winnipeg Jets will be bidding for an invitation to the Stanley Cup Playoffs when they meet tonight at MTS Centre.
 
But both clubs have built-in incentives tonight when they play their respective season finales. The Lightning’s Steven Stamkos is one goal away from the 60-goal mark, while the Jets will be skating before a sold-out Winnipeg crowd for the final time this season.
 
Helping Stamkos to become the first NHL player to reach 60 goals since Alexander Ovechkin did so in the 2007-08 season has been something of a mission this week for his teammates. Still, for a club that reached Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Final last May, playing out the schedule has required a mental adjustment from the Tampa Bay dressing room.
 
“In terms of motivation, it's certainly not ideal for either team,” Lightning coach Guy Boucher admitted after Tampa Bay’s morning skate.
 
Down the hallway at MTS Centre, Jets coach Claude Noel echoed similar thoughts as his clubs prepares to play in front of the 41st home sellout this season.
 
“I just want us to play well and play hard for the fans and play for the right reasons for each other.”
 
Dwayne Roloson will start for the Lightning against Winnipeg’s Ondrej Pavelec. Here are the projected lines and pairings for the Lightning and Jets:
 
LIGHTNING
 
Martin St. LouisSteven StamkosRyan Malone
J.T. BrownVincent LecavalierTeddy Purcell
Nate ThompsonTom PyattJT Wyman
Brett ConnollyAdam HallBrian Lee
 
Eric BrewerVictor Hedman
Brett ClarkBruno Gervais
Keith AulieBrendan Mikkelson
 
Dwayne Roloson
Sebastien Caron
 
JETS
 
Andrew LaddBryan LittleBlake Wheeler
Evander KaneAlexander BurmistrovAntti Miettinen
Spencer MachacekJim SlaterChris Thorburn
Patrice CormierNik AntropovTim Stapleton
 
Tobias EnstromDustin Byfuglien
Mark StuartZach Bogosian
Mark FloodGrant Clitsome
 
Ondrej Pavelec
Chris Mason


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Posted On Wednesday, 03.28.2012 / 1:20 PM

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

Rangers look to sweep Jets, increase lead in East

WINNIPEG -- The New York Rangers have another opportunity to put further distance between themselves and the Pittsburgh Penguins tonight.

The Rangers (48-21-7) will meet the Winnipeg Jets after taking a 3-2 road decision against the Minnesota Wild. The win and a Pittsburgh home loss to the New York Islanders moved the Rangers three points ahead of the Penguins for the Eastern Conference lead. Both clubs have played 76 games, but the Penguins are idle tonight.

All three of the Rangers' meetings with Winnipeg this season have been wins, and the Rangers have allowed only one goal in the season series.

The Rangers did not hold a morning skate at the MTS Centre. But it is expected that Henrik Lundqvist will start again for the Rangers, with Martin Biron backing up. Lundqvist shut out the Jets when the clubs last met at Madison Square Garden on Jan. 24.

Here are the projected lines and pairings for the Rangers:

Carl Hagelin - Brad Richards - Marian Gaborik
Brandon Dubinsky - Derek Stepan - Ryan Callahan
Artem Anisimov - Brian Boyle - Ruslan Fedotenko
Brandon Prust - John Mitchell - Mike Rupp
 
Ryan McDonagh - Dan Girardi
Marc Staal - Michael Del Zotto
Anton Stralman - Stu Bickel
 
Henrik Lundqvist
Martin Biron
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Posted On Wednesday, 03.28.2012 / 1:18 PM

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

Jets determined to play hard for home crowd

WINNIPEG -- The process of beginning to wind down the season begins tonight for the Winnipeg Jets.

The Jets (35-33-8) will host the New York Rangers at the MTS Centre in their second-to-last home date. A 6-4 loss to the Ottawa Senators two nights ago effectively ended the Jets' already-thin Stanley Cup Playoff aspirations. They face a four-game road trip that will begin against the Carolina Hurricanes and continue against Tampa Bay, Florida, and the New York Islanders.

"It will be a good test for us against the Rangers," Jets coach Claude Noel said of a season series in which the Jets have gone winless and have managed only one goal in the clubs' three meetings. "They don't give you very much. The games are usually very heavy. Their battle level is high."

Facing the Rangers in front of another sold-out crowd in Winnipeg should prevent any letdowns for the Jets now, Noel believes.

"Out of respect for what they have given us, how could we come up with anything less?" Noel asked. "The fans here in Winnipeg have been a big factor for us having success here and have been like an extra player, so how could we disrespect the fans by not giving all that we have got?"
   
Grant Clitsome will replace Randy Jones on the Jets' third defensive pairing and partner with Mark Stuart. Nik Antropov and Chris Thorburn remain sidelined with injuries, but they will make the upcoming road trip. Dustin Byfuglien is battling a nagging bone bruise, but he will dress against the Rangers.

Ondrej Pavelec will make his 13th consecutive start, with Chris Mason backing up.

Here are the projected lines and pairings for the Jets:

Andrew Ladd - Bryan Little - Blake Wheeler
Evander Kane - Alexander Burmistrov - Kyle Wellwood
Tanner Glass - Jim Slater - Antti Miettinen
Tim Stapleton - Ben Maxwell - Spencer Machacek

Tobias Enstrom - Dustin Byfuglien
Ron Hainsey - Zach Bogosian
Mark Stuart - Grant Clitsome

Ondrej Pavelec
Chris Mason
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Posted On Monday, 03.26.2012 / 2:48 PM

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

Win would move Ottawa within two points of sixth

WINNIPEG -- A win tonight against the Winnipeg Jets would provide the Ottawa Senators with some separation from one cluster of clubs and nudge them into a higher echelon.

A win would move the seventh-place Senators (38-28-10) four points ahead of the Washington Capitals and Buffalo Sabres and to within two points of the sixth-place New Jersey Devils. They would also move to within three points of the Northeast Division lead the Boston Bruins hold at the moment.

Going against a desperate Winnipeg club poses a challenge for the Senators, they admit.

"They play hard and are desperate, just like we are," coach Paul MacLean said.

But Ottawa rebounded from a road shellacking against the Montreal Canadiens to take an 8-4 home decision over the Pittsburgh Penguins on Saturday night. Captain Daniel Alfredsson registered a season-high four-point evening and six Senators managed multi-point nights.

"We hope that the big goal output that we had [against Pittsburgh] can give guys some confidence," leading scorer Jason Spezza said. "I think it was a pretty good bounce-back game for us, a good character game for us."

The win cost the Senators the services of goaltender Ben Bishop, who exited the game with a lower-body injury. Bishop's absence means that Craig Anderson, who missed 12 games with a hand injury before returning last week, will start tonight's game. Alex Auld will back up Anderson.

After tonight's game, the Senators do not resume play until Saturday, when they visit Philadelphia, and will have just five games remaining.

"Desperate teams are tough to play against," Nick Foligno said. "They're fighting for their lives, and we have to treat it the same way for us. We're a desperate hockey team as well. It's a tight race for us. It's a push to the playoffs for us, as well."

Here are the projected lines and pairings for the Senators:

Colin Greening - Jason Spezza - Milan Michalek
Zack Smith - Kyle Turris - Daniel Alfredsson
Nick Foligno - Jim O'Brien - Chris Neil
Rob Klinkhammer - Kaspars Daugavins - Erik Condra

Filip Kuba - Erik Karlsson
Jared Cowen - Sergei Gonchar
Chris Phillips - Matt Carkner

Craig Anderson
Alex Auld

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Posted On Monday, 03.26.2012 / 2:44 PM

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

Game against Senators represents last stand for Jets

WINNIPEG -- The end is not yet here for the Winnipeg Jets, but it certainly looms near.

A 1-2-0 road trip last week through Pittsburgh, Washington and Nashville dented the Jets' Stanley Cup Playoff aspirations severely. A loss tonight against the Ottawa Senators at the MTS Centre would spell near-certain doom for the Jets (35-32-8), who have seven games left in the regular season entering tonight's game. Sitting in 10th place in the Eastern Conference, the Jets trail the eighth-place Washington Capitals by six points.

"For us, you can say all the clichés, but we have to win the game," Jets coach Claude Noel said. "That's clear for us."

The Jets' fourth line featuring recent AHL recalls Spencer Machacek and Ben Maxwell, plus Tim Stapleton, carried them on the road trip. Stapleton holds a three-game goal streak, Machacek has 1 goal and 6 points in four games since his recall, and Maxwell has 1 goal and 4 points in his past three games. However, captain Andrew Ladd, leading goal-scorer Evander Kane, and Blake Wheeler all failed to produce a goal during the road swing, and Noel expects to his use his fourth line more.

"They've been really good, given minimal minutes," Noel said of his fourth line. "I don't know if they continue at that rate, but there is no reason why I can't play them more in games, especially if things don't go the same with other lines, because you can't be a one-line team.

"You've got to give [the fourth line] full marks," Noel said. "My hat goes off to those guys."

Nik Antropov and Chris Thorburn remain sidelined with injuries.

Ondrej Pavelec will make his 12th consecutive start for the Jets.

Here are the projected lines and pairings for the Jets:

Andrew Ladd - Bryan Little - Blake Wheeler
Evander Kane - Alexander Burmistrov - Kyle Wellwood
Tanner Glass - Jim Slater - Antti Miettinen
Tim Stapleton - Ben Maxwell - Spencer Machacek

Tobias Enstrom - Dustin Byfuglien
Ron Hainsey - Zach Bogosian
Randy Jones - Mark Stuart

Ondrej Pavelec
Chris Mason
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Posted On Monday, 03.19.2012 / 12:54 PM

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

Learning experiences continue for Skinner

WINNIPEG – The learning experiences continue for Jeff Skinner, the Carolina Hurricanes’ star second-year forward.

Skinner has completed his two-game suspension for a kicking incident against the St. Louis Blues this past Thursday night. Skinner’s teammates eased some of his guilt by taking two come-from-behind wins in a two-game road swing through Minnesota and Winnipeg that put the Hurricanes back on the edge of postseason discussion.

The 19-year-old has 20 goals in 55 games this season after a 31-goal rookie season that earned him the Calder Trophy.

“It’s always tough sitting out,” said Skinner, who earlier this season missed time with a concussion. “It definitely has been a learning experience. It has been a little bit of a tough year.

"As you go through the League, gain more experience and become more mature, you benefit just as much from going through the tough times and learning how to handle them.”

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Posted On Monday, 03.19.2012 / 12:48 PM

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

Carolina's Staal putting up the good fight

WINNIPEG – On a night when Eric Staal took his turn as the object of scorn among Winnipeg fans, the Carolina Hurricanes’ dressing room countered with ample praise for its captain.

Staal saved the best work of his two-goal, one-assist performance for the third period of the Hurricanes’ 4-3 come-from-behind victory against the Winnipeg Jets. Staal’s breakaway goal midway through the final period tied the game at 3-3 and he then set up Chad LaRose’s game-winner with 1:22 remaining. The win was the third time this season that Carolina has taken two points after trailing at the second intermission.

Afterward, Staal’s teammates jokingly chanted “Jordan’s better!” in reference to a chant that Jets fans unleashed comparing Staal to his brother, Jordan Staal of the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Staal’s good-natured retort to the crowd?

“I mean, Jordan’s good, but I don’t know if he is better,” Staal replied.

Staal has rebounded from a dismal start that plagued both him and the Hurricanes, led to Paul Maurice’s firing and buried the club at the bottom of the Eastern Conference for much of the season. Staal had managed just nine goals by the 40-game mark. But Staal spun off a 12-game point streak for the Hurricanes in the season’s second half and helped power the club back into semi-contention.

“He has taken this team and has been an unbelievable leader,” Carolina coach Kirk Muller said. “Everybody talks about his start, but I think that people should talk about how he has played his last 40 games.”

Goaltender Cam Ward, who won a Stanley Cup alongside Staal in 2006, agreed with Muller.

“It was a huge win for us,” Ward said. “We were led by Staal, who took the game up on his shoulders and was dominant.”

Now the Hurricanes have moved to 11th place in the Eastern Conference and are only three points behind the Jets and five points behind the Washington Capitals for eighth place. While the club’s poor first half may ultimately doom any Stanley Cup Playoff aspirations, the Hurricanes are, if nothing else, making themselves a relevant player again in postseason conversation.

“We’ll take [the win],” Staal said, “and keep working, because stranger things have happened, and we’re going to keep playing hard.”
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Posted On Sunday, 03.18.2012 / 2:50 PM

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

Pesky Hurricanes happy with their recent form

WINNIPEG – Loose, relaxed and intent on finishing their season on a strong note, the Carolina Hurricanes have become a dangerous team capable of dragging opponents down with them below the playoff line.

The Hurricanes (28-29-15) shut out the League-leading St. Louis Blues at home on Thursday night before hitting the road for a two-game sojourn to Minnesota and Winnipeg. Carolina handed Minnesota a 5-3 loss on Saturday afternoon to continue a stretch in which the Hurricanes are playing 10 of 12 games away from home.

Goaltender Brian Boucher played his first game since Dec. 3 and turned in a 23-save effort. Despite the road-heavy schedule, the Hurricanes have won three of their past five games, leaving coach Kirk Muller happy with his club.

“We compete every night and play hard,” Muller said of a club trying to atone for a poor first half that doomed their playoff chances and led to coach Paul Maurice’s firing in November. “Everyone is engaged and feeling a part of it.”

Leading scorer and captain Eric Staal echoed Muller’s words.

“We like our game,” Staal said. “We like the way our team is preparing to come into games and pick up points. We’re still trying to fight and climb and get back into the thick of things and go from there.”

Jeff Skinner will conclude his two-game suspension for a kicking incident on Thursday night against the Blues. Defenseman Jaroslav Spacek exited the game at Minnesota with an injury after he had returned from a two-game absence. Carolina recalled Bobby Sanguinetti from the AHL’s Charlotte Checkers to replace Spacek. As well, Joni Pitkanen skated with Skinner during the Hurricanes’ morning skate.

Cam Ward will start for the Hurricanes, with Boucher backing up.

Here are the projected lines and pairings for the Hurricanes:

Jiri TlustyEric StaalChad Larose
Drayson BowmanJussi JokinenTuomo Ruutu
Andreas NodlBrandon Sutter – Pat Dwyer
Tim BrentAnthony Stewart

Tim GleasonJamie McBain
Jay HarrisonJustin Faulk
Bobby SanguinettiBryan Allen

Cam Ward
Brian Boucher
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Posted On Sunday, 03.18.2012 / 2:43 PM

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

Jets face another critical home test

WINNIPEG – The big games continue to pile up for the Winnipeg Jets.

The Jets (34-29-8) will play host to the Carolina Hurricanes tonight at MTS Centre and continue their bid to overtake the Washington Capitals for eighth place in the Eastern Conference. The Jets must also fight off the Buffalo Sabres, with whom they are tied at 76 points. After tonight, the Capitals, Sabres and Jets will all have played 72 games.

Winnipeg has won its past four outings on home ice and fended off a stubborn Washington club in a 3-2 win at MTS Centre two nights earlier. A three-game, Pittsburgh-Washington-Nashville road trip this week looms for the Jets, who have endured road struggles all season. Winnipeg will play seven of its last 10 games away from home after tonight.

The Jets will welcome Zach Bogosian back to their blue line. Bogosian has missed 12 of the club’s past 13 games with nagging health problems. Bogosian’s return means that Randy Jones is a candidate to sit out tonight.

Winnipeg will also again audition a new right wing on their checking line with Tanner Glass and Jim Slater. Eric Fehr, who played two games in place of the injured Chris Thorburn, was banged up against the Capitals and will not play tonight. Winnipeg recalled Spencer Machacek from their AHL affiliate, the St. John’s IceCaps, to replace Fehr.

Ondrej Pavelec is expected to start again in net for Winnipeg, with Chris Mason backing up. Pavelec has started 11 of the Jets’ past 12 games.

Here are the projected lines and pairings for the Jets:

Andrew LaddBryan LittleBlake Wheeler
Evander KaneAlexander BurmistrovKyle Wellwood
Tanner GlassJim SlaterSpencer Machacek
Tim StapletonNik AntropovAntti Miettinen

Tobias EnstromDustin Byfuglien
Ron HainseyGrant Clitsome
Mark StuartZach Bogosian

Ondrej Pavelec
Chris Mason
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Posted On Saturday, 03.17.2012 / 1:52 PM

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

Ovechkin latest target of MTS Centre faithful

WINNIPEG – Washington Capitals captain Alexander Ovechkin is the latest in a long line of NHL stars to feel the wrath of MTS Centre and its hockey faithful.

Winnipeg Jets fans serenaded Ovechkin with comparisons to his long-time rival, Sidney Crosby, during the Jets’ 3-2 win over the Capitals. Ryan Miller and Steven Stamkos have received similar welcomes in Winnipeg over the past month.

“Crosby’s better!” chants poured down from the rafters inside the compact arena. But if Jets fans thought that the serenade would bother Ovechkin, the move seemed to have little impact on a player who has 17 goals over his past 32 games.

“It’s good,” Ovechkin said of being the focus of Winnipeg fans. “It’s always nice when they talk about you and give you attention. I love it. It’s great for the League. It’s great for us. Everybody [debates] who’s better and who’s not. For me, it’s a nice atmosphere, and I love it.”

Jets coach Claude Noel found humor in Winnipeggers’ creativity, as well.

“It's classic,” Noel said. “That’s what you’ve got to like. It’s not the standard [cheers]. They come up with new things. They are just ruthless.”
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Posted On Saturday, 03.17.2012 / 1:49 PM

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

Jets must avoid letdown against Hurricanes

WINNIPEG – Rather than overlooking a visit this weekend from the Carolina Hurricanes, might the Winnipeg Jets still be looking back at their crucial – and highly emotional – 3-2 win over the Washington Capitals?

Beating Washington at MTS Centre moved the Jets to within two points of the eighth-place Capitals in the Eastern Conference playoff race. The Florida Panthers, who meet 10th-place Buffalo tonight, sit five points ahead of the Jets for the Southeast Division lead.

Given the Jets’ road woes this season, every point earned at home is all the more crucial. A three-game road trip that winds from Pittsburgh through Washington and on to Nashville awaits the Jets after meeting the Hurricanes. Points squandered against the Hurricanes on home ice would damage the Jets’ playoff aspirations badly.

The Hurricanes took a 2-0 decision from the League-leading St. Louis Blues on Thursday night after Cam Ward’s 40-save effort. Entering a road date Saturday at Minnesota, Ward has put together a .949 save percentage in his past four starts.

“They were very good,” Jets coach Claude Noel said of the Hurricanes and their effort against St. Louis. Ward picked up his 200th NHL win in earning first-star honors against the Blues. Jeff Skinner, who received a two-game suspension on Friday for a kicking incident, hit the 20-goal mark, as well.

“One thing that will be clear is that we will not take them lightly,” Noel said. “That’s a really hard thing to manage, because you can say all the right things, but the emotional level might not be there. But you get to see what your team is about, too.”
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Posted On Friday, 03.16.2012 / 2:42 PM

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

Win over Jets would give Capitals breathing room

WINNIPEG -- A win tonight over the Winnipeg Jets would allow the Washington Capitals to keep their gaze looking forward and lessen the urge to look over their shoulders.

