JETS (28-18-10) at PREDATORS (36-12-6)
NASHVILLE -- The Winnipeg Jets will welcome a couple of new faces to the lineup against the Nashville Predators at Bridgestone Arena on Thursday.
Winnipeg traded forward Evander Kane, defenseman Zach Bogosian, and goaltending prospect Jason Kasdorf to the Buffalo Sabres for defenseman Tyler Myers, forward Drew Stafford, forward prospects Joel Armia and Brendan Lemieux, and a first-round pick in the 2015 NHL Draft.
“I was in Buffalo nine years, so that’s quite a long time,” Stafford said. “I’ve been through a lot. I’ve been on a team that was first place, and I’ve been on a team that’s 30th place there. With the change in personnel over the years, this is one of those things. My contract was up so I kind of knew what was coming, but at the same time, definitely a welcome change considering the way the team’s been going the last couple of years. It’s extremely exciting to be back into the hunt.”
Stafford joined a line with Mathieu Perreault and Mark Scheifele at the morning skate. Myers was paired with Tobias Enstrom.
“Just taking a couple passes and trying to make some plays with these guys this morning is pretty awesome with the pace of play,” Stafford said. “I’m going to do my best to try and be strong for them down low and hang onto the puck and try to create some space for them, and also if they’re not afraid to set me up for a couple, I’ll see if I can put it away for them.”
Winnipeg will integrate two new players into the lineup against the number one team in the League. Nashville has won five of its past six games.
“They’re like how we’re trying to be on every night,” Jets coach Paul Maurice said. “They’re hard to play against; there’s no easy ice. We run fairly similar systems, and there’s nothing given.”
The Predators are a League-best 22-3-1 at home and have won 11 of the past 12 games here. The 22 home wins are tied with the Tampa Bay Lightning for the most in the NHL.
“It’s always a little bit more comfortable at home, I think, but I can’t explain it,” Predators coach Peter Laviolette said. “There’s no difference from what we’re selling or what we’re preaching.”
Nashville said they expect a good test from Winnipeg, and a battle for time and space on the ice. There hasn’t been much room for Nashville’s forwards in the games between the two teams this season.
“They’re a good hockey team,” Laviolette said. “I guess if you’ve got to wrap it all up into something, they’re probably hungry to make the playoffs and in a situation where they need to win games. Our games against them have been terrific. Sometimes the games go wide open a little bit more. These games seem to be a little tighter, not quite as much room either way. You’ve got to battle and fight for what you get out there.”
Here are the projected lineups:
Andrew Ladd – Bryan Little – Blake Wheeler
Mathieu Perreault – Mark Scheifele – Drew Stafford
Michael Frolik – Adam Lowry – Chris Thorburn
TJ Galiardi – Jim Slater – Anthony Peluso
Ben Chiarot – Dustin Byfuglien
Tobias Enstrom – Tyler Myers
Mark Stuart – Jacob Trouba
Scratched: Paul Postma, Jay Harrison, Adam Pardy
Injured: Grant Clitsome (back), Matt Halischuk (lower body)
Filip Forsberg – Mike Ribeiro – Craig Smith
Colin Wilson – Mike Fisher – James Neal
Matt Cullen – Calle Jarnkrok – Gabriel Bourque
Eric Nystrom – Paul Gaustad – Taylor Beck
Roman Josi – Shea Weber
Anton Volchenkov – Seth Jones
Anthony Bitetto – Victor Bartley
Scratched: Viktor Stalberg, Olli Jokinen
Injured: Ryan Ellis (lower body), Mattias Ekholm (upper body)
Status report: Myers was paired with Enstrom at the morning skate. … Stafford joined Perreault and Scheifele on the second line. … Pavelec was the first goalie off the ice for Winnipeg and is expected to start. … Ekholm participated in the morning skate in the place of Weber. … Wilson is still listed as day-to-day but could play against Winnipeg.
Who’s hot: Byfuglien has one goal and three assists in his past two games while playing forward. … Jones has three goals and two assists in his past five games for a career-high five-game point streak.