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Stars wary of long layoff as they prepare for Jets

by Patrick Williams /

WINNIPEG -- After losing two straight, the Winnipeg Jets open a season-long six-game homestand against the well-rested Dallas Stars Friday night at MTS Centre.

The Jets (2-2-0) dropped their second consecutive game, a 2-1 loss against the Minnesota Wild on Thursday night. The Stars (1-1-0) have not played since last Saturday, when they defeated the Washington Capitals, 2-1.

After 14 years in the former Pacific Division, the Stars will play their first divisional matchup as a member of the new Central Division. Dallas leads the all-time series between the teams 11-2-1.

Dallas coach Lindy Ruff is wary of his team's six-day layoff.

"Those one-on-one compete situations that are hard to simulate in practice. That [is what] you've got to be ready for," Ruff said after the Stars' morning skate at MTS Centre. "Teams that have played more games are usually into those combat situations. To play a couple of games and then sit around for [six] days, I think it always hurts a team."

In the Jets' first-ever Central Division game Thursday, Minnesota outshot Winnipeg 30-15, and the Jets won just 16 of 61 faceoffs, a 26.2 percent rate, as their struggles in the faceoff circle continue. The Jets' 37.6 percentage ranks last in the League.

"We didn't generate a lot," Jets coach Claude Noel said of his team's night in Minnesota. "We never started with the puck much, didn't play with the puck much. [Minnesota] had a hand in that. They played a Western Conference playoff-type game."

Ruff, whose Stars rank 13th in the League with a 51.2 percent faceoff rate, would like to see his team exploit the Jets in the faceoff circle.

"We had a little bit of that issue through the preseason with our centermen," Ruff said, "where we've worked hard to get to 50 percent or a little better and have the puck a little more and can create offense off winning draws instead of playing defense right away and trying to chase opponents around.

"Shots are tough to get. Chances are tough to get, so when I look at [Winnipeg's] game, it's a game where if we can win the faceoff battle, we can maybe get the edge our way."

After two years in the Eastern Conference, the Jets' adjustment to the Western Conference continues, and Noel is staying with an upbeat approach.

"The first thing that I've got to do," Noel said, "is provide guidance to individuals and the team and remain on the positive side, because there is a lot of negativity around our team and frustration because of the lack of results."

Dallas will start Kari Lehtonen in net against the franchise that drafted him with the second pick in the 2002 NHL Draft when they were the Atlanta Thrashers. Winnipeg will again turn to Ondrej Pavelec, who has started every game for the Jets this season.

Here are the projected lineups for the Stars and Jets on Friday:


Jamie BennTyler SeguinRich Peverley

Ray Whitney - Cody Eakin - Alex Chiasson

Antoine Roussel - Shawn Horcoff - Erik Cole

Ryan Garbutt - Vernon Fiddler - Valeri Nichushkin

Alex Goligoski - Sergei Gonchar

Trevor Daley - Jordie Benn

Brendan Dillon - Stephane Robidas

Kari Lehtonen

Dan Ellis

Scratches: Kevin Connauton, Lane MacDermid, Chris Mueller

Injured: Aaron Rome (hip)


Andrew Ladd - Bryan Little - Blake Wheeler

Evander Kane - Mark Scheifele - Devin Setoguchi

Eric Tangradi - Olli Jokinen - Michael Frolik

James Wright - Jim SlaterMatt Halischuk

Tobias Enstrom - Dustin Byfuglien

Zach Bogosian - Jacob Trouba

Mark Stuart - Grant Clitsome

Ondrej Pavelec

Al Montoya

Scratched: Anthony Peluso, Paul Postma

Injured: Chris Thorburn (lower body)

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