Game Day Preview: Jets @ Panthers
When: Tuesday, March 5, 2013
Time: 6:30 p.m. CST
Where: BB & T Center, Sunrise, Florida
Records: Winnipeg Jets (10-10-1 – 10th in East), Florida Panthers (6-11-5 – 15th in East)
Television/Radio: TSN-JETS, FS-F/ TSN 1290
The Story: The Winnipeg Jets kick off their four game road trip tonight against the Florida Panthers looking to erase the stench of last Saturday afternoon’s 3-0 loss to the Washington Capitals.
Heading into tonight’s game, the Jets have been a tough team to characterize. We are just over six weeks into the abbreviated 2013 regular season and Winnipeg is only two points out of a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, fighting tooth and nail for respectability around the National Hockey League. If you were to ask five different people about this team, you may very well get 10 different answers. Is Winnipeg for real? Do the Jets give an honest effort every night? Do the Jets have enough scoring to compete with the elite teams in the NHL? These questions are difficult to answer and the simple reality is the young Jets are quite puzzling and have us scratching our heads on most nights.
The upcoming road trip will see Winnipeg play the 15th place Florida Panthers twice, tonight and again on Friday, March 8 (6:30 p.m.) while also playing The Tampa Bay Lightning (Thursday, March 7th) and New Jersey Devils (Sunday, March 10th). The good news is the Jets are 6-4-0 on the road to start the season, including winning six of their last seven games dating back to a 1-0 win over the Ottawa Senators on Saturday, February 9th.
A major issue for Winnipeg continues to be secondary scoring. After top producers Andrew Ladd, Evander Kane and Blake Wheeler , the Jets are not getting enough production from other players. Bryan Little has three goals in 21 games, Olli Jokinen has five goals in 21 games and Nikolai Antropov has one goal in 21 games which is simply not good enough. The Jets need more distributed scoring or they will continue to have results like the 3-0 loss to the Washington Capitals in their last game.
Florida enters tonight’s game losers of their last two games, back-to-back losses to their division rival Carolina Hurricanes, 3-2 on Sunday night in Florida and 6-2 on Saturday night in Carolina. The Panthers have only won three of their last ten games and are quickly finding themselves on the outside looking in as it relates to the Eastern Conference playoff race. Despite their record, Florida is still a hard-working team that has many players who can burn you on the scoresheet, starting with super-rookie Jonathan Huberdeau, who is currently 2nd in rookie scoring with 15 points.
The Jets can definitely take advantage of Florida’s defense and goaltending. Heading into tonight’s game, the Panthers are ranked 30th in the NHL, averaging 3.68 goals against per game.
Anthony Peluso will not play for the Jets tonight as he injured his hand fighting Aaron Volpatti on Saturday. Expect Antti Miettinen to check back into the line-up to replace Peluso while Kyle Wellwood will be back in the line-up in place of Chris Thorburn. Wellwood has been a healthy scratch the last four games.
Today’s game is the third of five meetings between the Jets and Panthers this year. The Panthers defeated the Jets 6-3 on January 31st in the first meeting of the season which was followed less than a week later by a 3-2 Jets victory in overtime on Tuesday, February 5th. The Jets and Panthers will meet again later this week on Friday, March 8th (6:30 p.m. CST). The fifth and final meeting of the season between the two teams will be on Thursday, April 11th (7:00 p.m. CST).
Ondrej Pavelec is expected to start in goal for the Jets tonight.
Follow @IllegalCurve on Twitter leading up to today’s game.
Projected Jets line combinations (subject to change before game time):
1st: Andrew Ladd- Bryan Little- Blake Wheeler
2nd: Evander Kane-Nikolai Antropov- Alexander Burmistrov
3rd: James Wright– Olli Jokinen- Antti Miettinen
4th: Eric Tangradi- Jim Slater – Kyle Wellwood
Ron Hainsey- Zach Bogosian
Dustin Byfuglien- Grant Clitsome
Paul Postma- Mark Stuart
Florida Panthers: Brian Campbell (6 goals, 9 assists, 15 points), Tomas Fleischmann (5 goals, 10 assists, 15 points), Jonathan Huberdeau (10 goals, 5 assists, 15 points)
Winnipeg Jets: Andrew Ladd (12 goals, 8 assists, 20 points), Evander Kane (9 goals, 9 assists, 18 points), Blake Wheeler (7 goals, 10 assists, 17 points)
Florida Panthers: Stephen Weiss (wrist, out for rest of season), Dmitry Kulikov (upper body), Jose Theodore (groin), Mike Weaver (lower body), Scottie Upshall (ankle), Kris Versteeg (chest), Ed Jovanovski (knee)
Winnipeg Jets: Anthony Peluso (hand), Tobias Enstrom (shoulder), Zach Redmond (leg), Antti Miettinen (lower body)
Who’s Next: After tonight’s game, the Jets play the Tampa Bay Lightning on Thursday, March 6th (6:30 p.m. CST). The Jets will play the Panthers again on Friday, March 8th, (6:30 p.m. CST) and will then wrap the road trip up on Sunday, March 10th against the New Jersey Devils (6:00 p.m. CST).