The Capitals (36-28-6) have used a 7-2-1 run that includes their current four-game win streak to put space between themselves and the Jets, whom they lead by four points. A win tonight would also move the Capitals to within one point of the Florida Panthers for the Southeast Division lead and mark the first time they have won more than four games in a row since a seven-game win streak opened their season.

"We're getting good goaltending and timely scoring," Capitals coach Dale Hunter said of his club's recent push. "We're basically playing playoff-style hockey."

Settling down the Jets and their rambunctious crowd will be one key for the Capitals, who have split the teams' first two meetings this season in Winnipeg.

"They play with so much emotion and passion," center Brooks Laich said of the Jets.

Hunter is also keenly aware of Winnipeg's home power play, which ranks first in the League this season at a 25.0 percent clip.

"They move the puck well," Hunter said. "They have big shots from the point and get traffic in front. Stay out of the penalty box."

Washington will also regain the services of defenseman Mike Green, who will return after serving a three-game suspension. Tomas Vokoun will return to the Washington net after Michal Neuvirth turned in wins over the past two games.

Here are the projected lines and pairings for the Capitals:

Marcus Johansson - Brooks Laich - Alex Ovechkin
Jason Chimera - Mathieu Perreault - Alexander Semin
Matt Hendricks - Jay Beagle - Troy Brouwer
Mike Knuble - Keith Aucoin - Joel Ward

Karl Alzner - John Carlson
Dennis Wideman - Dmitry Orlov
Jeff Schultz - Mike Green

Tomas Vokoun
Michal Neuvirth
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Posted On Friday, 03.16.2012 / 2:40 PM

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

Jets face critical matchup against eighth-place Caps

WINNIPEG -- The latest in a series of "must-win" games continues tonight for the Winnipeg Jets when they host the Washington Capitals at the MTS Centre.

Washington holds a four-point lead on the Jets (33-29-8) for the Jets for the Eastern Conference's eighth-place slot. With a three-game road trip next week looming for the Jets, ending the Capitals' four-game win streak is crucial. The Jets ended the Dallas Stars' six-game win streak two nights ago at the MTS Centre, where several opponents have seen long point streaks come to an end.

Zach Bogosian's return from a nagging injury appears to be close, but he will again be out of the Winnipeg lineup against the Capitals. Chris Thorburn remains out as well, so former Capital Eric Fehr, who scored only his second goal of the season in the win against Dallas, will again skate on Winnipeg's checking line with Jim Slater and Tanner Glass.

Ondrej Pavelec will start in net for Winnipeg, with Chris Mason backing up. Pavelec, an anchor in net all season for the Jets, has spun off a shutout, three wins and a .931 save percentage over his past five games.

Here are the projected lines and pairings for the Jets:

Andrew Ladd - Bryan Little - Blake Wheeler
Evander Kane - Alexander Burmistrov - Kyle Wellwood
Tanner Glass - Jim Slater - Eric Fehr
Tim Stapleton - Nik Antropov - Antti Miettinen

Tobias Enstrom - Dustin Byfuglien
Ron Hainsey - Grant Clitsome
Randy Jones - Mark Stuart

Ondrej Pavelec
Chris Mason
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Posted On Wednesday, 03.14.2012 / 2:40 PM

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

Stars finish road trip looking to build on Pacific lead

WINNIPEG -- The Dallas Stars made the short Minnesota-to-Winnipeg trip and spent the morning catching up on their sleep.

The Stars (39-26-5) went to sleep having spun off a 10-0-1 run that includes six consecutive wins. A 1-0 win at Minnesota leaves Dallas holding a four-point advantage in the Pacific Division race. Only the ultra-hot Pittsburgh Penguins, who have won nine games in a row, have been able to match the Stars' pace of late, and the team will head home for Texas after tonight's game to play four straight on home ice.

According to the Dallas Morning News, Richard Bachman will start in goal, with Kari Lehtonen backing up.

Here are the projected lines and pairings for the Stars:

Loui Eriksson - Mike Ribeiro - Michael Ryder
Brenden Morrow - Jamie Benn - Steve Ott
Eric Nystrom - Vernon Fiddler - Adam Burish
Ryan Garbutt - Tom Wandell - Tomas Vincour

Alex Goligoski - Stephane Robidas
Mark Fistric - Trevor Daley
Philip Larsen - Adam Pardy

Richard Bachman
Kari Lehtonen

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Posted On Wednesday, 03.14.2012 / 2:38 PM

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

Jets back in action with some ground to make up

WINNIPEG -- A fruitless two-game swing through Vancouver and Calgary followed by a five-day layoff has left the Winnipeg Jets chasing the Eastern Conference pack.

The Jets (32-29-8) last played in Winnipeg on March 5 and finished that night at 72 points, just two points behind the Florida Panthers for the Southeast Division lead. Now the 10th-place Jets trail the Panthers by seven points, and the resurgent Washington Capitals have elbowed their way into eighth place in the Eastern Conference.

Winnipeg begins a three-game homestand this evening with a visit from the Dallas Stars, who have taken six straight wins and have won 11 of the franchises' 13 all-time meetings. Given that the Jets have only 11 road wins this season and have not shown any indication they will be able to correct their road problems, their stay at home this week has taken on even greater urgency for a club trying to stay above water in the playoff race.

But the Jets will do so without defenseman Zach Bogosian, whose injury woes linger, and right wing Chris Thorburn, who exited the Jets' loss in Calgary and will be out for an extended period of time. Going in for Thorburn on the Jets' checking line will be little-used forward Eric Fehr. Coach Claude Noel has not played Fehr since Feb. 21, and Fehr has only 1 goal this season.

Ondrej Pavelec will again start in net for Winnipeg, with Chris Mason backing up.

Here are the projected lines and pairings for the Jets:

Andrew Ladd - Bryan Little - Blake Wheeler
Evander Kane - Alexander Burmistrov - Kyle Wellwood
Tanner Glass - Jim Slater - Eric Fehr
Tim Stapleton - Nik Antropov - Antti Miettinen

Tobias Enstrom - Dustin Byfuglien
Ron Hainsey - Grant Clitsome
Randy Jones - Mark Stuart

Ondrej Pavelec
Chris Mason
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Posted On Monday, 03.05.2012 / 2:42 PM

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

Buffalo riding workhorse Miller during improbable run

WINNIPEG -- The Buffalo Sabres' improbable march back into the Eastern Conference playoff race continues tonight against the Winnipeg Jets.

A 6-0-2 run has pulled the Sabres (30-27-8) into ninth place, two points behind the Jets. A regulation win tonight would slide Buffalo ahead of Winnipeg for the East's eighth spot. The Sabres have not occupied eighth place since Dec. 19. The Sabres wrap up their five-game road trip that has criss-crossed North America fresh off a 5-3 win at Vancouver on Saturday night.

"We've been treating every game as a playoff game," Sabres coach Lindy Ruff said.

But Ruff expects a tough test in Winnipeg, where the Sabres suffered a 4-1 loss on Jan. 19.

"This team here is one of the better home teams," Ruff said, "and has really played well in this building. We're going to have to play well. We're going to have to execute. We're going to have to make plays."

Ruff will start goaltender Ryan Miller for the 19th time in Buffalo's past 20 games. Miller has spun an 11-2-3 mark over his past 17 games to go with a 1.70 goals-against average and .944 save percentage. The Sabres also expect to regain Robin Regehr, who missed Saturday's game with a lower-body injury.

Thanks in no small part to Miller's play, the Sabres have been able to shore up defensive problems that plagued them earlier in the season. The Sabres have allowed only seven goals over their past five games, and Miller ran a 106-minute shutout streak earlier in the road trip.

"I think we're playing much better defensively," Sabres captain Jason Pominville said. "We're making teams work hard to get their opportunities. I still think we're playing an aggressive style, but we're there to back each other up."

Here are the projected lines and pairings for the Sabres:

Thomas Vanek - Derek Roy - Jason Pominville
Tyler Ennis - Cody Hodgson - Drew Stafford
Nathan Gerbe - Ville Leino - Patrick Kaleta
Matt Ellis - Brad Boyes - Corey Tropp

Jordan Leopold - Tyler Myers
Christian Ehrhoff - Robyn Regehr
Andrej Sekera - Mike Weber

Ryan Miller
Jhonas Enroth
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Posted On Monday, 03.05.2012 / 2:40 PM

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

Jets can push Sabres back in race for eighth

WINNIPEG -- Every game going forward for the time being is crucial for the Winnipeg Jets.

But now the Jets (31-27-8) have company in tonight's game with the Buffalo Sabres at the MTS Centre that concludes an eight-game homestand. Written off some time ago, the Sabres have rolled off a 6-0-2 run and can pass the Jets tonight with a regulation win and take over eighth place in the Eastern Conference.

The Jets have managed a 4-1-2 homestand so far, piling up 29 goals in the process, but have yet to be able to put distance between themselves and the Sabres, Washington, Tampa Bay and Toronto. The Florida Panthers have extended their Southeast Division lead over the Jets to four games. Five of Winnipeg’s final 16 games will pit them against Southeast Division clubs still jostling for playoff positioning.

Jets coach Claude Noel knows that his club will be facing a tough Buffalo opponent riding a wave of confidence.

"They're in a good place right now when you watch them play," Noel said. "They look like they play with confidence. They look like they're feeding off their goaltender. They look like they're certainly feeling good about things. They're a dangerous group."

Defenseman Zach Bogosian, who returned for last Thursday's 7-0 win over Florida after a seven-game absence (upper body), will again miss action due to a lower-body injury. Grant Clitsome will make his Jets debut and take Bogosian's spot in a pairing with Ron Hainsey.

Ondrej Pavelec will start for the Jets.

Here are the projected lines and pairings for the Jets:

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

Tobias Enstrom - Dustin Byfuglien
Ron Hainsey - Grant Clitsome
Randy Jones - Mark Stuart

Ondrej Pavelec
Chris Mason
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Posted On Thursday, 03.01.2012 / 2:30 PM

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

Panthers have enjoyed success at MTS Centre

WINNIPEG -- The Florida Panthers look to tighten their grip on the Southeast Division lead further tonight when they visit the Winnipeg Jets.

Visiting teams have experienced difficulty in Winnipeg this season, but the Panthers (30-20-12) have found success in Manitoba this season. Along with the New York Islanders, the Panthers are the only team that has come into the MTS Centre and taken two wins this season. The Panthers also have assembled a 5-1-1 mark over seven games in Canada this season.

A regulation win tonight for the Panthers, who have won three straight games, would extend Florida's divisional lead on the Jets to six points and five points on the Washington Capitals. A win would also tie the club's franchise record of five consecutive on the road, set during the 2008-09 season. The 17 points that the Panthers accumulated in February matched a franchise record for the month.

However, the Panthers will be without Kris Versteeg (lower-body injury), who has lit up the Jets for 5 goals in two games on Winnipeg ice this season.

Jose Theodore is expected to start in net.

Here are the projected lines and pairings for the Panthers:

Sean Bergenheim - Stephen Weiss - Mikael Samuelsson
Tomas Fleischmann - Tomas Kopecky - Wojtek Wolski
Shawn Matthias - Mike Santorelli - Jack Skille
Krystofer Barch - John Madden - Jerred Smithson

Brian Campbell - Jason Garrison
Ed Jovanovski - Erik Gudbranson
Keaton Ellerby - Mike Weaver

Jose Theodore
Scott Clemmensen
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Posted On Thursday, 03.01.2012 / 2:26 PM

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

Jets face virtual must-win against first-place Panthers

WINNIPEG -- Tonight's date with the Florida Panthers at the MTS Centre figured to be a critical game for the Winnipeg Jets.

But a home loss that featured a third-period meltdown to the Edmonton Oilers earlier this week means that tonight's game takes on even greater importance for the Jets (30-27-8). Winnipeg trails Florida by four points, and the Jets cede three games in hand to the Panthers. A regulation loss would set the ninth-place Jets six points behind Florida and leave them stuck one point behind the eighth-place Washington Capitals, who will also hold three games in hand after tonight.

While eight of the Jets' final 17 games are against Southeast Division opponents, a season-high eight-game homestand has yielded Winnipeg wins in only three of its first six games. The Jets will have a rare weekend off before concluding the homestand against the Buffalo Sabres early next week.

Aiding Winnipeg will be the return of defenseman Zach Bogosian after an upper-body injury cost him a seven-game absence. With Bogosian's return, the Jets, who have lost 244 man-games to injury this season, have a completely healthy roster. Newcomer Grant Clitsome, whom the Jets acquired via waivers from the Columbus Blue Jackets on Monday, will not dress.

Ondrej Pavelec is expected to start in net.

Here are the projected lines and pairings for the Jets:

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

Tobias Enstrom - Dustin Byfuglien
Zach Bogosian - Ron Hainsey
Randy Jones - Mark Stuart

Ondrej Pavelec
Chris Mason
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Posted On Monday, 02.27.2012 / 2:24 PM

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

Gilbert trade a surprise for Oilers

WINNIPEG -- The Edmonton Oilers planned to be without injured defenseman Tom Gilbert for tonight's date with the Winnipeg Jets.

What the Oilers (24-31-6) did not expect was to wrap up their morning skate at the MTS Centre with the news that they would be without the well-liked Gilbert for good. Edmonton management shipped Gilbert to the Minnesota Wild for blueliner Nick Schultz. Gilbert's name had not been linked in previous trade rumors, making the trade all the more surprising for his teammates.

Schultz must still pass a team physical, Oilers coach Tom Renney said, and he will not dress for the Oilers against the Jets. Renney spoke by phone to Gilbert, who did not make the trip to Winnipeg.

"Kudos to Tom Gilbert for being an outstanding teammate, obviously, and a really solid NHL defenseman, and one that his teammates and the coaching staff will miss," Renney said. "He brought everything that he could every day to the rink for us, and we certainly appreciate that and wish him real good luck going forward."

Former Winnipeg Jet Nikolai Khabibulin was hoping to dress for tonight's game, but a lingering groin injury will sideline him. Yann Danis will back up starter Devan Dubnyk.

Here are the projected lines and pairings for the Oilers:

Ryan Smyth - Sam Gagner - Jordan Eberle
Taylor Hall - Ryan Nugent-Hopkins - Ales Hemsky
Ryan Jones - Shawn Horcoff - Ben Eager
Lennart Petrell - Eric Belanger - Darcy Hordichuk

Ryan Whitney - Corey Potter
Ladislav Smid - Jeff Petry
Andy Sutton - Cam Barker

Devan Dubnyk
Yann Danis
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Posted On Monday, 02.27.2012 / 2:00 PM

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

Jets add Clitsome, turn focus to Oilers

WINNIPEG -- The NHL trade deadline talk dominated the MTS Centre, but the Winnipeg Jets have a playoff race to focus on, first and foremost.

The Jets (30-26-8) continue their eight-game homestand with a visit from the Edmonton Oilers, the city's long-time Smythe Division nemesis during its first NHL era. Eighth-place Winnipeg is two points behind the Florida Panthers for the Southeast Division lead and yields three games in hand to Kevin Dineen's club. The Jets and Panthers will meet in Winnipeg on Thursday.

Coach Claude Noel admits that combining the trade deadline and a game-day routine is a complicated mix, particularly inside a dressing room that he says has solid team chemistry.

"It's a tough day for players for a lot of different reasons," Noel said. "I think our chemistry is great, and that is always the fear."

Defenseman Zach Bogosian will be a game-time decision for the Jets.

The Jets also added defenseman Grant Clitsome via waivers from the Columbus Blue Jackets. Noel does not expect that Clitsome will be available for action against the Oilers. The 26-year-old Clitsome registered 4 goals and 14 points in 51 games this season and was in the Columbus organization when Noel worked with the Blue Jackets.

"You can never have enough defenseman," Noel said.

Ondrej Pavelec, who had a game off in Saturday afternoon's 3-2 shootout loss to St. Louis, will return again to the Winnipeg net.

Here are the projected lines and pairings for the Jets:

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

Tobias Enstrom - Dustin Byfuglien
Johnny Oduya - Ron Hainsey
Randy Jones - Mark Stuart

Ondrej Pavelec
Chris Mason
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Posted On Friday, 02.24.2012 / 6:40 PM

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

Jets ready for tough test from Blues

WINNIPEG - The Winnipeg Jets might finally control the Southeast Division's top spot, but the challenges will keep coming for coach Claude Noel's club.

The St. Louis Blues visit the MTS Centre on Saturday afternoon and will present the Jets with another stiff challenge in the fifth of a season-long eight-game homestand. The Jets are 3-0-1 during their current stay at home and sit one point ahead of the Florida Panthers for the Southeast Division lead.

"It will be a really good challenge for our team," Noel said of his team's final game before the NHL Trade Deadline. "They've got a pretty good team. They've got some good elements when you look at their team."

"It's very clear that they will manage the puck well and will check, check, check," Noel said of the Blues. "You're going to have earn every inch of ice, especially up the ice."

Noel will be matching up against Blues coach Ken Hitchcock, his long-time mentor in the Dallas and Columbus organizations.

"It will be interesting. That's good. It raises the bar, makes it fun," he said.

Noel said after practice on Friday that he has not yet determined his starting goaltender for Saturday's game. Ondrej Pavelec has started Winnipeg's past four games, including a 55-shot barrage from the Philadelphia Flyers this past Tuesday night.

"There are a lot of reasons why you wouldn't want to move off Pavelec," Noel said.

Zach Bogosian will miss his sixth consecutive game on the Winnipeg blue line. What was expected to be a brief absence has lasted longer than expected, and he will not return until at least next week, Noel said.

The Jets also placed forward Antti Miettinen on waivers on Friday. Winnipeg claimed the Finnish veteran on waivers from Tampa Bay on Dec. 13, but the move has not panned out for the Jets. Miettinen has not scored, managed just four assists and been a healthy scratch four times.

"I think that with Miettinen I would like to see more of his play, a little bit better play," Noel said. "I've spoken with him about that."

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Posted On Friday, 02.24.2012 / 6:37 PM

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

Blues are all smiles as they prepare for Jets

WINNIPEG -- The St. Louis Blues landed in Winnipeg early on Friday morning feeling good about themselves.

The Blues (37-17-7) earned a 3-2 shootout win on the road against the Nashville Predators on Thursday night in a bounce-back effort after a tough home loss to the Boston Bruins a night earlier. The win leaves St. Louis 7-3-0 in its past 10 games.

"To come back and get two points off a back-to-back was really impressive for us," coach Ken Hitchcock said after the Blues practiced at the MTS Centre on Friday afternoon in preparation for Saturday's matinee against the Winnipeg Jets.

Leaving previous efforts in the past, be they wins or losses, has been strength for the Blues this season, Hitchcock explained. The veteran coach attributes the club's ability to recover and refocus on a strong veteran core that includes Jason Arnott, Barret Jackman and Jamie Langenbrunner.

"I think the young guys have responded," Hitchcock said of the role that the veteran leadership plays inside the St. Louis dressing room.

"We're different from a lot of teams in that our skill base is all young," Hitchcock said. "It's a young core. We're asking a lot of 22- and 23-year-old players to carry the day emotionally and physically. So, it has been trying at times for them, and the veteran guys have really helped those guys stabilize."

