WINNIPEG -- It will be a special, lavender-filled night at MTS Centre when the Winnipeg Jets face off with the Philadelphia Flyers (4-6-3).
The Jets (8-4-2) will be hosting their annual Hockey Fights Cancer night tonight, before heading back on the road for another four-game swing.
“I think it’s a special moment obviously for everyone that has been affected by cancer. I’m sure everyone is in some sort of fashion. It makes you think about the people that have been affected by it in your life,” said captain Andrew Ladd. “It’s cool to meet the people, especially young kids, that have the strength and the courage to battle a disease like that and come to the rink with a smile on their face.”
To see all of the Winnipeg Jets Hockey Fights Cancer initiatives, click here.
As for the game itself, the Jets will be looking to avenge losing both of last year’s match ups with the Flyers.
Coach Paul Maurice announced Nic Petan is feeling “under the weather,” will not play tonight. Patrice Cormier, called up from the Manitoba Moose prior to Wednesday’s game against the Toronto Maple Leafs, will see his first NHL action of the season.
“I’ve got a comfort level with Patrice. He’s really good positionally. He actually makes more plays than I think he gets credit for in terms of outs and passes out of the zone,” said Maurice, who has liked what he’s seen from the fourth line this season. “Our fourth line is a +9 for us. I have a greater comfort level of playing them. Some things go hand in hand. Blake (Wheeler)’s minutes are down about a minute or so … and they’re producing more. The fourth line has been important for us.”
Another line-up change appears to be on the blue line. Tyler Myers skated with Jacob Trouba (a pairing that Maurice said he liked late in the 3-2 shootout loss to Ottawa), and Paul Postma filled Trouba’s usual spot with Mark Stuart this morning. Like Cormier, this will be Postma’s first NHL regular season game in 2015-2016.
“He’s played enough games in the NHL, I don’t want to give him a laundry list to think about before he goes out and plays,” said Maurice. “If he was a first-year guy that hadn’t played I might spend some time. We know he’s ready. He’s pushed himself.”
That push will be key tonight, especially with both teams a little road weary. This will be Philadelphia’s final game of a five-game road trip (a stretch where they’ve gone 0-3-1). The Jets just finished a 2-1-1 road trip of their own.
“This is one of these games, you may see four, five, or six different teams on the ice,” said Maurice. “Who you are in the first 10 minutes may be a little different than who you are in the next 10. For me, I’m going to try to be watching for those changes. There are parts of the game you won’t control, but you want to be as fast as you can.”
The Jets have yet to lose two in a row this season, and Ladd said that’s a stat the dressing room is proud of.
“It’s something we take pride in. Especially after a tough loss, whether it was in Montreal or even last game, it kind of motivates you to get back at it,” he said. “I think we have enough guys in here that care about winning hockey games and doing the right things that we get a little edge that we need to be better.”
One of the keys to keeping that stat going tonight, according to Maurice, is keeping an eye on Claude Giroux (seven points in 13 games) and Jakub Voracek.
“They were two really dominant offensive players. The talent hasn’t gone away,” said Maurice. “They’ve had a bit of a rough start, but if that emerges tonight, you’ve got a real problem on your hand.
“The reason Philadelphia can beat us tonight is the same reason we feel we can go into Dallas and win. It’s the National Hockey League and the teams are all close enough.”
Puck drop at MTS Centre is slated for 6 pm CT.
COPP CREEPING CLOSER
After scoring his first NHL goal against Columbus on October 31, Andrew Copp has been nursing an upper-body injury that has kept him out of the line-up.
“We’re expecting Andrew to skate Monday. But we’re going to have to wait three or four probably more days until we get a real, far more definitive timeline on this,” Maurice said. “But he’ll go back on the ice for the IR skate on Monday.”
The Jets Head Coach added that he’s seen a lot of improvement in Copp’s game as his first full NHL season progressed.
“There were hockey mistakes. There were things you’d like to see him do better, but there weren’t a lot of positional mistakes or thought mistakes on the ice,” said Maurice. “Then the next question is, ‘he understands the game, now how fast can he get?’ He was getting faster, and that line was getting zone time and getting chances to score. His face-off numbers were really improving ... I thought he was on a real nice plane of improvement.”
-- Mitchell Clinton, WinnipegJets.com