When: Thursday, February 28, 2013
Time: 7:00 p.m. CST
Where: MTS Centre, Winnipeg, Manitoba
Records: Winnipeg Jets (9-9-1 – 9th in East), New Jersey Devils (10-5-4 – 6th in East)
Television/Radio: TSN-JETS, MSG PLUS 2/ TSN 1290
The Story: The Winnipeg Jets are finally back home after a season long five-game road trip tonight and with four out of five wins in their back pockets, life is pretty good.
The Jets host the New Jersey Devils tonight at MTS Centre (7:00 p.m. CST,TSN-JETS) just four days after defeating them 4-2 (Sunday). The Jets defeated the New York Rangers 4-3 on Tuesday night to move to back to .500 on the season and more importantly within striking distance of a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.
The Jets currently have 19 points, tied with both the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Carolina Hurricanes for the most in the Southeast Division but still just out of a playoff spot in 9th place because of the tiebreaker (The Jets, Lightning and Hurricanes have the same amount of wins, but the Jets have the least amount of goals scored). With a win tonight and a Tampa Bay loss, the Jets can actually vault into 3rd place in the Eastern Conference. Amazing, yes, but a perfect illustration of how tight the playoff race is approaching the midway point of this abbreviated season.
New Jersey enters tonight’s game on a bit of a down slide. The Devils have lost two games in a row and are currently dealing with a back injury to future Hall of Fame goaltender Martin Brodeur. Brodeur was placed on injured reserve on Tuesday and did not accompany the team to Winnipeg. Keith Kincaid was recalled from Albany of the American Hockey League and will backup Johan Hedberg tonight.
New Jersey currently sits in 6th in the East and is to no one’s surprise still led by 2-time Stanley Cup winner Patrik Elias, who has a team-high 22 points. Former Atlanta Thrasher Ilya Kovalchuk has only two goals in his last fives games but is still one of the most dangerous forwards off the rush in the NHL (17 points in 19 games). Winnipeg’s defensemen, namely the top pairing of Zach Bogosian and Ron Hainsey, will have their hands full containing the slick Russian sniper.
Today’s game is the second of three meetings between the Jets and Devils this year. The Jets and Devils will meet next in New Jersey on Sunday, March 10th (6:00 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-Alexander Burmistrov- Nikolai Antropov
3rd: James Wright– Olli Jokinen- Anthony Peluso
4th: Eric Tangradi- Jim Slater – Chris Thorburn
Ron Hainsey- Zach Bogosian
Dustin Byfuglien- Grant Clitsome
Paul Postma- Mark Stuart
Projected Devils line combinations (From Tom Gulitti of The Record):
1st: Adam Henrique – Andrei Loktionov – Ilya Kovalchuk
2nd: Patrick Elias – Travis Zajac – David Clarkson
3rd: Alexei Ponikarovsky – Stephen Gionta – Steve Bernier
4th: Stefan Matteau – Tim Sestito – Bobby Butler
Bryce Salvador – Marek Zidlicky
Andy Greene – Adam Larsson
Henrik Tallinder – Mark Fayne
New Jersey Devils: Patrik Elias (5 goals, 17 assists, 22 points), Ilya Kovalchuk (7 goals, 10 assists, 17 points), David Clarkson (10 goals, 7 assists, 17 points)
Winnipeg Jets: Evander Kane (9 goals, 9 assists, 18 points), Andrew Ladd (10 goals, 7 assists, 17 points), Blake Wheeler (6 goals, 10 assists, 16 points)
New Jersey Devils: Martin Brodeur (back), Ryan Carter (head), Dainius Zubrus (wrist), Mattias Tedenby (face)
Winnipeg Jets: Tobias Enstrom (shoulder), Zach Redmond (leg), Antti Miettinen (lower body)
Who’s Next: The Jets play the Washington Capitals at home on Saturday, March 2nd (2:00 p.m. CST).
QUICKIES….. Evander Kane is currently on a eight-game points streak. Kane has 6 goals and 4 assists during that span, including two game winning goals…..