Now the Blues find themselves in Winnipeg to begin the Western Canada leg of a six-game trip. The MTS Centre has quickly become one of the most difficult buildings for visiting clubs. With the Jets entrenched in the heart of the Eastern Conference playoff race, Hitchcock expects an imposing environment for his club.

"They've got a great feel in the building," Hitchcock said of the Jets, who have won 19 of their 31 home dates this season. "We've got to find a way to pull the crowd out of the building if we can. It's going to be hard to do, but I think the teams that have a little bit of success here quiet the crowd down."

"One way that you can to do that is to make them play defense," Hitchcock continued. "We're going to come with a heavy, hard forecheck and see where we go."

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Posted On Friday, 02.24.2012 / 10:40 AM

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

Flood's return to lineup eases burden on Jets' defense

WINNIPEG -- Zach Bogosian's continued absence finally meant an entry into the Winnipeg Jets' lineup for Mark Flood.

The injured Bogosian missed the Jets' 4-3 win over the visiting Tampa Bay Lightning on Thursday night, his fifth consecutive absence. Randy Jones had replaced Bogosian on the Winnipeg blue line. Flood continued to remain a healthy scratch and before playing the Lightning had not dressed for a game since Jan. 19.

But Jets coach Claude Noel opted to go with seven defensemen against Tampa Bay and scratch forwards Eric Fehr and Antti Miettinen. A chaotic 5-4 overtime loss to the Philadelphia Flyers on Tuesday night had left the Winnipeg defense corps drained, and neither Fehr nor Miettinen has shown any indication of breaking loose of their season-long slumps.

Returning Flood to game action has been an objective for Noel in recent days. The Jets are loathe to attempt slipping Flood through the NHL waiver wire in order to assign him to the St. John's IceCaps, their AHL affiliate. Playing both Flood and Jones also allows the Jets to showcase one of the two for a potential trade before the NHL's Monday deadline, though Noel shooed away any such speculation on Thursday morning.

Flood stepped into the lineup and allowed the Winnipeg coaching staff to dial down the minutes that their workhorse defensemen had to play. Dustin Byfuglien, who played 26:51 against Philadelphia, logged a more manageable 20:32 with Flood available to provide blue-line relief. Ron Hainsey's ice time decreased from 24:24 on Tuesday to 19:51 against the Lightning.

Flood finished with 9:03 of ice time and assisted on the Jets' second goal.
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Posted On Friday, 02.24.2012 / 10:34 AM

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

Trades, injuries have depleted Tampa's scoring lines

WINNIPEG -- Guy Boucher managed to survive a game-day without any dents to his roster.

Prior to the Tampa Bay Lightning's 4-3 loss to the Winnipeg Jets on Thursday, Boucher's club had seen three players traded on the day of their previous three games over a five-day span. Dominic Moore, Pavel Kubina and Steve Downie all departed in separate trades, and none of the trio yielded a roster player in return.

For a club that began the night only five points out of eighth place in the Eastern Conference and owning games in-hand, the losses hurt in the short-term. Those moves, coupled with captain Vincent Lecavalier's upper-body injury that will sideline him into March and Marc-Andre Bergeron's ongoing injury woes, left the Lightning roster thin for their crucial meeting with the Jets. Tampa Bay's second line of Ryan Malone, Nate Thompson and Adam Hall had combined for just 18 goals this season prior to facing the Jets.

The personnel losses left the scoring burden squarely on the shoulders on the Martin St. Louis-Steven Stamkos-Teddy Purcell first line, allowing Winnipeg to key on that trio throughout the contest until they finally broke loose late in the third period when the Jets already owned a 4-0 lead.

"Well, obviously, depth is huge in this League," Boucher said. "If [Lecavalier is] here tonight, we would certainly have two lines of guys who can score goals."

Adjusting to the changes has been a challenge, Boucher acknowledged.

"It's been tough for some of the players to manage it, but whether this year or last year, we have shown a lot of character," Boucher said. "We've had injuries all year. We've basically never played with our full lineup and it keeps on going. We've been adjusting for a while now."

While some clubs would bristle at losing roster players while fully engaged in a playoff battle, Boucher insists that Tampa Bay management has the support of the Lightning dressing room.

"The thing is that I'm the first guy that trusts (general manager) Steve Yzerman and the plan that he is putting forth, and the players that we have got all trust in him," he said. "In the long run, we know that it's going to be a plan that is going to take us closer to what we want to do."
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Posted On Thursday, 02.23.2012 / 3:00 PM

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

Lightning still push for playoffs despite deals, injuries

WINNIPEG -- The Tampa Bay Lightning have been in selling mode over the past week, but their playoff aspirations are not completely gone.

The Lightning (27-26-6), who have shipped out Dominic Moore, Pavel Kubina and Steve Downie in trades over the past week, meet the Winnipeg Jets tonight at the MTS Centre. All three players have been moved on game-days for the Lightning, leaving coach Guy Boucher a bit skittish before facing the Jets.

"I'm scared to check my phone," Boucher said jokingly prior to Tampa Bay's morning skate. "Hopefully we don't have another one traded today. It's been tough for some of the players to manage it, but whether this year or last year, we have shown a lot of character. We've had injuries all year. We've basically never played with our full lineup and it keeps on going."

Thanks to a 10-3-2 run that includes their current three-game winning streak, the Lightning sit five points behind the ninth-place Jets and the eighth-place Toronto Maple Leafs. They hold three games in hand on Winnipeg, however, and a single game in hand on the Leafs as well.

Boucher's club will be without captain Vincent Lecavalier, who will miss his second straight game with an upper-body injury. Injured defenseman Marc-Andre Bergeron will not dress for the 17th time out of the Lightning's past 18 games.

The Lightning claimed forward Tim Wallace on waivers from the New York Islanders on Thursday morning, but he will not be in the Tampa Bay lineup tonight. Wallace notched 1 assist in 36 games with the Islanders this season.

Mathieu Garon will make his third consecutive start in net for the Lightning.

Here are the projected lines and pairings for the Lightning:

Martin St. Louis - Steven Stamkos - Teddy Purcell
Ryan Malone - Nate Thompson - Adam Hall
Tom Pyatt - Brett Connolly - Ryan Shannon
JT Wyman - Trevor Smith - Mike Angelidis

Eric Brewer - Victor Hedman
Brett Clark - Matt Gilroy
Brendan Mikkelson - Bruno Gervais

Mathieu Garon
Dwayne Roloson
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Posted On Thursday, 02.23.2012 / 2:56 PM

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

Jets continue homestand, battle for Southeast lead

WINNIPEG -- The Winnipeg Jets will again attempt to climb into the Southeast Division lead when they host the Tampa Bay Lightning in the fourth contest of an eight-game homestand at the MTS Centre.

The Jets (29-27-6) failed to close out the Philadelphia Flyers on Tuesday night, losing 5-4 in overtime after allowing Philadelphia's tying goal with 10.8 seconds in regulation. The Jets sit outside the Eastern Conference's top-eight mix in ninth place at 65 points. A win tonight and a home loss for the Florida Panthers to Minnesota would allow the Jets to slip into the Southeast Division's top spot and third place in the Eastern Conference.

Defenseman Zach Bogosian will sit out his fifth consecutive contest.

Jets coach Claude Noel hinted that the Jets might insert Mark Flood into the lineup and skate seven defensemen. Flood has not played since Jan. 19. It is also expected that Antti Miettinen will replace Eric Fehr on Winnipeg's fourth line. Potentially sacrificing a forward for an extra defenseman against Tampa Bay might be an option after a physical, draining game against the Flyers.

"When you give up 55 shots, are you wearing down your defensemen and your goalies?" Noel asked. "Maybe I should dress three goalies. We're trying to manage our rest-and-recovery systems a bit so that we have energy."

Ondrej Pavelec, who stopped 50 of 55 Philadelphia shots on Tuesday night, will start again in the Winnipeg net.

Here are the projected lines and pairings for the Jets:

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

Tobias Enstrom - Dustin Byfuglien
Johnny Oduya - Ron Hainsey
Randy Jones - Mark Stuart

Ondrej Pavelec
Chris Mason
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Posted On Wednesday, 02.22.2012 / 9:52 AM

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

Noel sees bright spots despite Jets' overtime loss

WINNIPEG -- It is on nights like these that Winnipeg Jets coach Claude Noel really puts on his thinking cap.

The Jets' 5-4 overtime loss to the Philadelphia Flyers on Tuesday night became a missed chance for the club to elbow past the Florida Panthers into the Southeast Division lead and the Eastern Conference's third spot. Philadelphia tied that game at 4-4 with 10.8 seconds left in regulation before closing out the Jets in overtime.

Afterward, Noel admitted that he and his club were disappointed, but he did not expect the setback to linger inside the Winnipeg dressing room.

"I don't see that as an issue," Noel said.

Instead, Noel chose to find bright spots in the Jets' efforts against the Flyers, a team locked in its own playoff battle in the heart of the Eastern Conference. The Flyers erased three separate Winnipeg leads in taking the win. But Noel liked that his club continued to push back against Philadelphia.

"For me, the resilience is good," Noel said. "We had a chance to win the game. I like our group as much as I liked them yesterday and the day before."

The Jets were a quiet group after the loss, and Noel certainly noticed his club's discontent.

"I've got a really unhappy group in there," Noel said. "They're really disappointed. They're not real happy at all.

"I think our guys care about winning," he continued. "There is a will that I like. We try to find ways to win games. Our will was good. Our intent was good. We tried to get some stuff done."
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Posted On Wednesday, 02.22.2012 / 9:45 AM

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

Bryzgalov soaks up 'adulation' in Winnipeg

WINNIPEG -- Winnipeg Jets fans may not care much for Philadelphia Flyers netminder Ilya Bryzgalov, but he certainly seems to like them.

The latest in a long line of NHL goaltenders to receive an unfriendly welcome at the MTS Centre, Bryzgalov has come under intense jeering from the Winnipeg fan base after making comments about the city that many fans deemed to be critical. Jets fans serenaded Bryzgalov with boos and taunts throughout the evening as he made his first-ever NHL start in the city.

But Bryzgalov, who made 22 saves in the Flyers' 5-4 overtime win, offered a cheeky assessment of his evening in Winnipeg.

"I like it," Bryzgalov said of the experience. "It was a great atmosphere. I wish every building would be supportive like here and support me like here."

"It was nice to hear [them] cheering, 'Ilya, Ilya,'" Bryzgalov said jokingly. "I never heard that before anywhere. When 15,000 people support you, it's very impressive."

"Here they cheer me," Bryzgalov continued, tongue in cheek. "In Philly, they boo me."

The evening capped off an eventful day for Bryzgalov in the Manitoba capital. He took a shot to his left glove hand during Philadelphia's morning skate, leaving his status for the game in doubt. However, the injury did not prove to be serious.
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Posted On Tuesday, 02.21.2012 / 5:18 PM

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

Bryzgalov deemed fit to start against Jets

WINNIPEG -- The Philadelphia Flyers announced this afternoon that goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov will start for the club in tonight's game with the Winnipeg Jets.

Bryzgalov had taken a shot to his (left) glove hand during the team's morning skate at the MTS Centre earlier in the day. Bryzgalov left the ice early, returned to the Philadelphia dressing room and did not speak with the media. Comcast Sportsnet later reported that Bryzgalov went for X-rays.

Bryzgalov has twice faced the Jets in Philadelphia this season. He allowed four goals on 10 shots in relief of Sergei Bobrovsky during a 9-8 loss on Oct. 27. He started against the Jets at home on Jan. 31 and turned in a 23-save performance in 2-1 shootout loss.

Bryzgalov has gone 20-11-6 with a 2.79 goals-against average in 40 games this season with the Flyers. He joined the club this past summer from the Phoenix Coyotes after agreeing to a nine-year contract.

Bobrovsky will back up Bryzgalov tonight.
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Posted On Tuesday, 02.21.2012 / 2:02 PM

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

Bryzgalov injures hand in morning practice

WINNIPEG -- Philadelphia Flyers goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov departed the club's morning skate at the MTS Centre with an apparent injury to his left hand.

A shot hit Bryzgalov in the glove (left) hand during practice and he headed to the Philadelphia dressing room. Bryzgalov was at his locker stall when local media entered the dressing room later, but he did not speak to reporters.

Philadelphia's Comcast Sportsnet reported that Bryzgalov went for X-rays. His immediate status is not known, and Flyers coach Peter Laviolette declined to announce his starting goaltender for tonight's game with the Winnipeg Jets. However, CSNPhilly.com's Tim Panaccio reported Flyers GM Paul Holmgren said of Bryzgalov: "He is fine."

Bryzgalov has gone 20-11-6 with a 2.79 goals-against average in 40 games this season with the Flyers. He joined the club this past summer from the Phoenix Coyotes after agreeing to a nine-year contract.

If Bryzgalov can't play, Sergei Bobrovsky will get the start tonight.
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Posted On Tuesday, 02.21.2012 / 1:33 PM

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

Flyers hope road cures February ills

WINNIPEG -- The Philadelphia Flyers look to turn around their month when they begin a four-game road trip tonight against the Winnipeg Jets.

Just 3-5-1 in February, the Flyers arrived in Winnipeg on Monday after a 6-4 home loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins on Saturday afternoon in which starting goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov allowed three goals on just 13 shots before exiting the game in the second period. Philadelphia has lost 10 of the past 11 meetings with the Winnipeg/Atlanta franchise, and the Jets have taken all three games this season. The Flyers continue their trip this week with visits to Edmonton and Calgary.

Philadelphia management has worked to retool the club's blue line over the past week, adding Nicklas Grossman from Dallas and Tampa Bay's Pavel Kubina in trades. Grossman had team-highs of eight hits and three blocked shots in his Philadelphia debut on Saturday.

The trades also allowed the club to return youngsters Marc-Andre Bourdon and Erik Gustafsson to the American Hockey League for further development.

"I think it adds depth, experience and size," Flyers coach Peter Laviolette said of bringing aboard Grossman and Kubina.

Bryzgalov left the ice early and was taken for X-rays after being hit in the glove hand with a shot during the team's morning skate at MTS Centre. Laviolette would not indicate who would start in net for the Flyers, but CSNPilly.com quotes GM Paul Holmgren as saying of Bryzgalov, "He is fine."

We had the Jets linup earlier; here is the projected lineup for the Flyers:

Scott Hartnell - Claude Giroux - Jakub Voracek
Danny Briere - Matt Read - Jaromir Jagr
James van Riemsdyk - Brayden Schenn - Wayne Simmonds
Maxime Talbot - Sean Couturier - Eric Wellwood

Braydon Coburn - Kimmo Timonen
Matt Carle - Pavel Kubina
Andrej Meszaros - Nicklas Grossman

If Bryzgalov can't start in goal, backup Sergei Bobrovsky would get the start.
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Posted On Tuesday, 02.21.2012 / 1:25 PM

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

Win would put Jets in division lead

WINNIPEG -- The Winnipeg Jets' bid to join the upper reaches of the Eastern Conference continues tonight at the MTS Centre with a visit from the Philadelphia Flyers.

The Jets (29-26-6) have used three consecutive wins and the struggles of the Florida Panthers and Washington Capitals to elbow their way into the playoff discussion.

The Flyers-Jets season series has seen Winnipeg take all three meetings this season, including a 6-4 win at the MTS Centre on Nov. 19. A win tonight in the third contest of an eight-game homestand would push the Jets ahead of the Panthers and into first place in the Southeast Division and third place in the Eastern Conference.

However, the Panthers will hold four games in hand on the Jets after tonight, and Jets coach Claude Noel is placing little stock in what leading the Southeast Division at this point in the season would mean.

Defenseman Zach Bogosian will miss his fourth straight game tonight while forward Eric Fehr will remain in the Winnipeg lineup.

"I think it has the potential to be longer," Noel said of Bogosian's status. "We're hoping for Thursday (at home against Tampa Bay). It is day-to-day."

Ondrej Pavelec will start in net for the Jets once again after backstopping the Jets to home wins against Boston and Colorado this past weekend.

Here is the projected lineup for the Jets:

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

Tobias Enstrom - Dustin Byfuglien
Johnny Oduya - Ron Hainsey
Randy Jones - Mark Stuart

Ondrej Pavelec will start in goal, with Chris Mason the backup.
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Posted On Sunday, 02.19.2012 / 3:13 PM

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

Avalanche's projected lineup for Sunday

WINNIPEG -- The Colorado Avalanche will have an opponent with which to commiserate, but they do not expect any sympathy from the Winnipeg Jets.

Like the Jets, the Avalanche (29-26-4) have 62 points and find themselves in a battle to break into the playoff top-eight after winning at Edmonton, 3-1, on Friday night. Sitting in 11th place, the Avalanche sit three points behind the eighth-place Calgary Flames and will also need to overtake the Los Angeles Kings and Dallas Stars.

"It's going to be an exciting game," Colorado coach Joe Sacco predicted. "It should be almost a playoff-type atmosphere."

The Avalanche will welcome back Matt Duchene, who missed 20 games with a knee injury. Duchene has 12 goals in 39 games before suffering the first major injury of his career.

"We're excited to have him back," Sacco said. "It's not going to be the easiest transition when you miss that amount of time, so it's going to take a little bit of time to get his feet well. But we're a team now that has played much better."

"Offensively, we still need more guys contributing," Sacco said of the  and Matt helps in that area."

Sacco would like to manage Duchene's minutes on a line with Paul Stastny and Milan Hejduk, but admitted that the plan may be subject to change.

"You always say that," Sacco said, "but it never really happens. It just depends on how the game is going and how he is feeling. We'll monitor as we go along. He has looked good in practice. He looks like he has a lot of energy, a lot of jump."

Duchene spent Saturday making sure that he was well-rested for the tonight's game and watched the Calgary-Los Angeles game on Hockey Night in Canada to tire himself out before bed.

"It's great to be back," Duchene said.

Duchene hopes that his play will merit extra ice time in spite of his long lay-off, and Sacco admitted that Duchene's first-line status and role on the Colorado power play will cause his minutes to accumulate quickly.

"It doesn't matter which way you contribute," Duchene said, "as long as you contribute."

While regaining Duchene's services, Colorado will be without Peter Mueller and T.J. Galiardi.

Semyon Varlamov will again start in net for the Avalanche after stopping 26 of 27 shots at Edmonton.

Here are the projected lines and pairings for the Avalanche:

AVALANCHE

Matt DuchenePaul StastnyMilan Hejduk
Mark OlverRyan O'ReillyGabriel Landeskog
Daniel WinnikJay McClementKevin Porter
Cody McLeodDavid Van Der GulikChuck Kobasew

Kyle QuinceyErik Johnson
Jan HejdaRyan O'Byrne
Shane O'BrienRyan Wilson

Sergei Varlamov
Cedrick Desjardins
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Posted On Sunday, 02.19.2012 / 3:07 PM

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

Jets' projected lineup for Sunday

WINNIPEG -- The Winnipeg Jets bought themselves more time in the Eastern Conference playoff race with a 4-2 win over the Boston Bruins on Friday night that began an eight-game homestand.

Now the Jets (28-26-6) have a chance to make further headway when the Colorado Avalanche visit the MTS Centre tonight. The Washington Capitals and Toronto Maple Leafs both lost on Saturday night. With a win tonight, the Jets could pass the Capitals and tie the Maple Leafs at 64 points. A Jets win and a regulation loss for the Florida Panthers would also slide Winnipeg to within one point of the Southeast Division lead.

