By Kyle Shohara
WINNIPEG – Mother Nature is doing its best to foreshadow what is about to happen inside MTS Centre tonight in a pivotal Game 3 between the Ducks and Jets.
A steady stream of snow fell on the streets outside the downtown Winnipeg arena after a rather mild week in Manitoba’s capital, and tonight Jets fans will do their best to make MTS Centre a true whiteout. The Jets are selling white clothing, including T-shirts and sweatshirts, and other types of merchandise in an effort to bring back a tradition made famous by the original Winnipeg franchise.
Injured center Nate Thompson skated with the team this morning, though Ducks head coach Bruce Boudreau ruled him out for tonight’s game. He says it’s a sign the veteran center is getting closer to returning and labeled Game 4 as a possibility.
And with rookie Chris Wagner injured (upper body, Game 2), veteran forward Tomas Fleischmann took rushes in the center positon alongside Emerson Etem and Tim Jackman. Fleischmann played center for three months under Boudreau in Washington. “He anchored the second line with [Alex] Semin and Brooks Laich at the time,” said Boudreau. “He did very well. That’s an option, but we’ve got a couple options there.”
Also on the ice was rookie forward Stefan Noesen, recalled earlier from Norfolk of the American Hockey League. Noesen made his NHL debut on April 3rd vs. Colorado. Acquired from Ottawa with Jakob Silfverberg and a first-round selection in the 2014 NHL Draft in exchange for Bobby Ryan on July 5, 2013, Noesen has earned 16 points (7g/9a) with 31 penalty minutes in 29 career AHL games with the Admirals.
WEATHER THE STORM
After 19 years, the Stanley Cup Playoffs have returned to the city of Winnipeg. It’s going to be loud, and it’s going to be a sight to behold, but Boudreau says the atmosphere won’t change how his team plays.
“We know the environment, and we know what’s happened in the past when they’ve played teams where they had to win in this environment,” said Boudreau, referring to Winnipeg’s hot streak during the final months of the season. “The emphasis won’t change from what we want to accomplish and how we play the first period. We’ll be more aware because it’ll be louder than most times.”
Corey Perry says the Ducks will have to use controlled emotion to prevent themselves from getting caught up in moment. “If you just keep your emotions in check, know what’s going on the bench, and all those little things, you’re going to be okay,” he said. “We know they’re going to be fired up. They’ve been waiting a long time for this opportunity. It’s going to be loud. We know that. We just have to weather the storm and use our emotions to our advantage.”
“This is what the playoffs are all about,” said captain Ryan Getzlaf. “It’s fun when you get all the fans against you, all the fans chanting. It’s a good time out there.”
Getzlaf says he’ll draw from experience to help settle the room, but in the end, it’s all about normal game preparation. “We’re just going through our normal routine. It’s about preparing for a hockey game. It’s going to be a loud building. We’re going to look around and enjoy it because this is what hockey is all about. I love these kinds of situations.”POTENTIAL LINE COMBINATIONS
Patrick Maroon-Ryan Getzlaf-Corey Perry
Matt Beleskey-Ryan Kesler-Kyle Palmieri
Andrew Cogliano-Rickard Rakell-Jakob Silfverberg
Emerson Etem-Tomas Fleischmann-Tim Jackman
Hampus Lindholm-Francois Beauchemin
Cam Fowler-Simon Despres
Clayton Stoner-Sami Vatanen