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 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
Ron Hainsey – Johnny Oduya
Dustin Byfuglien – Tobias Enstrom