Zach Bogosian will miss his third consecutive game on the Winnipeg blue line. In an attempt to generate more production from his fourth line, Jets coach Claude Noel will replace Antti Miettinen with Eric Fehr.

But Fehr drew a sharp challenge from Noel. Fehr has just one goal in 31 games this season and has struggled to make an impact in his first year with the organization after being acquired in an offseason trade with the Capitals.

"I'd like him to show me that he wants to have success," Noel said of Fehr. "It's that simple. Help me to help you. I'll play him 20 minutes if he can help me. All I want from him is to just perform. Ask yourself at the end of the day, 'What impact did I have on the game?'"

"Show it to me," Noel continued. "I'm waiting."

Ondrej Pavelec will start in net for the Jets.

Here are the projected lines and pairings for Winnipeg:

JETS

Andrew LaddBryan LittleBlake Wheeler
Evander KaneAlexander BurmistrovKyle Wellwood
Tanner GlassJim SlaterChris Thorburn
Tim StapletonNik AntropovEric Fehr

Toby Enstrom – Dustin Byfuglien
Johnny OduyaRon Hainsey
Randy JonesMark Stuart

Ondrej Pavelec
Chris Mason
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Posted On Friday, 02.17.2012 / 2:56 PM

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

Hennessy in lineup as Bruins continue road trip

WINNIPEG -- The Boston Bruins continue their season-high six-game road trip tonight against the Winnipeg Jets at the MTS Centre.

After taking a 4-3 shootout win over the Montreal Canadiens to open the trip, the Bruins (35-18-2) sit second in the Eastern Conference standings, but are trying to fend off the Ottawa Senators, who are four points behind Boston.

Boston will be without forward Rich Peverely, who will miss four-to-six weeks with a sprained right-knee ligament that he suffered in Montreal. The Bruins recalled Josh Hennessey from Providence of the AHL to replace Peverley, who joins Nathan Horton (concussion) as injured Bruins forwards.

"That's two guys that play a lot of minutes for us," Bruins coach Claude Julien told Boston reporters. "That's just part of the game."

But Julien is taking Peverley's loss in stride and choosing to lean on his club's adherence to strong systems play against Winnipeg, who beat the Bruins, 2-1, when the clubs met at the MTS Centre on Dec. 6.

"We always believe that when we respect our game plan and our system, we're usually successful," Julien said.

Tuukka Rask, 0-3-1 in his last four decisions, will take his turn in the Boston net. The start will be Rask's 100th NHL appearance.

Here are the projected lines and pairings for the Bruins:

Milan Lucic - David Krejci - Benoit Pouliot
Brad Marchand - Patrice Bergeron - Tyler Seguin
Daniel Paille - Chris Kelly - Jordan Caron
Gregory Campbell - Josh Hennessy - Shawn Thornton

Zdeno Chara - Zach Boychuk
Dennis Seidenberg - Joe Corvo
Adam McQuaid - Andrew Ference

Tuukka Rask
Tim Thomas
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Posted On Friday, 02.17.2012 / 2:48 PM

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

Potential make-or-break homestand starts for Jets

WINNIPEG -- A season-high eight-game homestand stretching over three weeks will likely determine whether or not the Winnipeg Jets are a playoff team this season.

After taking a 4-3 shootout win on the road over the Minnesota Wild on Thursday night, the Jets (27-26-6) returned home and will meet the Boston Bruins tonight at the MTS Centre. The first step in this eight-game stretch will involve the Jets confronting two of the demons that have tormented this season -- games on consecutive nights and an inability to hold leads against the Bruins.

Winnipeg sits five points behind the Florida Panthers for the Southeast Division lead and four points behind the Toronto Maple Leafs for the eighth-place slot in the Eastern Conference. The ninth-place Washington Capitals sit between the Jets and both the Panthers and the Maple Leafs. Tonight's Washington-Florida game will ensure that at least one of the Capitals or Panthers will earn points tonight, making this game all the more critical for Winnipeg.

The Jets are 0-9-0 this season in back-to-back games, and coach Claude Noel turned tense when asked about his club's struggles.

"We'd like to change that if we could," Noel replied. "That's about all I have to say."

As well, the Jets have surrendered leads in both of their visits this year to Boston, including a third-period lead on Jan. 10 in which the Bruins scorched the Jets for three goals in a 6:41 third-period span.

"They're a really good third-period team," Noel said of the Bruins, "and we witnessed that first-hand when they took over a game in Boston. We have a lot of respect for what they do and what they're about."

Zach Bogosian, who missed Thursday's game due to injury, is not expected to return to the Winnipeg blue line tonight. Randy Jones will again play in place of Bogosian.

Ondrej Pavelec will start in net for the Jets.

Here are the projected lines and pairings for Winnipeg:

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

Tobias Enstrom - Dustin Byfuglien
Johnny Oduya - Ron Hainsey
Randy Jones - Mark Stuart

Ondrej Pavelec
Chris Mason
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Posted On Tuesday, 02.14.2012 / 2:56 PM

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

Critical stretch for Jets begins Tuesday night

WINNIPEG -- Winnipeg Jets coach Claude Noel stops just short of terming this week as the make-or-break point of his club's schedule.

"I don't like to put it in those terms, 'make-or-break,' because it is black-and-white," Noel said after the Jets' morning skate, "but I think we know where we stand."

The Jets (26-25-6) begin a busy week at home tonight at against the New York Islanders simultaneously trying to catch the Florida Panthers for the Southeast Division lead and the Toronto Maple Leafs for eighth place in the Eastern Conference while fending off the likes of the Islanders, Montreal Canadiens and Tampa Bay Lightning attempting to overtake the Jets.

Tonight's meeting with the Islanders begins a stretch of nine of 10 games at the MTS Centre for the Jets, who will visit Minnesota on Thursday night before settling in Winnipeg until well into March.

"It's going to be an important time," Noel said. "If we can duplicate the month of December, we might help ourselves a bit."

Winnipeg has won two of its last three games to remain within striking distance in the Eastern Conference hunt, but an 8-5 loss at Pittsburgh this past Saturday afternoon left Noel exasperated. One of the casualties of Saturday's performance was center Nik Antropov, whom Noel has demoted to the fourth line. Antropov has gone nine games without a goal and struggled defensively against the Penguins. Alexander Burmistrov will take Antropov's spot on the Jets' second line with Evander Kane and Kyle Wellwood.

Ondrej Pavelec will start in net for the Jets.

Here are the projected lines and pairings for Winnipeg:

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

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

Ondrej Pavelec
Chris Mason
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Posted On Tuesday, 02.14.2012 / 2:49 PM

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

Islanders trying to hang on at edge of playoff race

WINNIPEG -- If the New York Islanders are not within striking distance of a playoff spot, they are at least hovering closely enough to the playoff line and making sure that meaningful games are a part of the second half of their season.

Having held a record above .500 after Feb. 1 for the first time since the 2007-08 season, the Islanders (now 23-24-8) have gone 10-7-2 since New Year's Day to creep to within eight points of the eighth-place Toronto Maple Leafs in the Eastern Conference chase. Holding a game in hand on the Leafs, the Islanders begin a critical week tonight in Winnipeg before journeying to St. Louis for a Thursday date with the Blues. The Islanders have earned points in six of their last eight games and return to a building where they took a 3-2 shootout win against the Jets on Dec. 20.

"We have a chance to gain ground," leading scorer John Tavares said after the Islanders' morning skate at the MTS Centre.

Michael Grabner and his Islanders teammates expect a tough test against the Jets, who are engaged in their own playoff race.

"They're going to come out hard," Grabner said of the Jets. "Everybody needs the points right now."

Evgeni Nabokov, who is 7-3-0 in his past 10 games, is expected to start for the Islanders.

Here are the projected lines and pairings for the Islanders:

Matt Moulson - John Tavares - Kyle Okposo
Michael Grabner - Frans Nielsen - PA Parenteau
Matt Martin - Josh Bailey - Nino Niederreiter
Jay Pandolfo - Tim Wallace - Brian Rolston

Mark Streit - Steve Staios
Mark Eaton - Milan Jurcina
Aaron Ness - Andrew MacDonald

Evgeni Nabokov
Al Montoya
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Posted On Monday, 02.13.2012 / 3:48 PM

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

Noel trying to get Jets 'over the hump'

WINNIPEG -- Winnipeg Jets coach Claude Noel spent his day off Sunday stewing over his club's 8-5 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins on Saturday afternoon.

"It was really disappointing for me," Noel said Monday. "That was a hard game to watch, coach, to be a part of. I was really disappointed. It was not a good plane ride home."

Typically a defensively sound team that struggles to score, the Jets posted five goals against the Penguins but lost in trying to keep up with the Penguins in a run-and-gun affair.

"I didn't like the game for a lot of reasons," said Noel. "I wasn't quite sure what we were doing. I didn't get it there."

But Noel’s mood had brightened by the time the Jets reconvened at the MTS Centre on Monday morning for a lengthy -- and animated -- practice session. The Jets who trail the Florida Panthers for the Southeast Division lead by seven points and the eighth-place Toronto Maple Leafs by four points, will host the New York Islanders on Tuesday.

The Washington Capitals sit in ninth place, three points ahead of the 10th-place Jets. The Capitals and Panthers each have two games in hand on Winnipeg, while the Maple Leafs have played one fewer game than the Jets. With two weeks to go before the NHL trade deadline, and the Panthers and Capitals threatening to pull away, the Jets do not have much of a luxury of allowing themselves time to resolve their problems.

"It is perplexing to a degree," Noel said of the Jets' performance in Pittsburgh, "but I think I understand it, so I'm trying to solve it."

If the Jets are to continue their playoff push, they will need a strong performance at home this week. After Thursday's game at Minnesota, the Jets will remain in Winnipeg for an eight-game homestand that will span nearly three weeks. After meeting the Wild, the Jets will play 11 of 13 games at the MTS Centre.

However, despite having won two of their past three games, the Jets have not been able to cross into the Eastern Conference's top eight, nor have they been able to assemble any semblance of consistency since their franchise-record 10-3-1 mark in December.

"The disappointing thing for me is that we're at the hump," Noel said, "and we can't get over the hump. I keep trying to push us over the hump. But we can't, and that is the frustrating thing for me, trying to get over that hump, and that is the challenge."
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Posted On Tuesday, 02.07.2012 / 2:24 PM

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

Toronto penalty kill perfect since last trip to Winnipeg

WINNIPEG -- The Toronto Maple Leafs roll into Winnipeg with three consecutive wins in hand and a real chance to make further headway in the Eastern Conference playoff race against the Jets.

The Leafs dispatched the Edmonton Oilers, 6-3, before heading to Winnipeg, where they did not hold a morning skate today. In beating Edmonton, the seventh-place Leafs climbed to within two points of the fifth-place Pittsburgh Penguins and own a 6-3-1 mark over their past 10 games.

The once-maligned Toronto penalty kill continues to shine and has not allowed a power-play goal since the Jets struck twice on the man-advantage when the teams met at the MTS Centre on Dec. 31. The Leafs have killed off 22 consecutive opposing power plays over the ensuing 15 games. The Toronto penalty kill received a night off against the Oilers in the Leafs' first game since March 28, 2001 in which neither the Leafs nor their opponent registered a penalty.

Jonas Gustavsson is expected to start for the Maple Leafs for the first time in four games.

Here are the projected lines and pairings for Toronto:

Joffrey Lupul - Tyler Bozak - Phil Kessel
Clarke MacArthur - Mikhail Grabovski - Nikolai Kulemin
Matthew Lombardi - Tim Connolly - Joey Crabb
Mike Brown - David Steckel - Colby Armstrong
 
Carl Gunnarsson - Dion Phaneuf
John-Michael Liles - Cody Franson
Jake Gardiner - Luke Schenn
 
Jonas Gustavsson
James Reimer
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Posted On Tuesday, 02.07.2012 / 2:22 PM

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

Jets get Kane back for brief home stop against Leafs

WINNIPEG -- When the Winnipeg Jets last hosted the Toronto Maple Leafs on New Year's Eve, they held a grip on spot among the Eastern Conference's top eight clubs.

However, since the Jets (24-24-6) closed out December with a 10-3-1 run, the best month in franchise history, Winnipeg's playoff aspirations have taken several blows. The Jets managed just four wins in 13 outings in January, and have begun February with two losses in three games, including 3-0 to the Montreal Canadiens this past weekend. The Jets scored just five goals during a six-game road trip that just concluded, and have had to rely on goaltenders Ondrej Pavelec and Chris Mason even more heavily than usual.

"Right now, there is a small margin for error," coach Claude Noel said. "There is not much room for mistakes in our game. When you put that kind of stress on [yourself], it wears on you."

Now the Jets return to Winnipeg for a one-game pit stop against the Maple Leafs before heading back to the East Coast for road meetings with the Washington Capitals and Pittsburgh Penguins. Two points against the Maple Leafs tonight is crucial for the Jets.

The eighth-place Ottawa Senators are seven points ahead of the Jets, while the Leafs are eight points ahead. Capturing the Southeast Division might be the Jets' best hope, but Winnipeg now sits five points behind the Southeast Division-leading Florida Panthers, who play at Washington tonight. The Florida-Washington head-to-head matchup means that the Southeast Division leader will own at least 60 points after tonight.

Winnipeg received some good news that leading goal scorer Evander Kane should return to the lineup after a concussion led to a seven-game absence. Kane is expected to skate on the left side of a line with Nik Antropov and Kyle Wellwood.

"Sometimes when you're out it enables you to reflect and bring some enthusiasm to the game," Noel said. "I think he will be enthusiastic about playing and being back with his teammates again. He will be a welcome addition to us."

Tim Stapleton will miss his eight straight game due to injury, but his return is expected to be soon.

Pavelec will start in net.

Here are the projected lines and pairings for Winnipeg:

Andrew Ladd - Bryan Little - Blake Wheeler
Evander Kane - Nik Antropov - Kyle Wellwood
Tanner Glass - Jim Slater - Chris Thorburn
Antti Miettinen - Aaron Gagnon - Alexander Burmistrov

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

Ondrej Pavelec
Chris Mason
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Posted On Tuesday, 01.31.2012 / 1:53 PM

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

Jets hope for reversal of fortunes after ASG break

PHILADELPHIA -- The Winnipeg Jets returned to the ice Monday afternoon with a spirited practice in Philadelphia that stretched nearly two hours.

The Jets (22-22-6), who have lost three consecutive games, will face the Philadelphia Flyers on Tuesday night at Wells Fargo Center. The Jets have taken both meetings against Philadelphia this season and have scored a combined 15 goals in the two contests.

However, a dreadful 3-8-1 January record threatens to doom the club's playoff chances, and the Jets desperately need to start amassing wins if they are to close the five-point gap that separates them from the Florida Panthers and Washington Capitals. The Panthers and Capitals both hold two games in-hand on the Jets, as well.

"It's down to business now," center Bryan Little said of the Jets' remaining 32 games.

The Jets play seven of their next nine games away from home before they begin an eight-game homestand in the second half of February. Coach Claude Noel cut short the club's morning skate at the Wells Fargo Center after his club pleased him with a crisp session.

"I thought the energy was pretty good this morning," Noel said. "Certainly the execution was better than it was yesterday."

Noel expects to see a refreshed Jets team and believes that the All-Star break allowed some of this charges to re-evaluate their recent play and re-focus going forward.

"It will be interesting to see where we're at mentally, physically and how we go," Noel said.

Winnipeg will be without forwards Evander Kane, Alexander Burmistrov and Tim Stapleton. Defenseman Dustin Byfuglien, out since Dec. 23 with a knee injury, accompanied the club on its trip that will continue Thursday night at Tampa Bay.

Winnipeg also added some reinforcements from their AHL affiliate St. John’s in forwards Aaron Gagnon and Spencer Machacek.

Ondrej Pavelec will get the start in net.

Here are the projected lines and pairings for Winnipeg:

JETS

Andrew Ladd - Bryan Little - Blake Wheeler
Eric Fehr - Nik Antropov - Kyle Wellwood
Tanner Glass - Jim Slater - Chris Thorburn
Antti Miettinen - Aaron Gagnon - Spencer Machacek

Tobias Enstrom - Ron Hainsey
Johnny Oduya - Zach Bogosian
Mark Stuart - Randy Jones

Ondrej Pavelec
Chris Mason
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Posted On Tuesday, 01.31.2012 / 1:51 PM

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

Jagr returns to the lineup for Flyers

PHILADELPHIA -- The Philadelphia Flyers begin their march toward the playoffs in earnest Tuesday night against the Winnipeg Jets, and they'll have one of their top players back from injury.

The Flyers (29-14-5) are just three points behind the Eastern Conference-leading New York Rangers and begin a three-game homestand this week that continues Thursday night when the Nashville Predators visit.

Jaromir Jagr, who missed the Flyers' past two games because of a groin injury, will return to the Philadelphia lineup.

"It's always good to get guys back on the ice," coach Peter Laviolette said.

Jagr shooed away any notions that overtraining this past offseason would have caused his groin issues

"Compared to what we did in Russia, this is nothing for me," Jagr said, drawing laughs from the assembled media.

Ilya Bryzgalov is expected to start for the Flyers. Winnipeg has taken both games against the Flyers this season. The Jets rolled up nine goals when the clubs last met in Philadelphia -- a 9-8 loss for the Flyers.

Here are the projected lines and pairings for Philadelphia:

FLYERS

Scott Hartnell - Claude Giroux - Jaromir Jagr
Wayne Simmonds - Sean Couturier - Matt Read
Tom Sestito - Maxime Talbot - Jakub Voracek
Jody Shelley - Brayden Schenn - Ben Holmstrom

Kimmo Timonen - Braydon Coburn
Marc-Andre Bourdon - Matt Carle
Erik Gustafsson - Andrej Meszaros

Ilya Bryzgalov
Sergei Bobrovsky
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Posted On Sunday, 01.22.2012 / 2:13 PM

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

Panthers finally snap road hex

WINNIPEG -- On Saturday night for the first time since early December, the Florida Panthers could leave a visiting building for the airport with two points packed away.

The Panthers' 4-3 shootout win over the Winnipeg Jets at the MTS Centre finally ended an eight-game road drought for the Panthers. Florida had not won in an opponent's building since taking a 2-0 decision at Boston back on Dec. 8. That win in Boston was the Panthers' 10th road victory of the season before their long 0-4-4  tailspin unfolded.

"[Strong road play was] something that we really prided ourselves in at the start of the year," Panthers coach Kevin Dineen said. "We had a strong road record, we played hard on the road, and it's something that we talked about before the season."

Given the circumstances, while the Florida dressing room fully acknowledged that the process lacked beauty and regretted surrendering a point to a division rival, the two points that the club carried back to South Florida were all that really mattered.

"We just needed a way to get a win, no matter how it happened," said Panthers goaltender Scott Clemmensen, whose 41-save evening helped the Panthers to steal a point in Winnipeg.

The Panthers are jostling with the Jets and Washington Capitals for control of the Southeast Division, which would help them avoid the dogfight for the seventh and eighth spots in the Eastern Conference playoff race that continues to unfold.

