Game Day Preview: Jets @ Rangers
When: Monday, April 1, 2013
Time: 6:00 p.m. CST
Where: Madison Square Garden, New York, New York
Records: Winnipeg Jets (18-16-2 – 3rd in East), New York Rangers (16-15-3- 8th in East)
Television/Radio: MSG, TSN-JETS/TSN 1290
The Story: It’s going to feel longer than a New York minute for the Winnipeg Jets over the next two days as they play the New York Rangers tonight at Madison Square Garden followed by game against the New York Islanders tomorrow night at Nassau Coliseum.
The Jets have lost two games in a row but still hold down 3rd place in the Eastern Conference although the Carolina Hurricanes are now only four points behind them for the Southeast Division lead after beating the Jets 3-1 on Saturday afternoon at the MTS Centre. Winnipeg has been outscored 7-1 in their last two losses to the Hurricanes and Pittsburgh Penguins, an alarming trend that has Jets fans in Winnipeg feeling a little concerned these days.
The Rangers enter tonight’s game in 8th place in the East but losers of their last two games, most recently a 3-0 loss to the Montreal Canadiens on CBC’s Hockey Night in Canada. New York has won only three of their last ten games so tonight’s game will be slump-buster for at least one team with less than one month to go in the 2013 regular season.
New York is expected to be a buyer before Wednesday’s trade deadline as they have plenty of cap room. The Rangers are said to be looking to acquire a top-four defenseman as Marc Staal is still out of the line-up with an eye injury and it is still not known if he will return to the line-up before the Stanley Cup Playoffs begin. Staal has not played since March 5 against the Philadelphia Flyers when he took a puck to the eye.
The Jets, on the other hand, cannot seem to buy a goal these days. Olli Jokinen scored his 7th goal of the season on Saturday but Winnipeg continues to struggle offensively as the number-1 line of Andrew Ladd, Bryan Little and Blake Wheeler has fallen into a prolonged slump.
Consider the following….
Blake Wheeler has no goals and two assists over the last six games. Andrew Ladd has no goals and two assists in his last six games and has not scored in his last 9 games. Bryan Little has one goal and two assists in his last six games but has no points in his last three games.
Should I go on?
Alright. Kyle Wellwood has zero points in his last six games. Nikolai Antropov has one goal and no assists in his last six games. Alexander Burmistrov has no goals and one assist in his 13 games.
It is safe to say that the Jets need to bust out offensively and quick because the next two games against the New York Rangers and New York Islanders will go a long way in determining if they will be playing meaningful games come May.
This is the second of three meetings between New York and Winnipeg. Winnipeg has defeated the Rangers twice this year, on February 26th in New York (4-3) and on March 14th in Winnipeg (3-1).
Ondrej Pavelec is expected to start in net for the Jets tonight. It will be Pavelec’s 33rd start of the season.
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: Eric Tangradi– Nikolai Antropov- Kyle Wellwood
4th: Patrice Cormier- Alexander Burmistrov - Chris Thorburn
Tobias Enstrom- Dustin Byfuglien
Zach Bogosian- Ron Hainsey
Derek Meech- Grant Clitsome
New York Rangers: Rick Nash (12 goals, 16 assists, 28 points), Derek Stepan (10 goals, 15 assists, 25 points), Marian Gaborik (9 goals, 10 assists, 19 points)
Winnipeg Jets: Andrew Ladd (14 goals, 18 assists, 32 points), Blake Wheeler (14 goals, 14 assists, 28 points) Evander Kane (13 goals, 13 assists, 26 points)
New York Rangers: Marc Staal (eye), Michael Sauer (concussion)
Winnipeg Jets: Zach Redmond (leg), Anthony Peluso (hand), Jim Slater (upper body), Mark Stuart (upper body), James Wright (undisclosed)
Who’s Next: Tomorrow night against the New York Islanders (6:00 p.m. CST). The third game of the Jets three-game road trip is Thursday, April 4th against the Montreal Canadiens (6:30 p.m. CST).
QUICKIES….Evander Kane leads the Jets with 119 hits, tied for 9th most in the National Hockey League with Ryan Callahan…..