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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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Quote of the Day

I mean, hockey had to change the rules because of Marty, and that's impressive. I got two Stanley Cup rings because of the guy. Look at the banners of [Scott Niedermayer, Scott Stevens and Ken Daneyko] and Marty is right up there when you think about the New Jersey Devils; he was part of the core group and he'll go down as one of the greatest goalies ever.

— New Jersey Devils center Scott Gomez on former teammate Martin Brodeur, who will announce his retirement Thursday