"We've got to keep pace with everyone," Clemmensen said. "We've got teams in front of us, we've got teams behind us, including [the Jets]. We had a good start to the season, but we can't just float on that."
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Posted On Sunday, 01.22.2012 / 1:09 PM

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

Just as Jets get Bogosian back, Kane goes out

WINNIPEG -- Zach Bogosian and Evander Kane passed like ships in the night for the Winnipeg Jets on Saturday.

The Jets welcomed Bogosian back to their blue line after he missed five games with a lower-body injury. However, the Jets lost the services of Kane, who missed Saturday's 4-3 shootout loss to the visiting Florida Panthers with a concussion.

Kane's timetable remains unknown, and he will join defenseman Dustin Byfuglien and center Tim Stapleton as injured Jets. Byfuglien has not played since Dec. 23, and Winnipeg has lost 216 man-games to injury so far this season.

But coach Claude Noel wasted little time easing Bogosian back into the line-up. The 21-year-old logged a team-high 25:19 of ice time, including more than six minutes on the power play, and set a new career high with nine shots against the Panthers.

"I felt good," Bogosian said. "I got thrown right in the mix there, but, you know, it's good just to get the momentum going. You know, whenever you play a lot, you get into kind of a groove, and everything felt good out there."

While the Jets squandered an opportunity to apply further pressure in the Eastern Conference standings on the tired Panthers and Washington Capitals, Bogosian viewed the outcome with a half-full perspective.

"I think that anytime you battle back [from 2-0 and 3-2 deficits], it's kind of more of a point gained," Bogosian said. "We did show that we can battle back and we didn't give up right until the end."
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Posted On Saturday, 01.21.2012 / 1:38 PM

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

Bogosian back, but Kane out with concussion for Jets

WINNIPEG – The one-step-forward, one-step-backward scenario continues to play itself out on the Winnipeg Jets’ injury front.

The Jets (22-20-5) confirmed that defenseman Zach Bogosian would return for their game tonight against the Florida Panthers at MTS Centre. Bogosian missed five games after exiting the Jets’ Jan. 10 contest at Boston with a lower-body injury.

However, the Jets received a major loss to their top forward line with the news that left wing Evander Kane has a concussion. Kane leads the Jets with 18 goals, and his prognosis remains to be seen for the immediate future.  Eric Fehr will slide into Kane’s slot on the Jets’ top line.

Center Tim Stapleton will miss the game tonight with an undisclosed injury as well. The Jets also recalled center Patrice Cormier from their American Hockey League affiliate, the St. John’s IceCaps, and he should play tonight.

The Jets are already without defenseman Dustin Byfuglien, and his return date remains unknown. The Jets assigned defenseman Derek Meech, who has missed most of the season with a knee injury, to St. John’s this morning.

Ondrej Pavelec will face the Panthers in net tonight.

Here are the projected lines and pairings for Winnipeg:

JETS

Eric FehrBryan LittleBlake Wheeler
Andrew LaddNik AntropovKyle Wellwood
Tanner GlassJim SlaterChris Thorburn
Alexander BurmistrovPatrice CormierAntti Miettinen

Tobias EnstromRon Hainsey
Johnny OduyaZach Bogosian
Mark StuartRandy Jones

Ondrej Pavelec
Chris Mason
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Posted On Saturday, 01.21.2012 / 1:30 PM

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

Struggling Panthers hoping to end skid, hold off Jets

WINNIPEG – The Florida Panthers made it to Winnipeg after their snowy ordeal in Chicago, where they lost 3-1 to the Blackhawks.

The Panthers (21-15-10) did not hold a morning skate at MTS Centre before meeting the Jets tonight. Coach Kevin Dineen’s club arrived in Winnipeg desperately trying to fend off the Jets and the Washington Capitals for the Southeast Division’s coveted top spot.

After a strong start to their season, the Panthers have hit major turbulence during the past month and have picked up just three wins in their last 13 games. Florida’s skid has allowed the Capitals and the Jets to climb into the thick of the Southeast Division race after slow starts.

In their loss to the Blackhawks, the Panthers regained the services of forwards Sean Bergenheim, Jack Skille and Scottie Upshall, who had all been sidelined with long-term injuries. However, Florida is without defenseman Ed Jovanovski (hand) on their blue line, while goaltender Jacob Markstrom and left wing Marco Sturm are also out with injuries.

Jose Theodore is expected to start for the Panthers.

Here are the projected lines and pairings for Florida:

PANTHERS

Tomas Fleischmann - Stephen Weiss - Kris Versteeg
Mikael Samuelsson - Marcel Goc - Tomas Kopecky
Scottie Upshall - John Madden - Matt Bradley
Krys Barch - Shawn Matthias - Jack Skille

Jason Garrison - Brian Campbell
Keaton Ellerby - Erik Gudbranson
Dmitry Kulikov - Mike Weaver

Jose Theodore
Scott Clemmensen
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Posted On Friday, 01.20.2012 / 1:18 PM

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

Jets not far off division lead despite recent struggles

WINNIPEG -- Against all mathematical logic, the Winnipeg Jets are somehow within three points of third place in the Eastern Conference.

A 4-1 win over the Buffalo Sabres on Thursday night earned the Jets their third victory of the month, but a 3-6-0 skid in January has taken much of the luster off a franchise-best month in December in which the Jets spun off a 10-3-1 mark. The Jets' effort in December had them sitting in sixth place in the Eastern Conference at one point before they tumbled down to their current 10th-place slot.

Thursday's win pulled the Jets to 49 points, putting them just three points behind the third-place Washington Capitals and eighth-place Florida Panthers. After meeting Chicago, the Panthers will visit Winnipeg on Saturday night in a game that suddenly has major implications for the races unfolding in the Southeast Division as well as the Eastern Conference.

"It's a big game for us," Jets goaltender Ondrej Pavelec said of beating Buffalo, "but now every game is going to be like that. It's going to be kind [of like] playoff games."

With Buffalo behind them, the Jets now must turn their attention toward the Panthers. Saturday's game will be the Jets' last home date before a six-game road trip that will include visits with the New York Rangers and Philadelphia Flyers. With just seven wins in 23 road outings this year, home games have taken on an even greater importance for the Jets.

"They're not too far in front us," Jets captain Andrew Ladd said of the Panthers. "So they'll definitely be in our sights. Every game is huge right now."
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Posted On Friday, 01.20.2012 / 1:15 PM

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

Sabres still seeking answers as road skid hits 12

WINNIPEG -- If the answer to their problems are found in the Buffalo Sabres' dressing room, coach Lindy Ruff's club has yet to find it.

A 4-1 loss to the Winnipeg Jets on Thursday night hammered one more nail into the Sabres' rapidly closing playoff hopes. Buffalo now sits nine points behind the eighth-place Florida Panthers in the Eastern Conference playoff race and faces a meeting with the St. Louis Blues on Saturday night that threatens to extend its road losing streak to 12 games. If the Sabres are not out of the playoff race, they are at least precariously close to seeing their season come completely undone.

If one shift summed up the Sabres' night, it was a second-period failed penalty kill on which the Jets scored the game-winning goal. On a power play set up by a puck that clipped Drew Stafford on his way to the Buffalo bench and cost the Sabres a bench minor, Patrick Kaleta took a shot off his foot moments before Tobias Enstrom fired a puck past Buffalo goaltender Ryan Miller to break a 1-1 tie.

Kaleta's night ended with the goal as he hobbled to the Buffalo bench.

"Well, he couldn't play," Ruff said. "The X-rays were negative from blocking the shot, but he can't walk right now, so it doesn't look good for him."

Everything from a firesale at the trade deadline to replacing Ruff has been proposed by Buffalo media and fans, but no answers have been found so far. Just a few days after Miller shot down the idea of a trade helping the Sabres, defenseman Tyler Myers concurred.

"No," Myers said of whether a trade or a coaching change would jolt the Sabres back into contention. "That's not the problem. Everyone in this room believes in each other."

Whatever the answer may be, the Sabres need to find it fast if they are to have any chance of salvaging their season.

"It's just a matter of working through this," Myers said, "but the clock is ticking. We need to work quick."
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Posted On Thursday, 01.19.2012 / 2:42 PM

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

Jets return home needing to collect points

WINNIPEG -- Which Winnipeg Jets team will show up when the Buffalo Sabres visit the MTS Centre tonight remains to be seen.

Will it be the Jets club that spun off a 10-3-1 record in December, with nine of those wins coming on home ice? Or will it be the team that owns a 2-6-0 record in January, the most recent loss a dismal 5-1 showing at New Jersey on Tuesday night?

The Jets (21-20-5) sit in 10th place in the Eastern Conference, five points out of a playoff spot, and desperately need to collect points at home this week. After tonight's visit from the Sabres, the Florida Panthers visit Winnipeg on Friday before the Jets play eight of their next nine games on the road over the next three weeks.

The Jets received some good news on Thursday with the return of Blake Wheeler to the lineup. Wheeler missed two games after taking a puck to his throat last Saturday at home against New Jersey. Defensemen Zach Bogosian, Dustin Byfuglien and Derek Meech all remain out with injuries.

Ondrej Pavelec will return to the Winnipeg net after veteran Chris Mason received consecutive starts on the Jets' two-game road trip through Ottawa and New Jersey.

Here are the projected lines and pairings for Winnipeg:

JETS
Evander Kane - Bryan Little - Blake Wheeler
Andrew Ladd - Nik Antropov - Kyle Wellwood
Tanner Glass - Jim Slater - Chris Thorburn
Antti Miettinen - Alexander Burmistrov - Eric Fehr

Tobias Enstrom - Ron Hainsey
Mark Stuart - Randy Jones
Johnny Oduya - Mark Flood

Ondrej Pavelec
Chris Mason
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Posted On Thursday, 01.19.2012 / 2:40 PM

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

Sabres aim to snap 10-game road losing streak

WINNIPEG -- A 10-game road losing streak has left the Buffalo Sabres' season barely clinging to life.

What has been a disastrous week for the Sabres (19-22-5) continues tonight in Winnipeg. The Sabres followed a 5-0 loss to the Detroit Red Wings with a 6-2 loss to the Chicago Blackhawks before heading to Winnipeg having lost three consecutive games. With just two wins in January and in the midst of a seven-game road trip, the Sabres are nine points behind the eighth-place Florida Panthers in the Eastern Conference race.

Injures have battered the Buffalo lineup. The Sabres’ blue line is missing three regulars in Christian Ehrhoff, Brayden McNabb and Robyn Regehr. Up front, Tyler Ennis and Colin Stuart both have missed 14 games.

The Sabres did not hold a morning skate in Winnipeg, but Ryan Miller is expected to return to the Buffalo net.

Here are the projected lines and pairings for Buffalo:

SABRES
Thomas Vanek - Jochen Hecht - Jason Pominville
Drew Stafford - Derek Roy - Nathan Gerbe
Luke Adam - Brad Boyes - Ville Leino
Matt Ellis - Paul Gaustad - Patrick Kaleta

Andrej Sekera - Tyler Myers
T.J. Brennan - Jordan Leopold
Mike Weber - Marc-Andre Gragnani

Ryan Miller
Jhonas Enroth
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Posted On Friday, 01.13.2012 / 1:28 PM

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

No sophomore slump for All-Star pick Couture

WINNIPEG -- San Jose Sharks coach Todd McLellan will have company in Ottawa later this month.

Sharks center Logan Couture, a former standout with the Ontario Hockey League's Ottawa 67's,will join McLellan for the 2012 Tim Hortons NHL All-Star game in Ottawa on Jan. 29.

Couture's 18 goals lead all Sharks scorers this season, and he celebrated his ticket to Ottawa with a game-winning goal against the Winnipeg Jets in a 2-0 win on Thursday night. Couture set a franchise record last season for goals by a rookie with 32. On a roster packed with veteran stars like Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau, it is Couture who will be en route to Ottawa.

"I still find it hard to believe that he is as young as he is," McLellan said of his 22-year-old star. "Give him credit for establishing himself in the National Hockey League and maintaining it."

Couture's nomination to the event comes two days after McLellan cinched his trip to Ottawa by virtue of the Sharks having owned the Western Conference’s best points percentage as of Jan. 9.

"There's nobody in our room debating whether Logan Couture is an All-Star, not one bit," McLellan said. "He deserves to go to that game, and he will represent our organization, and even more importantly, our city."
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Posted On Friday, 01.13.2012 / 1:22 PM

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

Noel waiting to see how Jets respond to adversity

WINNIPEG -- The Winnipeg Jets have officially hit turbulence.

Just 1-4-0 to start 2012, the Jets followed up a third-period collapse on Tuesday night in Boston with a 2-0 home loss to the San Jose Sharks on Thursday night. With eight of their next 10 games on the road, a club with just six wins in 21 road games this season faces a difficult path over the next month that will determine whether it is a legitimate playoff contender. Last season's second-half collapse doomed a promising start by their predecessors, the Atlanta Thrashers, and that memory remains fresh in the Winnipeg dressing room this season.

"Certainly we've hit a bump in the road now," Jets coach Claude Noel said. "This is going to be interesting to see how we do. It will be a good task for us, a good test for us, because we're going to face adversity straight-square in the face.

"For me, it's going to be more about dealing with the morale of the team now," Noel continued. "The team isn't going to be feeling very good. It's one of the issues that we're going to have to deal with."

Injuries to defensemen Zach Bogosian and Dustin Byfuglien have left the Winnipeg blue line struggling to generate much in the way of offense. The Jets will also be attempting to save their season against elite competition that is digging in for the Eastern Conference race, and Noel is all too aware of that reality.

"What happens at the 40-game mark is that you can see the teams with experience, they have winning experience, and our team doesn't have that experience," Noel said. "Somehow we have to find a way to get ourselves over the hump and re-energize and re-charge ourselves. It's a tough task."
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Posted On Thursday, 01.12.2012 / 2:34 PM

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

Jets hope return home cures recent woes

WINNIPEG -- When the Winnipeg Jets last skated before their fans at the MTS Centre, life was good.

The Jets (20-17-5), who meet the San Jose Sharks tonight at home, finished a packed December home schedule with New Year's Eve win that concluded a 9-2-1 mark at the MTS Centre for the month.

But then the Jets embarked on a 1-3-0 four-game road trip in which they were throttled in their three losses. On Tuesday night in Boston, the Bruins stomped the Jets in the third period in which the visiting club blew a second-intermission lead and lost 5-3.

Defenseman Zach Bogosian and checking winger Tanner Glass exited Tuesday's loss with injuries. Bogosian will not dress for tonight's game. Glass is questionable, as is Alexander Burmistrov, who has missed Winnipeg's past two games due to injury. Dustin Byfuglien and Derek Meech remain out with injuries.

Goaltender Ondrej Pavelec is expected to start in net for the Jets. Here is a look at the projected lineup for Winnipeg:

Evander Kane - Bryan Little - Blake Wheeler
Andrew Ladd - Nik Antropov - Eric Fehr
Tanner Glass - Jim Slater - Antti Miettinen
Kyle Wellwood - Alexander Burmistrov - Chris Thorburn

Ron Hainsey - Tobias Enstrom
Mark Stuart - Randy Jones
Mark Flood - Johnny Oduya

Ondrej Pavelec
Chris Mason


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Posted On Thursday, 01.12.2012 / 2:34 PM

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

McLellan seeking better effort from Sharks

WINNIPEG -- A 5-4 shootout loss on Tuesday night at Minnesota figures to leave the San Jose Sharks a hungry bunch leading into tonight's date with the Winnipeg Jets.

The shootout loss ended the Sharks' four-game win streak as they started a four-game road trip that continues against the Jets before winding its way to Columbus for a game with the Blue Jackets on Saturday.

"We were actually quite disappointed with a number of our players," Sharks coach Todd McLellan said. "We didn't get the effort that we needed.

"We'll probably talk about a 10-minute game and a 50-minute game," McLellan explained when asked what he expects from the Jets. "We'll have to be on our toes early. I think they're going to be an energized team."

Antti Niemi, who has started 15 of the Sharks' past 16 games, is expected to be in net for San Jose. Ryan Clowe is expected to skate for the Sharks tonight after being banged up in Minnesota. The Sharks will be without defensemen Jim Vandermeer and Colin White as well as Martin Havlat.

McLellan also indicated that there could "potentially" be lineup changes after Tuesday's game. Here is a look at the projected lineup for San Jose:

Patrick Marleau - Joe Thornton - Joe Pavelski
Ryan Clowe - Logan Couture - Benn Ferriero
Jamie McGinn - Michal Handzus - Torrey Mitchell
Brad Winchester - Andrew Desjardins - Tommy Wingels

Dan Boyle - Marc-Edouard Vlasic
Jason Demers - Brent Burns
Douglas Murray - Justin Braun

Antti Niemi
Thomas Greiss
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Posted On Saturday, 01.07.2012 / 1:29 PM

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

Jets need improvement away from home

BUFFALO – Whether the Winnipeg Jets can resolve their road woes figures to go a long way toward determining just exactly where they fit in the Eastern Conference playoff mix.

The Jets will hit the halfway point of their season Saturday night when they visit the First Niagara Center to meet the Buffalo Sabres. They will do so fresh off consecutive losses in Montreal and Toronto in which they were outscored by an 11-3 margin. Those losses come right after the Jets had outlined much better road play as a key goal for the second half of the season.

“We’ve got to find a way,” captain Andrew Ladd said after a 4-0 loss Thursday night to the Leafs.

Those two losses may have taken a bit of the luster off a franchise-best month of December in which they ran off a 9-2-1 mark in 12 games at MTS Centre. The Jets’ 14 home wins are third-most in the League, tying them with the likes of Chicago, Washington and Boston.

“You’re always going to be a bit more comfortable in your own arena,” injured center Bryan Little said. “It definitely helps with the energy.”

On the road, however, the Jets just 26th in the NHL with a 5-10-4 road mark. Away from Winnipeg, the Jets have only two wins since Nov. 3 when they had just won their third consecutive game in the midst of a seven-game road trip.

“I think that it’s just a matter of trying to bring that energy and that work ethic to the road,” Little said. “It’s hard. You play in front of your own fans and you’ve got 15,000 loud fans right on your back. We’ve got to find a way to play like that on the road, too.”

With seven of their remaining 11 games in January on the road, the Jets will need to rectify their road difficulties in order to mount a serious push toward a playoff spot. Veteran goaltender Chris Mason believes that a much more concerted approach toward road hockey is needed.

“We have to sit down and look at ourselves,” Mason said.

After an optional practice on Friday afternoon at the First Niagara Center, coach Claude Noel attempted to frame the Jets’ road woes as one more obstacle that needs to be addressed in the long NHL season.

“To me, there is no panic, there is no crisis, there is no nothing,” Noel said. “You guys can determine that. This is all part of the season. If you look at it, we’ve played 40 games. You’ve got 82 that you’ve got to play. This is how the ebb and flow of the season happens.”

Rather than focus solely on the road problems, perhaps the Jets can take solace that they are still in the playoff mix even with their poor road play, to hear Noel’s perspective.

“How do we manage this?” Noel asked rhetorically. “Is it adversity? How do we deal with it? Those are the challenges, and that’s great. That’s why you have the big rewards when you do make the playoffs, and if you can win in the end, because you invest so much.”

“There is no manual,” Noel continued. “There is no right way. There is no wrong way. It is, ‘Does it work?’” That’s what our job is, and that’s what makes the job really interesting.”

