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Game Day Preview: Jets @ Capitals

The Jets start a 3 game road trip in Washington, D.C. against a Capitals team desperate to get back to its winning ways. Will the Jets get another ‘W’ over their Southeast foes and keep the winning streak alive?

Caps @ Jets1

When: Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Time: 6:00 p.m. CST

Where: Verizon Center, Washington, DC

Records: Winnipeg (8-9-3), Washington (11-7-1)

Television/Radio: TSN-JETS,CSN-MA/TSN 1290 Radio

The Story: So, apparently a three-game homestand can turn your season around pretty quickly. At least it seems that way for the suddenly confident Winnipeg Jets as they enter tonight’s game against the Washington Capitals on a hot streak and easily playing their best hockey of the season.

It was less than two weeks ago, November 13th in fact, that the Jets were in second-last in the entire NHL with a 5-9-3 record and a 13 measly points. Fast forward to tonight and three wins in a row later and the Jets can move within two points of the second place in the Southeast Division Washington Capitals with a win. It was in fact, just six days ago that the Jets defeated the Capitals 4-1 in a game that was arguably the single most impressive performance of the year for a young hockey club still finding its identity.

Can the Jets keep their momentum going? It’s definitely a valid question as the Jets have been a hot-and-cold bunch this season- one game they’re losing to the lowly Columbus Blue Jackets then the next game they’re outscoring the powerhouse Philadelphia Flyers (twice). Because the Jets don’t have the luxury of a lot of natural goal scorers, they often live and die by their young, emerging forwards, namely Evander Kane, Alexander Burmistov and Bryan Little.  The good news for the Jets is that Kane (three goals and three assists in his last five games) and Little ( two goals and two assists in his last three games) are heating up at just the right time.

On the other side, it will be interesting to see how the Capitals come out and play the Jets at home. Make no mistake: Washington felt embarrassed by the way the played against the Jets last week and followed that up with a humiliating 7-1 loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs. Granted, the Capitals did win their last game against the Phoenix Coyotes (4-3) but they are still struggling (one win in their last five games) and will want to follow Monday’s win up with a strong game against the Jets.

***** It was announced earlier this afternoon by Tim Campbell of the Winnipeg Free Press that Jets defenseman Ron Hainsey will return to game action tonight.

The offensive leaders for the Washington Capitals are Nicklas Backstrom (six goals, 16 assists, 22 points), Alexander Ovechkin (seven goals, eight assists, 15 points) and Brooks Laich (four goals, 8 points, 12 points).

The offensive leaders for the Winnipeg Jets are Kyle Wellwood (six goals, nine assists, 15 points), Dustin Byfuglien (four goals, 10 assists, 14 points) and Evander Kane (eight goals, four assists, 14 points).

After tonight’s game against the Capitals, the Jets next game will be against the Carolina Hurricanes on Friday, November 25th (6:00 p.m. CST, TSN-Jets, TSN 1290) followed the next night by a game versus the defending Stanley Cup Champions, the Boston Bruins on Saturday, November 26th (6:00 p.m. CST, CBC, TSN 1290).

NOTES….  Ron Hainsey missed the last 16 games with a lower-body injury…..Capitals forward Alexander Semin will be in the lineup tonight for the Capitals. Semin was a healthy scratch on Monday versus the Phoenix Coyotes….. Capitals defenseman John Erskine (shoulder) and Joel Ward (slept in and missed morning meeting) have both been scratched….. Rookie defenseman Dmitry Orlov made his NHL debut on Monday. The 20-year-old was drafted by Washington in 2009 (2nd round, 55th overall)……Mike Green has missed 5 straight games with a groin injury and has missed 11 total games this season.  When Green is in the lineup, the Caps are 8-0. When Green is not in the linup, the Caps are 3-7-1….. The Jets have a 3-6-3 road record…. The Capitals have a 7-1-1 record at home……