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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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