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Posted On Saturday, 12.31.2011 / 1:04 PM

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

Bozak game-time decision for Leafs

WINNIPEG – The Toronto Maple Leafs arrive in Winnipeg to meet the Jets on Saturday night while lugging a two-game losing streak in the midst of an inconsistent December.

The Leafs blew a two-goal lead in the third period Thursday night at Carolina and lost 4-3 in overtime to the Hurricanes. The Leafs have a 4-5-3 December mark and are in a four-way tie with the Jets, New Jersey Devils and Ottawa Senators at 41 points in the Eastern Conference.

The Leafs did not hold a morning skate, but center Tyler Bozak fell awkwardly in the Leafs’ afternoon practice Friday at the MTS Centre and will be a game-time decision on Toronto’s top line. Colby Armstrong, Mike Brown, Mike Komisarek and John-Michael Liles are all out with injuries. Philippe Dupuis and Matthew Lombardi could be possibilities for the Leafs.

James Reimer will start in net for the Leafs in front of family and friends in his native Manitoba. Reimer’s start will be his sixth consecutive nod and 11th in the Leafs’ 13 games this month.

After Saturday night, the Leafs return home for four-game homestand that begins this coming Tuesday against Tampa Bay. The Leafs begin the new calendar year with nine of 10 games at the Air Canada Centre.

Here are the projected lines and pairings for Toronto:

MAPLE LEAFS

Joffrey LupulTyler BozakPhil Kessel
Clarke MacArthurTim ConnollyNazem Kadri
Nikolai KuleminMikhail GrabovskiMatt Frattin
Darryl BoyceDavid SteckelJoey Crabb

Dion PhaneufCarl Gunnarsson
Luke SchennKeith Aulie
Cody FransonJake Gardiner

James Reimer
Jonas Gustavsson
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Posted On Thursday, 12.29.2011 / 2:17 PM

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

Bernier could make appearance in Kings' net

WINNIPEG -- The Los Angeles Kings look to build on their two-game winning streak tonight against the Winnipeg Jets.

The Kings (18-14-5) are 3-0-1 under new coach Darryl Sutter and shut out the Chicago Blackhawks on Wednesday at the United Center. Jonathan Quick's 32-save shutout was his League-high fifth of the season, but Jonathan Bernier is a possibility to make his first appearance since Dec. 17. With 41 points, the Kings are ninth in the Western Conference.

The Kings did not hold a morning skate after arriving late from Chicago. After tonight's game, the Kings return home for a six-game homestand that begins Saturday night against Vancouver.

Simon Gagne (upper body) and Scott Parse (lower body) are not available for the Kings.

Here are the projected forward lines and defense pairings for Los Angeles:

Kyle Clifford - Anze Kopitar - Dustin Brown
Andrei Loktionov - Mike Richards - Trevor Lewis
Dustin Penner - Jarret Stoll - Justin Williams
Brad Richardson - Colin Fraser - Kevin Westgarth

Drew Doughty - Rob Scuderi
Willie Mitchell - Slava Voynov
Jack Johnson - Matt Greene

Jonathan Bernier likely will start in goal, with Jonathan Quick the backup.

For more on tonight's game, check out the preview here.
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Posted On Thursday, 12.29.2011 / 2:00 PM

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

December run has Jets in playoff position

WINNIPEG -- The Winnipeg Jets wind down their long month at home with a date tonight against the Los Angeles Kings at the MTS Centre.

The Jets (17-14-5) have played on home ice for 10 of their 12 games this month and will wrap up their home stretch against the Kings and a New Year's Eve meeting with the Toronto Maple Leafs. The Jets' 7-2-1 run at home this month has fueled their climb up the Eastern Conference standings. Tuesday's 4-1 win at Colorado pushed Winnipeg into a playoff spot for the first time this season. The Jets now sit in eighth place with 39 points, just two points behind the sixth-place New Jersey Devils and six points behind the Florida Panthers, who lead the Southeast Division.

Jets coach Claude Noel does not expect an easy evening against the Kings. Defenseman Dustin Byfuglien will miss his second consecutive game due to an injury, and Bryan Little will not dress for his fifth consecutive game. Center Jim Slater is also a game-time decision, so the Jets recalled center Patrice Cormier from their American League affiliate, the St. John's IceCaps, as a precautionary move.

"This won't be an easy game for us," Noel said. "We do realize that this is their third [game] in four nights. We're going to have to find a way to make them work. But if they've got the puck, we’ll be doing most of the work trying to get it off them."

Noel will give goaltender Ondrej Pavelec a rare night off and start veteran Chris Mason. The start will be only the fourth for Mason since Nov. 25. Pavelec turned in another stout performance on Tuesday against the Avalanche, but Noel said that the Czech netminder needs a night off at some point.

"If Pavelec continues to play the way he plays," Noel said, "when would you ever take him out? He'd end up playing in 82 games. You could never justify taking him out, so you have to manage the minutes."

Here are the projected lines and pairings for Winnipeg.

JETS

Evander Kane - Alexander Burmistrov - Blake Wheeler
Andrew Ladd - Nik Antropov - Kyle Wellwood
Tanner Glass - Jim Slater - Antti Miettinen
Eric Fehr - Tim Stapleton - Chris Thorburn

Mark Stuart - Zach Bogosian
Ron Hainsey - Johnny Oduya
Mark Flood - Tobias Enstrom

Chris Mason
Ondrej Pavelec
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Posted On Monday, 12.26.2011 / 4:40 PM

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

Jets prepare to head out for rare road game

WINNIPEG -- The Winnipeg Jets held a Boxing Day morning practice session before doing something they have not done very often lately -- packing their bags and heading to the airport for a road game.

The Jets will visit the Colorado Avalanche on Tuesday night in what will be only their second game away from the MTS Centre since Nov. 26. The Jets' only foray out of town was a quick one-night trip to Detroit on Dec. 10 in which the Red Wings throttled them, 7-1, at Joe Louis Arena.

Coach Claude Noel's club will finish December having played 12 of 14 games on home ice in the month. The Jets have been able to fuel their climb up the Eastern Conference standings via that abundance of home ice in front of the always-raucous MTS Centre crowd. The Jets have posted a 7-3-1 December mark so far. Included in those seven wins have been home wins over the likes of Phoenix, Boston and Minnesota. Only Boston, Detroit and St. Louis (13 wins apiece) have been more successful on home ice this season than the 12-6-1 Jets.

But the road has been a struggle for the Jets, who are 4-8-4 entering Tuesday. Only Anaheim, Carolina and Columbus have fewer road wins. The Jets will need to rectify their road problems, as they face a January slate in which they will play nine of 13 games away from Winnipeg, with the likes of Boston, the New York Rangers and Philadelphia serving as hosts.

Since posting back-to-back road wins over the Florida Panthers and New York Islanders during a seven-game road swing that spanned late October and early November, the Jets are just 1-4-3 away from home. Their only road win in that span came against Carolina just three days before the Hurricanes fired coach Paul Maurice.

Paying a visit to the Pepsi Center will serve as a test drive of sorts for the Jets in re-accustoming themselves to life on the road before they take on their road-heavy January slate. The Jets could also benefit from the Avalanche playing at Minnesota tonight. But they will have to deal with a Colorado team that owns the second-longest home win streak in the NHL this season at eight games.

"It will be good for us to get on the road," Noel said, "and hopefully get a road win and stop (Colorado's) streak and for us to play on the road and get some wins. It will be a back-to-back night for them, so hopefully we can take advantage of that."

Noel is making it a point to stress the need to build momentum on the road, where the Jets are not able to draw upon the energy of their home crowd.

"It will be good to get away," Noel said. "For us, we have to start winning some games on the road. If you're going to be a playoff-contending team, which we hope to be, I think you have to start getting to .500 on the road, and that has to be our next goal.

"We've managed to do well here at home," Noel continued. "We've managed to really make some hay, as I said before, while we could, but it's time to get our road record going. We've got a ways to go to get to .500, so it will be a good challenge. We're playing better in the general sense of things, so it will be good."

Skating in high-altitude Denver presents another challenge to the Jets. Forwards Nik Antropov and Blake Wheeler acknowledged that the schedule sending them to Denver immediately after a break is not ideal. Short shifts and jumping on a Colorado team playing on back-to-back nights will be critical.

"It could be a real issue," Noel acknowledged. "If you get stuck on long shifts, you could really have a hard time. You've got to go 30-, 35-, 40-second shifts and get the change, because if you get stuck, your recovery really hits the wall, so it's really tough. It's an advantage to them because they're used to it."
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Posted On Friday, 12.23.2011 / 2:04 PM

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

Projected lineups for Penguins, Jets

WINNIPEG -- Here are the projected lines and pairings for Pittsburgh and Winnipeg.

PENGUINS

Chris Kunitz - Evgeni Malkin - James Neal
Matt Cooke - Jordan Staal - Tyler Kennedy
Steve Sullivan - Joe Vitale - Arron Asham
Jason Williams - Eric Tangradi - Craig Adams
 
Brooks Orpik - Matt Niskanen
Zbynek Michalek - Paul Martin
Simon Despres - Ben Lovejoy
 
Marc-Andre Fleury
Brent Johnson

JETS
Evander Kane - Alexander Burmistrov - Blake Wheeler
Andrew Ladd - Nik Antropov - Kyle Wellwood
Tanner Glass - Jim Slater - Antti Miettinen
Eric Fehr - Tim Stapleton - Chris Thorburn

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

Ondrej Pavelec
Chris Mason
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Posted On Thursday, 12.22.2011 / 2:06 PM

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

Canadiens looking to snap four-game skid

WINNIPEG -- The Montreal Canadiens arrived in Winnipeg a reeling club as they prepare to meet the Jets.

Lugging a four-game losing streak and a controversial coaching change, the Canadiens (13-15-7) have slipped to 12th place in the Eastern Conference and are in the midst of a six-game road trip. The last time the Canadiens were in Winnipeg was in October for the Jets' season-opener at the MTS Centre. That afternoon, the Canadiens spoiled the event for Jets fans in handing Winnipeg a 5-1 defeat.

After a 5-1 loss to the Chicago Blackhawks, new interim coach Randy Cunneyworth is 0-3 behind the Montreal bench since taking over for Jacques Martin.

Injury woes also plague the Canadiens. The Canadiens had 236 man-games lost in the 2010-11 season, but already have lost 179 man-games just 35 games into this season. Brian Gionta and Scott Gomez are both out with lower-body injuries, and defenseman Andrei Markov (knee) has yet to play this season.

Carey Price will start for the Canadiens. Price made 31 saves against the Jets in the game on Oct. 9.

Here are the projected lines and pairings for Montreal:

CANADIENS
Max Pacioretty - David Desharnais - Erik Cole
Mike Cammalleri - Tomas Plekanec - Travis Moen
Andrei Kostitsyn - Lars Eller - Louis Leblanc
Mathieu Darche - Petteri Nokelainen - Mike Blunden

Josh Gorges - P.K. Subban
Hal Gill - Raphael Diaz
Tomas Kaberle - Chris Campoli

Carey Price
Peter Budaj
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Posted On Thursday, 12.22.2011 / 1:34 PM

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

Jets look for solid 60-minute effort vs. Habs

WINNIPEG -- The Winnipeg Jets' home-heavy December slate continues tonight at the MTS Centre when the Montreal Canadiens visit.

The Jets, 6-2-1 this month, will play for the 10th time at home over their past 11 games tonight in the first of back-to-back home dates this week. Though the Jets have beaten the likes of the Boston Bruins and Minnesota Wild at home this month, they also dropped a 3-2 shootout decision on Tuesday night to a New York Islanders club that ranked 14th in the Eastern Conference entering the game.

"We're going to have to play a solid 60-minute game," Jets coach Claude Noel said. "We're going to have to get to [Montreal starting goaltender Carey] Price. We're going to have to get way more traffic at the net. We're going to have to get more shots through to the net."

The Jets will again go without first-line center Bryan Little, who will miss his second consecutive game with a lower-body injury.

Ondrej Pavelec will again start in net for Winnipeg, his 29th start of the season.

"Energy's going to be a huge part of the game tonight," Pavelec said. "We have to play right away and all 60 minutes. It's going to be about us. How are we going to show up, and how are we going to play?"

Here are the projected lines and pairings for Winnipeg:

JETS

Evander Kane - Alexander Burmistrov - Blake Wheeler
Andrew Ladd - Nik Antropov - Kyle Wellwood
Tanner Glass - Jim Slater - Antti Miettinen
Chris Thorburn - Tim Stapleton - Eric Fehr

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

Ondrej Pavelec
Chris Mason
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Posted On Tuesday, 12.20.2011 / 2:25 PM

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

Islanders look to keep up recent road success

WINNIPEG -- The New York Islanders continue their three-game road swing tonight in Winnipeg.

The Islanders (10-14-6) have struggled away from home and have the fewest road points in the Eastern Conference. But a 2-1 shootout win over the Minnesota Wild ended a four-game winless streak, and all four of the Islanders' road wins this season have come over their previous six games away from home. The Islanders have scored first in each of those past six road games.

The Islanders welcomed back injured defenseman Andy MacDonald against Minnesota, but still have a long list of injured players. Veteran forwards Jay Pandolfo (foot) and Brian Rolston (concussion) are out, as are defensemen Mark Eaton (knee) and Steve Staios (concussion) and goaltender Rick DiPietro (groin).

"We know the situation we're in," coach Jack Capuano said. "It's going to take 60 minutes, shift-by-shift."

Travis Hamonic, a native of nearby St. Malo, Man. expects to have nearly 100 family members and friends in attendance to see his Winnipeg debut.

Al Montoya is expected to start for the Islanders after holding the Wild to one goal in Saturday’s win.

Here are the projected lines and pairings for the Islanders.

ISLANDERS

Matt Moulson - John Tavares - PA Parenteau
Michael Grabner - Frans Nielsen - Kyle Okposo
David Ullstrom - Josh Bailey - Tim Wallace
Matt Martin - Marty Reasoner - Nino Niederreiter
 
Mark Streit - Milan Jurcina
Andrew MacDonald - Travis Hamonic
Dylan Reese - Mike Mottau

Al Montoya
Evgeni Nabokov
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Posted On Tuesday, 12.20.2011 / 2:12 PM

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

Little out for Jets against Islanders

WINNIPEG – The Winnipeg Jets needed a rest after a 5-3 win Saturday against a very physical Anaheim Ducks team.

The Jets (15-13-4) took Sunday off and skated Monday in preparation for a game tonight against the New York Islanders, another opponent capable of delivering a physical game. The Jets, who play three home games in four nights this holiday week, have won of nine of their past 11 games at the MTS Centre and continue their December run of 12 of 14 games at home.

While the Jets have been able to spend all but one day at home during the past 23 days, coach Claude Noel’s club continues to endure injury problems.

The Jets have regained Tobias Enstrom and Ron Hainsey on their blue line during the past week – plus forwards Nikolai Antropov and Alexander Burmistrov – but they face another major hit to their lineup.

Center Bryan Little, whose offensive resurgence keyed Winnipeg’s success during the past month, will miss his first game of the season tonight with a lower-body injury after being hit by a shot Saturday night. Little’s absence forced center Jim Slater to take a career-high 30 draws against the Ducks.

Antti Miettinen, acquired via waivers last week, will make his Jets debut on Winnipeg’s third line as Noel must continue to juggle his line-up because of injuries. The addition of Miettinen resulted in the Jets returning left wing Jason Jaffray to the St. John’s IceCaps of the American Hockey League.

Ondrej Pavelec will return to the Winnipeg net after Chris Mason gave him a night off Saturday night.

Here are the projected lines and pairings for Winnipeg:

Evander KaneAlexander BurmistrovBlake Wheeler
Andrew LaddNik AntropovKyle Wellwood
Tanner GlassJim SlaterAntti Miettinen
Chris ThorburnTim StapletonEric Fehr

Mark StuartZach Bogosian
Ron HainseyJohnny Oduya
Dustin ByfuglienTobias Enstrom

Chris Mason
Ondrej Pavelec
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Posted On Saturday, 12.17.2011 / 2:07 PM

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

Projected lineup for Ducks

WINNIPEG – The Anaheim Ducks arrived in Winnipeg early Saturday morning after a 4-1 road loss to the Chicago Blackhawks.

The Ducks’ (9-17-5) late arrival meant that they did not hold a morning skate prior to the game tonight with the Winnipeg Jets at MTS Centre.

Teemu Selanne’s seven-game point streak is the longest such active streak in the League, but the Ducks continue to struggle on the road. The Ducks have lost four straight games away from Honda Center and are just 3-6-1 in their past 10 games.

Center Saku Koivu has missed three consecutive games with a lower-body injury and remains on Injured Reserve. On Friday, the Ducks recalled center Nick Bonino from the American League in place of fellow center Brandon McMillan. Left wing Jason Blake and defenseman Matt Smaby are sidelined with long-term injuries.

Here are the projected lines and pairings for Anaheim:

DUCKS

Niklas Hagman - Ryan Getzlaf - Corey Perry
Andrew Cogliano - Bobby Ryan - Teemu Selanne
Matt Beleskey - Rod Pelley - Kyle Palmieri
Andrew Gordon - Maxime Macenauer - George Parros

Francois Beauchemin - Cam Fowler
Toni Lydman - Lubomir Visnovsky
Luca Sbisa - Sheldon Brookbank

Jonas Hiller
Dan Ellis
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Posted On Saturday, 12.17.2011 / 1:44 PM

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

Jets could play second fiddle to Selanne

WINNIPEG – For one day only, the Winnipeg Jets might have to step away from the spotlight in their own city.

Teemu Selanne’s return to the city has made the Jets’ date tonight at MTS Centre with the Anaheim Ducks the most difficult ticket of the season since Winnipeg’s season-opening game on Oct. 9.

But the Jets (14-13-4) have a game to play, Selanne excitement notwithstanding, as they look to redeem themselves after a loss Thursday night to the Washington Capitals. The loss, the first time a visiting team has shut out the Jets at home this season, ended the Jets’ five-game home winning streak and left coach Claude Noel extremely frustrated.

Chris Mason is expected to start in net tonight for the Jets. In Mason’s most recent start, he beat the Carolina Hurricanes, 4-2, at MTS Centre on Dec. 9.

The Jets sent right wing Carl Klingberg back to their American League affiliate, the St. John’s IceCaps, on Friday. Waiver-wire acquisition Antti Miettinen will not dress for the Jets tonight as he acclimates himself to the Jets after a long journey this week from Finland, but the Jets will have other reinforcements available.

Defenseman Tobias Enstrom is expected to dress for the first time since he broke his collarbone Oct. 31 at Florida. The injury has cost Enstrom 20 games, and his return would be another boost to a Winnipeg blue line that also regained the services of Ron Hainsey this week.

The status of forwards Nikolai Antropov and Alexander Burmistrov remains murky for tonight.

Here is the projected lineup for Winnipeg:

JETS

Evander KaneBryan LittleBlake Wheeler
Andrew LaddKyle WellwoodEric Fehr
Tanner GlassJim SlaterChris Thorburn
Jason JaffrayTim Stapleton

Mark StuartZach Bogosian
Johnny OduyaDustin Byfuglien
Ron HainseyTobias Enstrom
Mark Flood

Chris Mason
Ondrej Pavelec
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Posted On Saturday, 12.17.2011 / 1:34 PM

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

Selanne disappointed Carlyle can't share in reunion

WINNIPEG – Teemu Selanne will have his family and plenty of old friends on hand when he makes his NHL return to Winnipeg on Saturday night.

