WINNIPEG – The 2015 pre-season schedule comes to a close tonight as the Winnipeg Jets face off with the Calgary Flames at Scotiabank Saddledome.
Based on the pre-game skate earlier today in Winnipeg, the Jets will be going with the following forward line combinations and defence pairs:
Nic Petan - Bryan Little - Blake Wheeler
Mathieu Perreault - Mark Scheifele - Nikolaj Ehlers
Thomas Raffl - Alexander Burmistrov - Drew Stafford
Chris Thorburn - Andrew Copp - Anthony Peluso
Toby Enstrom - Tyler Myers
Mark Stuart - Jacob Trouba
Ben Chiarot - Paul Postma
Ondrej Pavelec will get the start in goal. Pavelec has a 2.56 goals-against average and a .916 save percentage in three pre-season appearances.
Calgary is likely to dress a more veteran group after falling 3-1 Thursday at MTS Centre. According to Pat Steinberg of Sportsnet 960 The FAN radio, the Flames’ lines and D pairs were as follows at today’s morning skate.
Johnny Gaudreau - Sean Monahan - Jiri Hudler
Lance Bouma - Mikael Backlund - Michael Frolik
Micheal Ferland - Sam Bennett - Josh Jooris
Brandon Bollig - Matt Stajan - David Jones
Mark Giordano - Dougie Hamilton
Kris Russell - Dennis Wideman
Brett Kulak - Deryk Engelland
Defencemen Ladislav Smid and TJ Brodie remain out with undisclosed injuries.
Karri Ramo will get the nod between the pipes.
“This should be their (opening night) lineup tonight,” Postma said. “This is basically going to be like a regular season game. It’s going to be an exciting game – a good pace, high tempo. It’s always fun when we play these guys.”
Postma has appeared in only one pre-season game after nursing a minor injury early on in training camp. The 26-year-old is coming off an injury-plagued 2014-15 campaign and with nine defenceman currently on the roster, he’s looking forward to the opportunity to prove himself here tonight.
“I feel 100 percent now,” he said. “Doesn’t matter what you do in the summer, nothing compares to the speed of this game. I’m feeling a bit better each practice, getting closer to game shape, more confident with the puck…
“I’m excited for tonight.”
Postma had two goals and six points in 42 games last year before being shut down with what Head Coach Paul Maurice described as a “significant” lower-body injury sustained in the Jets’ 2-1 win over the Tampa Bay Lightning on Mar. 14. The Alberta product played one of the best games of his career that night, seeing a season-high 23 minutes and one second of ice time.
Nikolaj Ehlers, Andrew Copp, Thomas Raffl and Nic Petan have one last chance to impress.
Head Coach Paul Maurice did not hold a press conference today, but did touch on the rookies following yesterday’s practice. The takeaway? He, the rest of the staff and General Manager Kevin Cheveldayoff are all looking for “one more game” to reinforce what they’ve already accomplished over the past three weeks.
“We’re looking for one more of those games so that at the end of the exhibition season, you can say that you saw enough of it consistently and that you might see it in an opening game,” Maurice said.
“Then they just have to do it another 82 times,” he added with a smirk.
The 23-man roster is due on Tuesday, Oct. 6. The Jets open the 2015-16 season two days later against the Boston Bruins at TD Garden.
– Ryan Dittrick, WinnipegJets.com