Game Day Preview: Hurricanes @ Jets
When: Saturday, March 30, 2013
Time: 2:00 p.m. CST
Where: MTS Centre, Winnipeg, Manitoba
Records: Winnipeg Jets (18-15-2 – 3rd in East), Carolina Hurricanes (15-15-2- 10th in East)
Television/Radio: FS-CR, TSN-JETS/TSN 1290
The Story: To say that this afternoon’s game between the Winnipeg Jets and Carolina Hurricanes is big would be the understatement of the year.
The reality is the game is massive.
Winnipeg lost 4-0 to the Pittsburgh Penguins on Thursday night and will look to get back into the win column today after a disappointing effort in their last game against the best team in the Eastern Conference, and arguably, the entire National Hockey League. Despite Thursday’s loss, the Jets still hold down 3rd place in the East via their Southeast Division lead and are six points up on Carolina (1oth in East) and seven points up on the Washington Capitals (11th in East) for the division lead.
Carolina enters today’s game on a four game losing streak. After losing 4-1 to the Jets on Tuesday, the Hurricanes were defeated 6-3 by the Toronto Maple Leafs and have won just two of their last 10 games, remarkable for a team loaded with offensive talent.
Similar to the Winnipeg Jets, the Hurricanes have been wildly inconsistent this year and have struggled on the defensive end of the game. Carolina is ranked 22nd in the NHL in goals against per game (2.97 goals/game, Winnipeg is ranked 21st, 2.89 goals/game) and are currently without the services of number-1 netminder Cam Ward, who has missed the last month with a knee sprain.
26-year-old Justin Peters has played the last two games for the Hurricanes and has played 7 games this year with a record of 2-4-0, a 3.18 Goals Against Average and .899 save percentage. Ellis will accompany the Hurricanes to Winnipeg but it is not known if he will start tonight as he also been suffering from a leg injury.
One of the key matchups in today’s game will be Carolina’s number 1 line of Jiri Tlusty-Eric Staal-Alexander Semin against the Jets No.1 defense pairing of Tobias Enstrom and Dustin Byfuglien. The trio of Tlusty, Staal and Semin have put up big offensive numbers all year and the result of tonight’s game will have a lot to do with the Jets ability to shut down these three forwards.
Ondrej Pavelec is expected to start in net for the Jets tonight. It will be Pavelec’s 32nd start of the season.
This is the third of four meetings between Carolina and Winnipeg this year with the Jets leading the season series with two wins (4-3 win on February 21st and 4-1 earlier this week). The fourth and final meeting of the season between the two teams takes place on Thursday April 18th in Winnipeg (7:00 p.m. CST).
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-Olli Jokinen- Antti Miettinen
3rd: Patrice Cormier– Nikolai Antropov- Kyle Wellwood
4th: Eric Tangradi- Alexander Burmistrov – Chris Thorburn
Tobias Enstrom- Dustin Byfuglien
Zach Bogosian- Ron Hainsey
Derek Meech- Grant Clitsome
Carolina Hurricanes: Eric Staal (15 goals, 21 assists, 36 points), Alexander Semin (9 goals, 23 assists, 32 points), Jiri Tlusty (14 goals, 9 assists, 23 points)
Winnipeg Jets: Andrew Ladd (14 goals, 18 assists, 32 points), Blake Wheeler (14 goals, 14 assists, 28 points) Evander Kane (13 goals, 12 assists, 25 points)
Carolina Hurricanes: Chad LaRose (illness), Dan Ellis (leg), Bobby Sanguinetti (upper body), Justin Faulk (knee), Cam Ward (knee)
Winnipeg Jets: Zach Redmond (leg), Anthony Peluso (hand), Jim Slater (upper body), Mark Stuart (upper body), James Wright (undisclosed)
Who’s Next: After today, the Jets play their next three games on the road. On Monday, April 1, the Jets will play the New York Rangers (6:00 p.m. CST) followed by a game against the New York Islanders on Tuesday, April 2nd (6:00 p.m. CST). The third game of the road trip is Thursday, April 4th against the Montreal Canadiens (6:30 p.m. CST).
QUICKIES….The Jets have played 7 afternoon games so far this year and their record is 2-4-1……