But one figure who will not be with Selanne is Randy Carlyle, his former Winnipeg Jets teammate and Anaheim Ducks coach.

Selanne’s 1992-93 rookie season and Carlyle’s final season with the Jets began a relationship that continued nearly 20 years later in Anaheim. But the Ducks’ struggles this season cost Carlyle his coaching job and denied the pair an opportunity to return to Winnipeg together.

Carlyle and Selanne had long ago circled the Ducks-Jets game on their calendars.

“We were both very excited. I feel very sorry that he can’t be here today as a coach,” Selanne said.

After Selanne spent the 2003-04 season with the Colorado Avalanche, Carlyle helped bring Selanne back to Anaheim despite the sniper’s knee problems. Selanne has since gone on to spend seven seasons with the Ducks, record a pair of 40-goal seasons and win a Stanley Cup in 2007.

“He believed that I could still play well,” Selanne said of his former teammate-turned-coach. “I’m very thankful to him for that. It’s too bad that he’s not here.”
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Posted On Saturday, 12.17.2011 / 1:30 PM

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

Selanne reflects on famous goal, celebration

WINNIPEG – Teemu Selanne scored 76 times during the 1992-93 season, but no goal is more remembered than his 54th tally.

That goal on March 2, 1993, against the Quebec Nordiques broke Mike Bossy’s previous rookie record of 53 in one season and has been shown countless times in replays during  the past 18 years.

“The whole year was unbelievable,” Selanne said Saturday morning. “I could never have expected that I would have scored 76 goals in my first year.”

Selanne celebrated that goal by tossing his glove in the air and pretending to shoot it out of the air with his stick before racing to teammate Dallas Eakins.

“The older I get,” Selanne admitted, “I almost feel a little embarrassed that I did that. But I was so pumped, and it was so special for me.”

“I remember that building when it happened – it was just rocking.”
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Posted On Thursday, 12.15.2011 / 3:04 PM

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

Caps seek road win, more production from top line

WINNIPEG -- A 5-1 home loss to the Philadelphia Flyers on Tuesday night has the Washington Capitals in need of a win tonight against the Winnipeg Jets.

The Capitals continue their transition under new coach Dale Hunter, but have picked up three wins over their past five games. The road has not treated the Capitals well this season, and the team is 1-7 in its past eight games away from Washington. The Capitals wrap up their two-game road swing on Saturday night against the Colorado Avalanche.

The Capitals' top line of Alex Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom and Alexander Semin have managed only four combined goals since Hunter took over behind the bench, but Hunter is still encouraged by their play and expects that production will follow.

"They've been getting opportunities," Hunter said. "As long as they keep getting opportunities, good things happen."

The Capitals will do without defenseman Mike Green and forwards Jay Beagle and Matt Hendricks against the Jets.

Here are tonight's projected lines and pairings for Washington:

CAPITALS

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

Karl Alzner - John Carlson
John Erskine - Dennis Wideman
Dmitry Orlov - Roman Hamrlik

Michal Neuvirth
Tomas Vokoun

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Posted On Thursday, 12.15.2011 / 2:10 PM

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

Jets want to keep accumulating home points

WINNIPEG -- The Winnipeg Jets look to continue to accumulate points tonight when the Washington Capitals are the latest visitor in this month's home-heavy schedule.

The Jets (14-12-4) have won eight of their past nine games at home, including their last five consecutive MTS Centre dates. Only the Detroit Red Wings (9-1-0) and Boston Bruins (8-1-1) have been better than in their past 10 home games than have the Jets (8-2-0). Among those wins was a 4-1 decision over the Capitals at home on Nov. 17. The clubs also met in Washington on Nov. 23, a game the Capitals took in overtime, 4-3.

Winnipeg plays 12 of 14 games at home this month and is in the midst of a six-game homestand. The Jets' recent home success has pushed them to within one point of the eighth-place New Jersey Devils in the Eastern Conference.

Coach Claude Noel expects that Nik Antropov, who has missed five of the Jets' past six games, will be a game-time decision. Alexander Burmistrov and Randy Jones will miss their second consecutive games with injury. Noel also indicated that defenseman Tobias Enstrom could be ready for action by this weekend. Enstrom has been out since Oct. 31 with a broken collarbone. Waiver-wire addition Antti Miettinen will not dress for the Jets tonight.

Center Bryan Little has anchored the Jets' top line and has goals in four straight games and 17 points (11 goals) in his last 16 contests. Linemates Evander Kane (10-5-15 in his past 13 games) and Blake Wheeler (2-11-13 in his past 12 games) have flanked Little during the Jets' recent run.

The Jets have not faced the Capitals since Washington replaced Bruce Boudreau with Dale Hunter behind the bench. Noel noted that the Capitals have transitioned from a 1-3-1 system to Hunter's 1-2-2 system, but he does not expect a substantially different look from the Capitals.

"They've changed their systems a bit," Noel said. "I don't think Dale is going to come in and re-invent the game and make it confusing."

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

JETS
Evander Kane - Bryan Little - Blake Wheeler
Andrew Ladd - Kyle Wellwood - Eric Fehr
Tanner Glass - Jim Slater - Chris Thorburn
Jason Jaffray - Tim Stapleton - Carl Klingberg

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

Ondrej Pavelec
Chris Mason
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Posted On Tuesday, 12.13.2011 / 3:14 PM

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

Jets happy to add Miettinen off waivers

WINNIPEG -- The Tampa Bay Lightning were hoping to add Antti Miettinen to boost their offense, but the Winnipeg Jets claimed him on waivers, the team announced Tuesday.

Miettinen began this season with Kazan Ak-Bars in the KHL, but the Lightning signed him to a two-year contract Monday. He had to pass through waivers to be eligible to play for Tampa Bay, but the Jets snared him on Tuesday morning.

"We always said that we would be proactive and take a look at all the options that presented themselves," Jets general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff said. "He's shown a lot of versatility in his game. He's a real good character person that can bring a lot to the dressing room and the team."

The 31-year-old Miettinen has 89 goals and 212 points in 472 career NHL games for Dallas and Minnesota. He had 2 goals and 8 points in 20 games in the KHL this season.

The Jets like Miettinen's experience and versatility, particularly for a lineup that remains in need of some additional scoring punch. Nik Antropov and Eric Fehr have battled injuries lately. Miettinen has reached 11 or more goals in each of his past six NHL seasons, and notched 16 goals last season with Minnesota, the second-highest total in his NHL career.

"He adds to our group, which is good," Jets coach Claude Noel said. "I think he fits in our group. He's a smart player, dependable all over the ice. He can finish some. I think he makes us better."

Miettinen and his family remain in Finland, but Cheveldayoff indicated that the Jets are working to bring them to Winnipeg as quickly as possible.

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Posted On Tuesday, 12.13.2011 / 2:27 PM

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

Jets move on from loss, start long home stretch

WINNIPEG -- The Winnipeg Jets did not waste any time moving on from a 7-1 loss on Saturday night to the Detroit Red Wings.

"For us, we've moved past that game," Jets coach Claude Noel said. "We weren't happy with it. I don't think anybody enjoyed playing it, watching it, anything."

After suffering their worst loss of the season, the Jets (13-12-4) will be back on MTS Centre ice tonight against the Minnesota Wild, where they have won seven of their last eight home contests, including four wins before their boisterous home crowd. The Jets will play six consecutive games at home and eight of their next nine contests at home this month.

The Jets' lineup also continues to change because of injury. The Jets activated defenseman Ron Hainsey and expect to dress the veteran tonight. Hainsey has played only one game since Oct. 17. The Jets also claimed veteran forward Antti Miettinen off waivers on Tuesday morning, but he is in Finland and not immediately expected to arrive in Winnipeg.

Alexander Burmistrov is not expected to dress because of an undisclosed injury, and Nik Antropov is also expected to be a scratch because of injury after having re-entered the Winnipeg lineup in Detroit. Right wing Eric Fehr remains on injured reserve, as do defensemen Tobias Enstrom and Derek Meech.

"We'll make a game-time decision," Noel said when asked about his lineup, adding that he did not think that he would use any of his defensemen in a forward role for the night.

Here are tonight's projected lines and pairings for Winnipeg:

JETS
Evander Kane - Bryan Little - Blake Wheeler
Andrew Ladd - Tim Stapleton - Kyle Wellwood
Tanner Glass - Jim Slater - Chris Thorburn
Jason Jaffray - Carl Klingberg

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

Ondrej Pavelec
Chris Mason
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Posted On Tuesday, 12.13.2011 / 2:08 PM

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

Wild aim for eighth straight road win

WINNIPEG -- The Minnesota Wild will attempt to set a new franchise mark for consecutive road wins with eight when they head north to the unfriendly confines of the MTS Centre.

Minnesota's 20 wins and 43 points lead the NHL, and the club is off to its best start in franchise history. The Wild also own a seven-game winning streak after knocking off the Phoenix Coyotes on the road Saturday night, 4-1. Kyle Brodziak chipped in two power-play goals against the Coyotes and now leads all Minnesota scorers with 10 goals.

Tonight's meeting is the first look at what will be a new conference rivalry come next season. Minnesota and Winnipeg are each other's closest geographic rivals.

The Wild will regain the services of left wing Guillaume Latendresse, whom they activated from injured reserve this morning after a 15-game absence. Latendresse last played on Nov. 10 at San Jose. However, center Matt Cullen will not play after being sidelined by illness.

Defensemen Marek Zidlicky (concussion) and Justin Falk (upper body) remain out for Minnesota, as does right wing Devin Setoguchi (lower body) Right wing Cal Clutterbuck, who missed the last two games with a lower-body injury, will draw back into the Minnesota line-up.

WILD
Guillaume Latendresse - Mikko Koivu - Dany Heatley
Casey Wellman - Kyle Brodziak - Pierre-Marc Bouchard
Nick Johnson - Darroll Powe - Cal Clutterbuck
Colton Gillies - Cody Almond - Brad Staubitz

Nick Schultz - Mike Lundin
Marco Scandella - Jared Spurgeon
Clayton Stoner - Greg Zanon

Niklas Backstrom
Matt Hackett

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Posted On Friday, 12.09.2011 / 2:56 PM

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

Canes coming off big win, trade

WINNIPEG -- A major trade on Friday quickly overshadowed one of the biggest wins of the season for the Carolina Hurricanes.

Defenseman Tomas Kaberle headed out of town on Friday morning after the Hurricanes shipped him to the Montreal Canadiens for fellow Czech defenseman Jaroslav Spacek. Hurricanes coach Kirk Muller expects Spacek to draw into the Carolina lineup tonight after his arrival in Winnipeg this afternoon.

Kaberle had contributed 2 assists in the team's most recent outing, a 5-3 win over the Edmonton Oilers that broke a streak of seven consecutive losses (0-6-1). The Hurricanes traveled to Winnipeg immediately after the game and enjoyed a day off yesterday.

The Hurricanes have discovered an offensive side on this week's tour of Western Canada, having picked up 11 goals in games against the Oilers and Calgary FlamesTuomo Ruutu and Chad Larose both own two-game goal streaks, and Jamie McBain has picked up points in his last three contests (3-2-5).

With a regular-season contest as well as a preseason date already in Winnipeg, the Hurricanes are most familiar with the MTS Centre's unwelcoming environment for visiting teams. The Jets have fed off that home-ice advantage and have taken six of their last seven games at home.

"We have to be ready for the start," Muller said. "We have to be ready for a team that goes after you."

Muller has stressed a more up-tempo system since taking over behind the Carolina bench on Nov. 28. The win against the Oilers was perhaps the first sign that the new system is beginning to take root with the Hurricanes.

"We want to go after them," captain Eric Staal said of the Jets. "They're an up-tempo team, too, and if you let them initiate their forecheck, get in there and use their skill, they'll capitalize. For us, I think we want to initiate."

The Hurricanes will continue on to Toronto after tonight's game and spend three days there before their game with the Maple Leafs next Tuesday night.

Here is what the Hurricanes lineup likely will look like:

HURRICANES
Jeff Skinner - Eric Staal - Tuomo Ruutu
Alexei Ponikarovsky - Jussi Jokinen - Chad LaRose
Jiri Tlusty - Brandon Sutter - Patrick Dwyer
Andreas Nodl - Tim Brent - Anthony Stewart

Bryan Allen - Derek Joslin
Tim Gleason - Justin Faulk
Jamie McBain - Jaroslav Spacek

Cam Ward will start for the Hurricanes, with Mike Murphy backing up.
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Posted On Friday, 12.09.2011 / 2:34 PM

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

Jets know they can't overlook Hurricanes

WINNIPEG -- A classic "trap" game awaits the Winnipeg Jets tonight when the Carolina Hurricanes arrive in town.

The 12-11-4 Jets took their most impressive win of the season so far on Tuesday night when they beat the Boston Bruins, 2-1, at the MTS Centre to break Boston's streak of 15 games without a regulation defeat. The Jets are now on a 7-2-1 run in their last 10 games, have won three straight and have taken six of their last seven home outings. And tomorrow, the Jets skate in Detroit against the Red Wings, who hold the Western Conference's fourth spot.

In between the Bruins and the Red Wings are the 9-17-4 Hurricanes, who continue their midseason shake-up under new coach Kirk Muller. Jets coach Claude Noel is fully aware of the perils of overlooking the Hurricanes.

"We're certainly going to be aware of Carolina," Noel said. "I'm not taking them lightly, especially after the [Tomas Kaberle-Jaroslav Spacek] deal they made today. That will get the attention of the players."

"They're in a little bit of turmoil," Noel said of Carolina. "They're trying to reorganize and re-shuffle. They'll be ready to play. We'll have to be ready to go."

Goaltender Chris Mason will see action for only the sixth time this season for the Jets, as he will spell workhorse partner Ondrej Pavelec tonight. Mason last played two weeks ago when he led the Jets to a 3-1 win against the Hurricanes at the RBC Center on Nov. 25.

Mason's only other win this season also came at Carolina's expense when he relieved Pavelec at the MTS Centre in a 5-3 decision over the Hurricanes on Oct. 22.

The Jets also expect to regain the services of center Nik Antropov, who has missed three games with a lower-body injury sustained on Nov. 29 against Ottawa. Randy Jones, who has missed 15 consecutive games since taking a shot to his foot on Nov. 3, is also expected to re-enter the Winnipeg defensive rotation in place of Arturs Kulda.

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

JETS

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

Johnny Oduya - Dustin Byfuglien
Mark Stuart - Zach Bogosian
Randy Jones - Mark Flood

Chris Mason will start for the Jets, with Ondrej Pavelec backing up.
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Posted On Tuesday, 12.06.2011 / 2:23 PM

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

Jets happy with next season's conference lineup

WINNIPEG -- No team in the NHL is more geographically displaced this season than the Winnipeg Jets.

Jets players and coaches roundly supported last night's realignment decision that is expected to move the club out of the Southeast Division for the 2012-13 season. Next season Winnipeg will play in a conference with the Chicago Blackhawks, Columbus Blue Jackets, Dallas Stars, Detroit Red Wings, Nashville Predators, Minnesota Wild and St. Louis Blues.

Minnesota is the Jets' nearest geographic rival and should allow fans to make the seven-hour car trip for road games next season. Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews is a Winnipeg product, and the Blue Jackets have former Winnipeg Jet Scott Arniel manning their bench.

While the Jets have the benefit this season of frequent travel to warmer climates for road games with the Carolina Hurricanes, Florida Panthers and Tampa Bay Lightning, next season's schedule should ease the Jets' travel burden.

The Jets also have three Minnesota products on their roster, and a chance to play before family and friends at the Xcel Energy Center delighted Blake Wheeler, who also played his NCAA hockey at the University of Minnesota.

"I like being in the Midwest a little more and being in the Central time zone," Wheeler said. "It'll be fun to play back home a little more often, and more specifically, for our travel, it's going to be huge to play the majority of our games in this area."
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Posted On Tuesday, 12.06.2011 / 2:12 PM

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

Jets hoping to continue strong home play vs. Bruins

WINNIPEG -- The Winnipeg Jets have pinpointed December's home-heavy slate as a critical segment of their season.

A pair of wins last week against the Phoenix Coyotes and New Jersey Devils served as key points for a team looking to establish a home-ice presence in its first season at the MTS Centre.

Now the Jets, 7-4-0 at home this season, face their biggest test of the season at the MTS Centre tonight when the defending Stanley Cup champion Boston Bruins make their first visit to Winnipeg this season. The Bruins bring a 7-2-0 road mark into Winnipeg after beating the Pittsburgh Penguins 3-1 on Monday and have not lost away from home since Oct. 29.

Jets coach Claude Noel watched a portion of last night's Bruins-Penguins game and was asked for his take on what he saw.

"I took out of it that Boston is a good team," Noel replied to laughs from the assembled media. "And I knew that before I watched that game."

"It's going to be an interesting game for us," Noel added. "They've got depth. Who doesn't scare you on that team?"

The Jets' top line of Evander Kane, Bryan Little and Blake Wheeler continue to drive the Winnipeg offense. Kane has 6 goals in his last five games, 9 goals and 12 points in his last nine games, and owns a five-game point-scoring streak. Wheeler and Little, two important cogs who experienced very slow starts to their seasons, have four- and three-game point streaks, respectively.

"They've got some size on that line, especially on the wings," Noel said of his top trio.

The line has been defensively reliable, and Noel surmises that Kane has helped to draw out the speed Little and Wheeler possess.

"I didn't see the speed in Wheeler and Little before that I do now," he said. "It's been a really good asset for us."

Ondrej Pavelec will start in net for Winnipeg tonight, the 18th time in the team's last 19 games that he will received the starting nod.

Forwards Nik Antropov and Eric Fehr remain sidelined by injury and will not dress, while defensemen Ron Hainsey, Derek Meech, Randy Jones and Tobias Enstrom also are out with injuries.

The Jets returned defenseman Brett Festerling to the St. John's IceCaps of the American Hockey League and reclaimed center Ben Maxwell on waivers from the Anaheim Ducks and assigned him to St. John's.

Here are tonight’s projected lines and pairings for Winnipeg.

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

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

Ondrej Pavelec will start for the Jets, with Chris Mason backing up.

With the Bruins having played last night, they didn't skate today. If they don't change things -- and with their current 14-0-1 stretch, why would they? -- here's what their lineup could look like:

Tyler Seguin - Patrice Bergeron - Brad Marchand
Milan Lucic - David Krejci - Nathan Horton
Benoit Pouliot - Chris Kelly - Rich Peverley
Daniel Paille - Gregory Campbell - Shawn Thornton

Zdeno Chara - Johnny Boychuk
Joe Corvo - Dennis Seidenberg
Andrew Ference - Adam McQuaid

With Tim Thomas starting last night, it's likely he'll be the backup and Tuukka Rask will start tonight.

For more on tonight's game, check out the preview here.
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Posted On Saturday, 12.03.2011 / 2:09 PM

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

Devils have quick turnaround, look to end slide

WINNIPEG – The Devils arrived in Winnipeg late after a 4-2 road loss Friday night against the Minnesota Wild, their third consecutive loss. Minnesota knocked starting goaltender Martin Brodeur out of the game with three goals on four shots, and Johan Hedberg finished the game. The defeat wasted a multi-point effort from Zach Parise and Adam Henrique extending his scoring streak to four games.

