Game Day Preview: Panthers @ Jets
When: Thursday, April 11, 2013
Time: 7:00 p.m. CST
Where: MTS Centre, Winnipeg, Manitoba
Records: Winnipeg Jets (20-19-2 – 9th in East), Florida Panthers (13-20-6- 15th in East)
Television/Radio: FS-F, TSN-JETS/TSN 1290
The Story: The Winnipeg Jets will be seeking their third straight home win when they host the Florida Panthers tonight and more importantly the Jets will be seeking a spot above the highly coveted playoff line.
With just seven games to go, the Jets remain two points out of a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. The Jets have 42 points, two points behind the Southeast-division leading Washington Capitals, and two points behind both the 7th place New York Islanders and 8th place New York Rangers. All three teams have one game in hand on Winnipeg.
Despite the fact that the Jets playoff fate rests largely in other teams hands, they do have a favourable schedule coming up. After tonight’s matchup, the Jets will have a four-day break until next Tuesday when they host the Tampa Bay Lightning at home which is followed by two more home games against the Carolina Hurricanes and New York Islanders, teams that they have already defeated this year.
Because Winnipeg is in such a precarious position which requires them to win five of their last seven games, tonight’s matchup against the Panthers is critical and will require a focused, 60 minute effort- something the Jets have struggled with all season. Winnipeg will not be able to take the last-place Panthers lightly tonight and if they do, they will quickly find themselves behind the eight ball. Just ask the Ottawa Senators, who the Panthers defeated 2-1 on Monday.
There will be a significant line-up change for the Jets tonight. Tobias Enstrom left Tuesday’s game against the Buffalo Sabres after being hit hard by Steve Ott and did not return and will not play for the Jets tonight. Enstrom is listed officially with a mid-body injury (it’s believed to be Enstrom’s back). Paul Postma will check into the line-up for the Jets tonight in place of Enstrom.
This is the fifth and final meeting of the season between the Panthers and Jets with the season series tied at two wins apiece. The Panthers defeated the Jets 6-3 on January 31st in Florida which was followed by a 3-2 overtime victory for the Jets in Winnipeg on February 5th. The Panthers defeated the Jets 4-1 in Florida on March 5th, but the Jets returned to Florida to defeat the Panthers 3-2 in overtime three days later on March 8th.
Ondrej Pavelec is expected to start in net for the Jets tonight.
Jacob Markstrom will start in net for the Panthers 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
Paul Postma– Dustin Byfuglien
Zach Bogosian- Ron Hainsey
Grant Clitsome- Mark Stuart
Florida Panthers: Jonathan Huberdeau (13 goals, 14 assists, 27 points), Tomas Kopecky (15 goals, 11 assists, 26 points), Tomas Fleischmann (8 goals, 18 assists, 26 points)
Winnipeg Jets: Andrew Ladd (15 goals, 21 assists, 36 points), Blake Wheeler (15 goals, 16 assists, 31 points) Evander Kane (14 goals, 15 assists, 29 points)
Florida Panthers: Mike Weaver (knee), Ed Jovanovski (hip), Kris Versteeg (knee), Stephen Weiss (wrist), Jose Theodore (groin)
Winnipeg Jets: Zach Redmond (leg), Anthony Peluso (hand), Jim Slater (upper body), Nikolai Antropov (lower body), Tobias Enstrom (mid-body)
Who’s Next: The Jets host the Tampa Bay Lightning on Tuesday, April, 16th at 7:00 p.m. CST.
QUICKIES….. The Jets announced on Wednesday that they signed goaltender Juho Olikinuora to a contract. The 22-year-old native of Helsinki, Finland played for the University of Denver this past season posting a 13-6-5 record, 2.35 GAA and .927 Save Percentage……