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At the Rink blog

Jets ready for tough test from Blues

Friday, 02.24.2012 / 6:40 PM

By Patrick Williams - NHL.com Correspondent / At the Rink blog

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At the Rink blog
Jets ready for tough test from Blues

WINNIPEG - The Winnipeg Jets might finally control the Southeast Division's top spot, but the challenges will keep coming for coach Claude Noel's club.

The St. Louis Blues visit the MTS Centre on Saturday afternoon and will present the Jets with another stiff challenge in the fifth of a season-long eight-game homestand. The Jets are 3-0-1 during their current stay at home and sit one point ahead of the Florida Panthers for the Southeast Division lead.

"It will be a really good challenge for our team," Noel said of his team's final game before the NHL Trade Deadline. "They've got a pretty good team. They've got some good elements when you look at their team."

"It's very clear that they will manage the puck well and will check, check, check," Noel said of the Blues. "You're going to have earn every inch of ice, especially up the ice."

Noel will be matching up against Blues coach Ken Hitchcock, his long-time mentor in the Dallas and Columbus organizations.

"It will be interesting. That's good. It raises the bar, makes it fun," he said.

Noel said after practice on Friday that he has not yet determined his starting goaltender for Saturday's game. Ondrej Pavelec has started Winnipeg's past four games, including a 55-shot barrage from the Philadelphia Flyers this past Tuesday night.

"There are a lot of reasons why you wouldn't want to move off Pavelec," Noel said.

Zach Bogosian will miss his sixth consecutive game on the Winnipeg blue line. What was expected to be a brief absence has lasted longer than expected, and he will not return until at least next week, Noel said.

The Jets also placed forward Antti Miettinen on waivers on Friday. Winnipeg claimed the Finnish veteran on waivers from Tampa Bay on Dec. 13, but the move has not panned out for the Jets. Miettinen has not scored, managed just four assists and been a healthy scratch four times.

"I think that with Miettinen I would like to see more of his play, a little bit better play," Noel said. "I've spoken with him about that."

Quote of the Day

He is, in my opinion, one of the best defensemen in the NHL and continuing to grow. I think his game, from an offensive standpoint, he continues to drive our offense... I think there's still tremendous upside for Oliver.

— Coyotes GM Don Maloney on defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson