NEW YORK -- For the first time this season, the Winnipeg Jets (2-1-0) will be looking to rebound from a loss when they take on the New York Rangers tonight at Madison Square Garden.
After wins over the Boston Bruins and New Jersey Devils to start the season, the Jets came up short yesterday afternoon against the New York Islanders.
“I think we’re definitely looking for a response. We went over some video this morning, and there’s not much to talk about. We were extremely sloppy in many ways and there’s definitely a lot of things we need to clean up,” said forward Drew Stafford. “It’s real early still, but at the same time there are a lot of little habits that we can take care of now. The beauty of this is we get a great chance to respond instead of sitting on that game for a few days.”
The Jets have yet to score in the opening period of any game this season, while the Rangers (3-0-0) have feasted on teams early, outscoring their opponents 7-1 in the opening 20 minutes.
Head Coach Paul Maurice says it’s too early in the season to read too much into how the Jets have played in first periods so far.
“We had two home openers, they came with energy, we were in the box for seven minutes for the first period (yesterday). We just weren’t good,” said Maurice. “Our starts, the New York Rangers scored first one more time than we did, which put us second in the league last year. We have at least a one-year history of starting very well, three games doesn’t make a trend yet. We’ll be better at the start tonight.”
Good news came from today’s morning skate at Madison Square Garden, as defenceman Dustin Byfuglien appears good to go after leaving the Islanders game with an injury. The rest of the line-up remains un-changed, the only exception being Michael Hutchinson will get his second start of the season,
following Ondrej Pavelec’s 40-save performance in Brooklyn:
Ladd – Little – Wheeler
Perreault – Scheifele – Ehlers
Burmistrov – Lowry – Stafford
Thorburn – Copp – Petan
Chiarot – Byfuglien
Enstrom – Myers
Stuart – Trouba
“Pavelec got enough work last night, and he was good, really good,” said Maurice. “We get an opportunity on these back-to-backs, we have two good goaltenders, it’s a good time to get them both in before we go on a little home stand. We’re not in a rotation in my mind, it’s just the way the schedule has played out.”
The Jets won 23 times following a loss in 2014-2015. Stafford says this is a good opportunity for this year’s squad to re-establish that.
“We don’t want to fall into the ‘oh it’s early’ kind of excuse. We want to make sure we’re taking care of business right away,” said Stafford. “It’s those habits and that kind of attitude that no matter what time of year it is, we can get into a routine that if something does happen or a game slips away, you’re not going to expect 82 perfect games.
“At the same time, we know how we can respond based on last year. We have pretty much the same personnel in that room, so a lot of the guys are saying the same thing we’re excited to get right back at it.”
The Rangers didn’t skate this morning, but Head Coach Alain Vigneault said yesterday that goaltender Henrik Lundqvist will get the start, and Winnipeg product Dylan McIlrath will see his first action of this
NHL season, replacing veteran Dan Boyle on the blue line.
With a win tonight, the Jets would fly back to Winnipeg with three wins on the road trip.
“It would be a good start,” said Maurice. “A good test in here tonight; lots of speed. We’ll have to be back on our game. I thought we had our speed right in New Jersey. It wasn’t great for us last night. We’ll have to be back skating.”
-- Mitchell Clinton, WinnipegJets.com