Game Day Preview: Sabres @ Jets
When: Tuesday, April 9, 2013
Time: 7:00 p.m. CST
Where: MTS Centre, Winnipeg, Manitoba
Records: Winnipeg Jets (19-19-2 – 10th in East), Buffalo Sabres (16-17-6- 12th in East)
Television/Radio: MSG-B, TSN-JETS/TSN 1290
The Story: It’s back to work for the Winnipeg Jets tonight after a well deserved two-day break as they host the Buffalo Sabres, looking to keep pace in the race for a spot in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
The Jets have just eight games remaining in their 2013 regular season and they enter tonight’s game two points out of a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. The Jets have 40 points, two points behind the Southeast-division leading Washington Capitals, and two points behind both the 8th place New York Islanders and 7th place New York Rangers.
Winnipeg essentially saved their season on Saturday afternoon, defeating the Philadelphia Flyers 4-1 and snapping a five game losing streak that saw them fall from 3rd place to 10th place in the East in the blink of an eye. After trailing the Flyers 1-0 after one period on Saturday, the Jets exploded for four unanswered goals in the second period to snap out of a team goal scoring funk which lasted nearly two weeks.
It has been clear all season that Evander Kane, Andrew Ladd, Blake Wheeler and Bryan Little are the catalysts for the Jets offense and it could not have been more evident on Saturday. Kane was the first star with a goal and an assist and continues to be the straw that stirs this team’s offensive drink. Little also scored against Philadelphia (his 6th of the season), his first goal in seven games. Ladd (1 assist) and Wheeler (2 assists) also contributed and it was an explosion that didn’t go unnoticed by Head Coach Claude Noel or the 15,004 fans in attendance at the MTS Centre.
Meanwhile, the Sabres enter tonight’s game on a three-game winning streak which has catapulted them back into the playoff picture. In fact, Buffalo is 6-2-2 in their last 10 games and trail the Jets by just two points which means they can move further up the standings with a win (The Sabres also have a game in hand on the Jets).
Don’t expect too many line-up changes for the Winnipeg Jets tonight. James Wright returned to the line-up on Saturday after missing eight games with a lower-body injury and should be in the line-up again tonight.
There may be one huge addition to the Sabres line-up tonight and that would be none other than leading scorer Thomas Vanek. Vanek has missed the last six games with an upper body injury and will be a game-time decision tonight. His presence in the line-up would be a major boost for the Sabres, especially on the Power Play, which is ranked dead last in the NHL. Vanek leads the Sabres with 33 points in 29 games this season, including seven power play goals.
This is the second of three meetings between the Sabres and Jets this season with Winnipeg holding the season series lead with one win. The Jets defeated the Sabres 2-1 back on February 19th in Winnipeg. The third and final meeting of the season between the Jets and Sabres is on Monday, April 22nd in Buffalo (6:00 p.m. CST, TSN-JETS).
Ondrej Pavelec is expected to start in net for the Jets tonight.
Ryan Miller is expected to start in net for the Sabres 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-Olli Jokinen- Kyle Wellwood
3rd: Eric Tangradi– Alexander Burmistrov- Mike Santorelli
4th: James Wright- Aaron Gagnon - Chris Thorburn
Tobias Enstrom- Dustin Byfuglien
Zach Bogosian- Ron Hainsey
Grant Clitsome- Mark Stuart
Buffalo Sabres: Thomas Vanek (16 goals, 17 assists, 33 points), Cody Hodgson (13 goals, 17 assists, 30 points), Tyler Ennis (9 goals, 17 assists, 26 points)
Winnipeg Jets: Andrew Ladd (14 goals, 20 assists, 34 points), Blake Wheeler (14 goals, 16 assists, 30 points) Evander Kane (14 goals, 14 assists, 28 points)
Buffalo Sabres: Brayden McNabb (knee), Ville Leino (upper body), Thomas Vanek (upper body), Alexander Sulzer (lower body)
Winnipeg Jets: Zach Redmond (leg), Anthony Peluso (hand), Jim Slater (upper body), Nikolai Antropov (lower body)
Who’s Next: The Jets host the Florida Panthers on Thursday, April, 11th at 7:00 p.m. CST.
QUICKIES….. Nikolai Antropov has the best Plus/Minus on the Jets (Plus-7)…..Olli Jokinen needs one more goal for 300 on his career…..Jokinen needs four points for 700 on his career…..Bryan Little needs two more goals for 100 on his career…..Andrew Ladd needs eight more points for 300 on his career (134-158-292)……