NEW YORK -- Winnipeg Jets forward Evander Kane will not play Monday against the New York Rangers after sustaining a lower-body injury early in the second period of a 2-1 loss to the Philadelphia Flyers on Friday. In Kane's absence, John Albert, who was recalled Sunday from the Jets' American Hockey League affiliate in St. John's, will make his NHL debut.
"It's day-to-day. [Evander] won't be in the game tonight. So we'll just take it from there," Jets coach Claude Noel said, making clear what he expected from Albert in his first NHL game. "He just needs to be able to hold his own. He has to trust the way he plays. He's been good on faceoffs, he's been good on penalty kills. He's a guy who plays with speed. He just needs to earn the trust of the coaches and the staff."
The 24-year-old Cleveland native had three goals and eight points in 23 games this season for the Ice Caps and will have his family in attendance at Madison Square Garden.
"Ever since I found out I was being called up, it's been an emotional time for my family. I'm just really excited to be here," said Albert, who called his parents the moment he got the news. "They've been my biggest supporters since I was 3 years old and started skating. My dad and mom haven't really missed a game in 10 years. They'll be here tonight, for sure."
The night will certainly be memorable for Albert, but the hope is this six-game road trip will be memorable for the whole team, especially the stop in New York. The Jets enjoyed an outdoor practice in Central Park over the weekend and a number of players got some time to enjoy the sights during the weekend.
"This is my first time being in New York. It's been fun. It's pretty cool to be right in Times Square. Me and [defenseman Jacob Trouba] have definitely walked around a lot. It's been pretty cool to experience," rookie forward Mark Scheifele said. "We had a team dinner the other night. just to get close together. We have a great group of guys here. We want to continue to develop that. You have to be a tight-knit group to win."
Winnipeg has gone 2-1-0 on the trip and sits last in the Central Division.
"It's a good team-building trip for us. You have a chance to grow a little as a group and do some different things. I think that's good," Noel said. "You still have to be able to play on the ice. For us, it's a good trip but we want to make sure our performance is good as well."
Ondrej Pavelec will start in net for the Jets, who could make some roster changes before game time.
Here are the projected lineups for the Jets and Rangers: