Game Day Preview: Sabres @ Jets
When: Monday, March 5, 2012
Time: 7:00 p.m. CST
Where: MTS Centre, Winnipeg, Manitoba
Records: Winnipeg Jets (31-27-8), Buffalo Sabres (30-27-8)
Television/Radio: NBCSN (HD),TSN-JETS/ TSN 1290 Radio
The Story: After a three-day break, the Winnipeg Jets are back in business tonight as they will close out their eight-game home stand with a pivotal game against the streaking Buffalo Sabres.
The Jets have been idle since last Thursday’s 7-0 shellacking of the Florida Panthers and since that win, the Sabres have closed to within two points of the Jets, who hold down the 8th and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference with 70 points.
In a remarkable turn of events, both the Sabres and Tampa Bay Lightning, who were both sellers at the NHL’s Trade Deadline last week, have re-emerged as contenders for the last playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.
Tampa Bay, who jettisoned Pavel Kubina, Steve Downie and Dominic Moore out of town less than two weeks ago, have won four games in a row and are also two points back of the Jets (The Jets and Lightning play twice more this season, on March 31st in Tampa and April 7th in Winnipeg).
The Jets have fared well against the Sabres this year. In three head-to-head meetings with the Sabres, the Jets have won two games and lost one (in overtime). The Jets have scored 11 goals in three games against the Sabres and have managed to shut down top scorers Jason Pominville, Thomas Vanek and Derek Roy in the last two meetings (2-1 Jets overtime victory on January 7th in Buffalo and 4-1 Jets victory on January 19th in Winnipeg).
The goal will be simple for the Jets tonight as they will look to conclude a long, productive home stand with yet another win. The Jets have a record of 4-1-2 so far on the home stand which has improved the team’s overall-home record this season to 20-10-4. During the last seven games, the Jets have scored 10 power play goals which has vaulted the team to the #1 Home Power Play in the entire NHL (25.2%).
Jets sniper Evander Kane enters tonight’s game riding an eight-game points streak (7 goals, 7 assists, 14 points).
Jets defenseman Zach Bogosian will not play for the Jets tonight. Bogosian left Sunday’s practice after he re-aggravated an injury that kept him out of the line-up for seven games in February.
Coach Claude Noel has not indicated who will dress in place of Bogosian but he hinted that it might be newcomer Grant Clitsome, who was acquired last week off waivers from the Columbus Blue Jackets.
Ondrej Pavelec is expected to get his third consecutive start in goal for the Jets tonight.
Projected Jets line combinations:
1st: Andrew Ladd-Bryan Little- Blake Wheeler
2nd: Evander Kane- Alexander Burmistrov- Kyle Wellwood
3rd: Tanner Glass- Jim Slater- Chris Thorburn
4th: Tim Stapleton- Nikolai Antropov -Antti Miettinen
Dustin Byfuglien- Tobias Enstrom
Ron Hainsey-Grant Clitsome
Randy Jones-Mark Stuart
Buffalo Sabres: Jason Pominville (23 goals, 36 assists, 59 points), Thomas Vanek (22 goals, 25 assists, 47 points), Derek Roy (14 goals, 22 assists, 36 points)
Winnipeg Jets: Blake Wheeler (14 goals, 39 assists, 53 points), Evander Kane (26 goals, 20 assists, 46 points), Dustin Byfuglien (10 goals, 32 assists, 42 points)
Buffalo Sabres: Cody McCormick (concussion), Jochen Hecht (concussion)
Winnipeg Jets: Zach Bogosian (upper-body)
Who’s Next: The Jets next game is on Thursday, March 8th, on the road, against the Vancouver Canucks (9:00 p.m. CST).
QUICKIES…..Ondrej Pavelec has faced 1,615 shots against this season, which is 7th most in the NHL…..Mark Stuart leads the Jets with 94 penalty minutes…..Ron Hainsey (42 games played, no goals) and Antti Miettinen (30 games, no goals) are still looking for their first goals of the season…..