After the game Saturday, New Jersey will wrap up a four-game stretch away from home Tuesday night at Air Canada Centre against the Toronto Maple Leafs before returning to Newark for a pair of home dates.

The late arrival into Winnipeg meant that the Devils did not hold a morning skate. Hedberg is expected to start against the Jets, according to Tom Gulitti of The Record.

Travis Zajac (Achilles’ tendon) and Jacob Josefson (clavicle) both remain sidelined with long-term injuries. Rod Pelley did not dress against Minnesota – the 10th time in the Devils' last 11 games that he has been a healthy scratch.

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Posted On Saturday, 12.03.2011 / 2:06 PM

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

Jets in midst of critical home stretch

WINNIPEG – The Winnipeg Jets know that December will go a long way toward deciding whether they are a team able to make a legitimate second-half push for a playoff berth.

The Jets (10-11-4) are in the midst of a stretch of 12 of 14 games on MTS Centre ice, where they have a 6-4-0 mark and are taking steps toward establishing a home-ice presence. After a lethargic 6-4 loss Tuesday to the Ottawa Senators, Winnipeg turned in a strong 1-0 effort against the Phoenix Coyotes two days later. Moreover, a club that has allowed the most opposing power plays this season spotted the Coyotes just two man-advantages.

“[Tonight’s] game is going to be important for us,” coach Claude Noel said. “We had a good game last time. Is this what we are?”

Ondrej Pavelec, who collected his second shutout of the season in a 33-save gem Thursday, will start in the Winnipeg net again tonight, the 17th time in the Jets’ past 18 games that he has started.

The Jets’ line of Evander Kane, Bryan Little and Blake Wheeler is finding chemistry after all three players endured slow starts to their respective seasons. Little scored the only goal Thursday night and now has five goals and nine points in his past eight outings. Kane is on a four-game point streak and Wheeler has picked up points in his last three contests.

The Jets will have an off-day Sunday before a Tuesday home date with the Boston Bruins.

“It would be nice to go into that day off feeling good about things,” Noel said.

Here are tonight’s projected lines and pairings for Winnipeg.

JETS

Evander Kane - Bryan Little - Blake Wheeler
Andrew Ladd - Alexander Burmistrov - Kyle Wellwood
Tanner GlassJim Slater- Chris Thorburn
Jason JaffrayTim StapletonCarl Klingberg

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

Ondrej Pavelec will start for the Jets, with Chris Mason backing up.
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Posted On Thursday, 12.01.2011 / 2:14 PM

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

Jets look to rebound, plus a look at their lines

WINNIPEG – The Winnipeg Jets began a long home stretch on Tuesday night looking to set a tone for December’s home-heavy slate.

But a sloppy 6-4 loss to the Ottawa Senators at the MTS Centre that began a run of 13 of 15 games on home ice left coach Claude Noel exasperated. The Jets blew a third-period lead to the Senators and reverted to many of the same bad habits that had plagued them earlier this season.

Still, Noel chose not to dwell on the loss and put the Jets through only a light workout on Wednesday morning.

“For us, I think that we move past [Tuesday’s loss],” Noel said. “We’ve got to play with some good energy tonight.”

The Jets still saw some fall-out from the loss on Wednesday when the club recalled 20-year-old left wing Carl Klingberg from St. John’s of the American League. Klingberg, a 2009 second-round pick, ranked second on the IceCaps with 9-7-16 numbers. Klingberg is expected to dress for tonight’s game.

The Jets remain without the services of defensemen Tobias Enstrom, Brett Festerling, Ron Hainsey, Randy Jones and Derek Meech, who are all on injured reserve. Center Nik Antropov and Eric Fehr are both banged up and will be game-time decisions.

Here are tonight's projected lines and pairings for the Jets.

JETS
Evander Kane - Bryan Little - Blake Wheeler
Andrew Ladd - Nik Antropov - Kyle Wellwood
Tanner Glass - Alexander Burmistrov - Eric Fehr
Carl Klingberg - Jim Slater - Chris Thorburn

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

Ondrej Pavelec will start for the Jets, with Chris Mason backing up.
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Posted On Thursday, 12.01.2011 / 2:01 PM

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

Turris could make season debut for Coyotes tonight

WINNIPEG -- Sub-freezing temperatures awaited the Phoenix Coyotes when they arrived in Winnipeg late Wednesday night.

Whether the reception from the boisterous 15,004 fans that fill the MTS Centre every night will provide the Coyotes an equally cold reception remains to be seen.

The Coyotes arrived in their ancestral home in possession of a two-game winning streak and will play a Winnipeg Jets club that they beat 4-1 in their home-opener, back on Oct. 15.

After netting just one goal in his first nine games, Radim Vrbata has exploded offensively for the Coyotes, scoring 11 goals in his past 14 games. Tuesday in Chicago, Vrbata had a goal and an assist, his sixth multi-point game this season.

The Coyotes have excelled away from home this season en route to producing the Western Conference’s second-best road mark (7-3-1). They've allowed only 19 goals in their past 10 road games.

"The basic premise is that we all have to play together or we are not going to win," Coyotes coach Dave Tippett said. "Our players have bought into that. I've liked that we've played a real good team game the past few games."

Tippett indicated that there is a possibility that center Kyle Turris could make his season debut tonight.

Here are Phoenix's projected lines and pairings for tonight:

Ray Whitney - Martin Hanzal - Radim Vrbata
Mikkel Boedker - Daymond Langkow - Shane Doan
Taylor Pyatt - Boyd Gordon - Lauri Korpikoski
Raffi Torres - Kyle Chipchura/Kyle Turris - Patrick O'Sullivan

Keith Yandle - Derek Morris
Oliver Ekman-Larsson - Adrian Aucoin
Rostislav Klesla - David Schlemko

Mike Smith will start in net for Phoenix, with Jason LaBarbera the backup.

For more on tonight's game, check out the preview here.
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Posted On Tuesday, 11.29.2011 / 2:32 PM

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

Jets begin stretch of 13 out of 15 games at home

WINNIPEG -- Tonight's home date with the Ottawa Senators begins a stretch of 13 of 15 games on MTS Centre ice for the Winnipeg Jets.

The home-heavy holiday schedule will be a change for the 9-10-4 Jets, who have opened this season with 15 of their first 23 games on the road in going 4-7-4 away from Winnipeg. The Jets will welcome in the Phoenix Coyotes on Thursday and receive a visit from the New Jersey Devils on Saturday night.

Home ice has been kind to the Jets this month, the club having swept a homestand from Tampa Bay, Washington and Philadelphia earlier this month in convincing fashion. The Jets followed up that effort with a 1-1-1 swing through Washington, Carolina and Boston last week. The Jets, whose 25.1-percent conversion rate on the power play at home ranks second in the NHL, rang up a 6-for-15 performance on the power play in those three home games before going scoreless on the man-advantage last week on the road.

The Jets are coming off a 4-2 loss on Saturday night to the Boston Bruins after surrendering four unanswered goals to spoil another strong performance from workhorse goaltender Ondrej Pavelec.

The Jets' blue line continues to battle injury woes. Ron Hainsey will miss his 18th game out of Winnipeg's past 19. Tobias Enstrom, Brett Festerling, Randy Jones and Derek Meech all remain on injured reserve for the Jets, who have lost 113 man-games to injury this season.

Here are tonight's projected lines and pairings for the Jets.

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

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

Ondrej Pavelec is expected to start for the Jets, with Chris Mason backing up.
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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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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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Posted On Thursday, 10.06.2011 / 4:29 PM

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

Cheveldayoff understands team's importance for city

WINNIPEG -- Winnipeg Jets general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff’s opportunities to reflect have been limited this summer.

Hired by the Jets on June 8, the former Chicago Blackhawks assistant general manager has spent his summer orchestrating the mammoth task of relocating an NHL club, reshaping its roster, hiring a new coaching staff and, of course, handling the many off-ice chores that come with moving from Chicago.

But Cheveldayoff took a moment Thursday to soak in the all-hockey environment that is Winnipeg this weekend, including its being the centerpiece of the 2011 Molson Canadian NHL Face-Off.

"All of the players here are enjoying the opportunity for change," Cheveldayoff said of his club's start in a new home. "They're embracing the enthusiasm in the building and the community. I think that like anyone, they're just excited to get started. It's a long journey, and this will be the first step for all of them."

Taking a long-term view while handling his club's day-to-day affairs does not afford Cheveldayoff the luxury of attaching additional significance to his club's season-opener Sunday against the Canadiens (4 p.m. ET, NHLN-US, CBC, RDS).

"I don't look at this game differently than I'm going to look at any game coming up," Cheveldayoff said. "As a manager, you look at the short-term ... but you also have to look at the long-term situation and see what plays itself out."

Still, even the all-business Cheveldayoff could not help but absorb the excitement in the city surrounding the Jets.

"(I am) very excited," he said. "Excited for the community, the Chipman family, for guys like (assistant GM) Craig Heisinger, who stuck in there for so long. For the city of Winnipeg, it's going to be a very special day."
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Posted On Thursday, 10.06.2011 / 4:24 PM

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

Jets staying patient through long break

WINNIPEG -- The Winnipeg Jets will be the final NHL club to make its 2011-12 debut.

The Jets are in the midst of a nine-day break that will end Sunday when they host the Montreal Canadiens (4 p.m. ET, NHLN-US, CBC, RDS) in the city’s first regular-season NHL game  in more than 15 years.

Coach Claude Noel’s club has not been in game competition since last Friday, when they lost a shootout to the visiting Nashville Predators. The club missed the Stanley Cup Playoffs last spring, so other than international competition and playoff time logged with other clubs, most of the Jets have not seen regular-season competition in nearly six months.

Left wing Tanner Glass is an exception among the group. Glass spent last season with the Vancouver Canucks and was in the lineup for the Stanley Cup Final Game 7 loss to the Boston Bruins.

Playing that late meant a shortened offseason but Glass, whose busy summer included signing with the Jets on July 1 and getting married, is ready to go.

"For me personally, I'd like to get it going," Glass said. "Even though it has been a short summer for me, the season is here. Right now, it feels like we should get going."

Whether the extended break is a benefit is a matter of debate. The delay does allow additional time to hammer out systems and team play for a young club adjusting to a new city and a new coach. The Canadiens already will have played a game by Sunday.

"It all depends on how you handle it, right?" defenseman Mark Stuart said of the time off. "If we don't put our work in practice, then they might have an advantage. If we do, then I think it's pretty even. We have a chance to get some good practice time. As long we do the right things, we'll be ready to go."

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Posted On Thursday, 10.06.2011 / 4:19 PM

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

Jets practice fan salute

WINNIPEG -- The Winnipeg Jets wrapped practice Thursday with a light moment.

The team gathered at center ice to "practice" their fan salute. Like other NHL teams, the Jets have adopted the European tradition of paying tribute to their fans at the end of games.

Afterward, captain Andrew Ladd explained the salute was for use in the 2011 Molson Canadian NHL Face-Off later in the day.

"It's something that we did the first few games," Ladd said. "It's nice to give the crowd credit for being so supportive of us."
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Posted On Saturday, 09.17.2011 / 5:41 PM

By Patrick Williams -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Super Saturday

Jets Camp: Fehr not ready; Lots of Moose connections

WINNIPEG – For better or for worse, the Winnipeg Jets should have a quieter experience Sunday when they begin their second day of on-ice workouts.

The club will shift from its practice facility on the outskirts of Winnipeg to its downtown home, the MTS Centre. Sunday’s practice sessions will not be open to the public as the club continues preparations leading up to a pair of split-squad games Tuesday against the Columbus Blue Jackets.

** Right wing Eric Fehr, who underwent shoulder surgery this summer, will not participate in preseason competition and does not expect to be ready for the club’s season-opening game on Oct. 9 against the Montreal Canadiens. The Jets acquired Fehr, a Manitoba native, July 8th from the Washington Capitals in a deal for a prospect Danick Paquette and a fourth-round pick.

** The Jets have a heavy Manitoba Moose flavor. The Moose, Winnipeg’s pro hockey club in the American Hockey League between 1996 and this past season, occupied the MTS Centre before giving way to the Jets. Former Moose attending training camp with the Jets are forwards Jason Jaffray, Shawn Weller and Winnipeg native Jason Gregoire, along with defensemen Mark Flood and Travis Ramsay. Former Moose Marco Rosa is in camp with the Jet, but sidelined by injury.
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Posted On Saturday, 09.17.2011 / 5:02 PM

By Patrick Williams -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Super Saturday

Jets Camp: Wheeler moves twice, hopes to settle in

WINNIPEGWinnipeg Jets right wing Blake Wheeler has had quite an education in the past calendar year.

A trade from the Boston Bruins to his current organization Feb. 18 cost Wheeler a chance to win the Stanley Cup.

Then Wheeler found himself on the move again after his club relocated during the summer to Winnipeg. The move has meant a new home. But while Wheeler has registered back-to-back 18-goal seasons, he has another new coaching staff and management team to impress.

"I'm just trying to earn my spot here. I was given the opportunity to take on a bigger responsibility, more minutes, when I was traded, and I'm just trying to earn that same role, hopefully," Wheeler said.

"At this level, words don't really mean much. It's how you go out and play. I learned that in Boston. You've got to fit in wherever (needed) in order to accomplish the ultimate goal. Those guys won the Stanley Cup this year, and I missed out by a month or two. It was a very tough lesson, but a very valuable one."

Wheeler came to the club along with defenseman Mark Stuart, and they were a pair of new faces in the dressing room. Now the entire club is in new surroundings with new coaching staff.

"This is all new faces, all new systems, all new everything," Wheeler said. "Coming over here as a team, as a group, it's new to everyone. I think it helps. We're kind of all new. We're all in this together, and I think it brings the team together (more quickly)."

But the challenge also presents an opportunity for a young club to begin the process of molding itself into an elite-level organization.

"It's weird, and it's exciting. We get the opportunity to make this NHL franchise what we want it to be," Wheeler said. "To be accountable to one another, to pay attention to detail, to make this a place where you want to be."
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Posted On Saturday, 09.17.2011 / 4:16 PM

By Patrick Williams -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Super Saturday

Jets Camp: Voice aside, Noel relishes coaching opportunity

WINNIPEG -- Certainly Winnipeg Jets head coach Claude Noel had some obstacles to overcome on his first day guiding his club.

Noel has a new roster to learn, the distractions inherent in playing in a Canadian market, and a fan base that has 15 years of pent-up NHL energy to release.

After three on-ice sessions, Noel had a new obstacle -- his hoarse voice. The chatty Noel can fill a notebook, and the loud crowd on hand forced Noel to raise his voice to be heard.

"I thought (the players') work ethic, their attention to detail, their attitudes all looked real good," Noel said. "I know it's the first day and there hasn't been any adversity, but I thought it was a tremendous first day for us."
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Posted On Saturday, 09.17.2011 / 3:31 PM

By Patrick Williams -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Super Saturday

Jets Camp: Winnipeg hopes for elite goaltending

WINNIPEG -- If the Winnipeg Jets are going to find success this season, they will need to rely heavily on goaltending.

The tandem of Ondrej Pavelec and Chris Mason helped pilot the former Atlanta Thrashers to a hot start last season, and the Jets could need Pavelec to step into the League's echelon of elite goaltending.

"He definitely has superstar talent," Mason said of Pavelec. "He has a good demeanor, great mindset, and he is a great athlete in the net. When he on last year, he was one of the best in the League."

Pavelec turned 24 last month, and the 35-year-old Mason will balance mentoring the young goaltending while keeping himself ready to step into the crease at a moment's notice.

"We've got a great relationship," Mason said of his dealings with Pavelec. "I'll play when I'm told to play. That's what I intend to do."

Mason is familiar with the role, having broken into the League with the Nashville Predators and their then-workhorse goaltender, Tomas Vokoun. Mason eventually moved into starting roles with the Predators and St. Louis Blues before coming to his current organization.

Last season in Atlanta, Pavelec logged 58 games, while Mason appeared in 33 contests.

"I started out my NHL career as a back-up," Mason said. "I've had the opportunity to play every role."
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Posted On Saturday, 09.17.2011 / 2:49 PM

By Patrick Williams -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Super Saturday

Jets Camp: Scheifele relishes first NHL practice

WINNIPEG -- It is fair to say Winnipeg Jets first-round pick Mark Scheifele was nervous for his first on-ice NHL practice?

"Very, very nervous," Scheifele admitted. "But once you get on the, it kind of went away."

It is also OK to say Scheifele's smile won't be going away anytime soon.

"Probably not," he said. "It won't wear off for a while."

Winnipeg selected the 18-year-old Scheifele with the seventh pick at the NHL Entry Draft in June, and the centerman has impressed in the early going. After a busy summer spent in the gym building upon his 6-foot-2, 181-pound frame, he was among Winnipeg's best players at the prospects tournament in Penticton, B.C., earlier this week.

But now Scheifele, who recorded 22 goals in the 2010-11 season with the Ontario Hockey League's Barrie Colts, is competing against NHL veterans. He anticipated a far quicker pace once the NHL veterans joined him on the ice, and they more than confirmed that expectation.
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Posted On Saturday, 09.17.2011 / 1:21 PM

By Patrick Williams -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Super Saturday

Jets Camp: Meech excited to be with hometown Jets

WINNIPEG -- Derek Meech grew up in Winnipeg and had just celebrated his 12th birthday when the original Jets departed for Phoenix in 1996.

Meech took in the original Jets' final game in Winnipeg on April 28, 1996 when the Detroit Red Wings eliminated the home club in the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs. The loss sent the Jets on their way to Phoenix.

Fifteen years later, Meech's Jets connection was made whole again Saturday as a 27-year-old defenseman embarking on his eighth pro season.
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Posted On Saturday, 09.17.2011 / 11:46 AM

By Patrick Williams -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Super Saturday

Jets Camp: Fans flock to first practice

WINNIPEG -- Space is rarely at a premium where the wide-open Canadian prairie begins on the outskirts of Winnipeg.

But the Winnipeg Jets' first day of on-ice workouts brought a jammed MTS Iceplex, packed parking lots and fans huddled around the glass surrounding the Jets' practice rink.

Veteran Nik Antropov will go down in Winnipeg hockey history as the first Jets player to take the ice here. The Winnipeg faithful greeted Antropov and his teammates with a loud burst of cheers to commemorate the city's entry back into the League.

Later in the session, captain Andrew Ladd drew a rise from the crowd with a shifty deke, the first of several bursts from a crowd that analyzed every move a Jet made.

Ladd, Bryan Little and defensemen Zach Bogosian and Tobias Enstrom were among the established veterans to partake in the first group of players to take the ice.

Winnipeg natives Kevin Clark and Derek Meech also participated. Two groups of players will follow later in the day.
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Quote of the Day

We want to make sure that whoever makes our team really makes our team by earning it and not putting them in situations where they get preference because of their status as a first-round pick or whatever it might be. That's not going to happen. Everybody has to earn their way on our team.

— Columbus Blue Jackets general manager Jarmo Kekalainen on the team's prospects at development camp