WINNIPEG – The made-over Winnipeg Jets will attempt to end their four-game losing streak Saturday when they meet the Columbus Blue Jackets at MTS Centre.
The Blue Jackets claimed a 3-0 home win against the Carolina Hurricanes on Friday before making the long flight to Winnipeg. The Blue Jackets' early-morning arrival in Winnipeg meant that they did not hold a morning skate Saturday.
Winnipeg's slide to the bottom of the Central Division has spurred coach Claude Noel to shuffle all four of his forward lines, headlined by defenseman Dustin Byfuglien assuming a spot on the right side of the Jets' top unit with Bryan Little and captain Andrew Ladd.
"It's something I've just got to go out and do," Byfuglien said of his switch to forward. "I'm just here to work."
Noel said he will be patient with Byfuglien, who had a limited stint at forward last season.
"It's a lot different playing forward and defense, Noel said. "I think we have to be patient in our assessment of things."
Right wing Blake Wheeler, who leads the Jets with 16 goals and will represent the United States at the 2014 Sochi Olympics, will move to the Jets' third line centered by Olli Jokinen. Right wing Devin Setoguchi, whom Noel benched in a 4-2 home loss Tuesday against the Tampa Bay Lightning, will move to the left side of the line in an attempt to end his 17-game goalless streak.
Left wing Evander Kane, who has helped anchor the Jets' hottest line of late with rookie Mark Scheifele and Michael Frolik, will miss the game with a hand injury. Kane participated in the Jets' morning skate for 10 minutes before leaving the ice. Kane's absence will mean that rookie Eric O'Dell will move to left wing with Scheifele and Frolik.
Now Noel will see how his team adjusts to his lineup shuffle.
"Well, for me, I don't just throw stuff on the wall and see what sticks," Noel said. "I'm trying to calculate this thing and see what works best. There's always risk. You don't know. You don't know [whether] it's going to be the solution or not. You try and see how it goes."
The Jets also recalled defenseman Zach Redmond from the St. John's IceCaps, their American Hockey League affiliate, Friday to supplement a blue line that will be without Byfuglien, who leads the Jets and in average time on ice at 26:03, which is good for fifth in the League.
Derek MacKenzie is eligible to return to the Blue Jackets' lineup after serving his three-game suspension.
The Blue Jackets have not announced their starting goaltender. Sergei Bobrovsky has started the Blue Jackets' past two games and delivered a 36-save shutout against Carolina. The Jets will start Ondrej Pavelec.
Here are the probable lineups for the Blue Jackets and Jets:
Boone Jenner - Artem Anisimov - Nathan Horton
Nick Foligno - Ryan Johansen - RJ Umberger
Matt Calvert - Brandon Dubinsky - Cam Atkinson
Derek MacKenzie - Mark Letestu - Corey Tropp
Fedor Tyutin - Jack Johnson
Ryan Murray - James Wisniewski
Nikita Nikitin - David Savard
Scratched: Ryan Craig, Dalton Prout
Injured: Cody Bass (thumb), Jared Boll (foot), Blake Comeau (knee), Marian Gaborik (collarbone), Jack Skille (upper body)
Andrew Ladd - Bryan Little - Dustin Byfuglien
Eric O'Dell - Mark Scheifele - Michael Frolik
Devin Setoguchi - Olli Jokinen - Blake Wheeler
Eric Tangradi - James Wright – Chris Thorburn
Zach Bogosian - Tobias Enstrom
Mark Stuart - Jacob Trouba
Adam Pardy – Keaton Ellerby
Scratched: Anthony Peluso, Zach Redmond
Injured: Grant Clitsome (back), Matt Halischuk (forearm), Evander Kane (hand) Paul Postma (blood clot), Jim Slater (sports hernia)