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."
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.
- Bryan Little
- Blake Wheeler
- Alexander Burmistrov
- Kyle Wellwood
- Jim Slater
- Chris Thorburn
- Tim Stapleton
- Carl Klingberg
- Dustin Byfuglien
- Zach Bogosian
- Mark Flood
will start for the Jets, with Chris Mason
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:
- Patrice Bergeron
- Brad Marchand
- David Krejci
- Nathan Horton
- Chris Kelly
- Rich Peverley
- Gregory Campbell
- Shawn Thornton
- Johnny Boychuk
- Dennis Seidenberg
- 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