When: Tuesday, March 26, 2013
Time: 6:00 p.m. CST
Where: PNC Arena, Raleigh, North Carolina
Records: Winnipeg Jets (17-14-2 – 3rd in East), Carolina Hurricanes (15-15-2 – 9th in East)
Television/Radio: FS-Carolinas, TSN-JETS/TSN 1290
The Story: The Winnipeg Jets face the Carolina Hurricanes tonight in a road game that could have significant playoff ramifications.
Winnipeg currently sits in 3rd place in the Eastern Conference via their top seeding in the Southeast Division but Carolina trails them by only four points for the division lead with three games in hand which means tonight’s game may in reality be a six point game (two points for the win, two points taken away from Carolina, two points that can’t be made up with extra game in hand)
The Jets have just 15 games left in the abbreviated 2013 season and have a fantastic opportunity to make the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the first time since the franchise moved from Atlanta just under two years ago. The Jets play their next two games on the road (tonight in Carolina, Thursday in Pittsburgh) but play eight of their final 13 games at home including six consecutive home games from April 6th to April 20th.
Carolina enters tonight’s game looking to get back on track after losing their last two games. Carolina has been idle since last Thursday’s 4-1 loss to the New Jersey Devils and are winless in their last five games. Carolina has struggled since Number-1 netminder Cam Ward suffered a knee injury. Carolina has gone 3-5-1 without Ward and now they don’t have the services of Dan Ellis either, as he suffered a leg laceration during Thursday’s game. As per Chip Alexander of the Raleigh News & Observer, Carolina recalled goaltender John Muse from the Charlotte Checkers of the American Hockey League to backup Justin Peters tonight.
There has been some good news for the Hurricanes over the last week however as Tuomo Ruutu made his season debut on Thursday after missing the first 29 games of the season recovering from hip surgery. Ruutu had 18 goals and 16 assists in 72 games for the Hurricanes last year. Forward Chad LaRose was activated off injured reserve Tuesday and may play tonight versus the Jets. LaRose missed the last 10 games with post-concussion symptoms.
The Jets and Hurricanes will face each other tonight in Carolina and then will meet again in a rematch on Saturday afternoon back in Winnipeg at the MTS Centre (2:00 p.m. CST, CBC). This is the second of four meetings between the two teams this year with the Jets leading the season series with one win (4-3 win on February 21st). The fourth and final meeting of the season between the two teams takes place on Thursday April 18th in Winnipeg (7:00 p.m. CST).
There will be one line-up change for the Jets tonight. Ron Hainsey checks back into the line-up after missing Sunday’s game with an upper body injury. Paul Postma will be a healthy scratch.
Ondrej Pavelec is expected to get the start in goal for the Winnipeg Jets.
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: Patrice Cormier– Nikolai Antropov- Kyle Wellwood
4th: Eric Tangradi- Alexander Burmistrov – Chris Thorburn
Tobias Enstrom- Dustin Byfuglien
Zach Bogosian- Ron Hainsey
Derek Meech- Grant Clitsome
Carolina Hurricanes: Eric Staal (14 goals, 21 assists, 35 points), Alexander Semin (8 goals, 22 assists, 30 points), Jiri Tlusty (13 goals, 9 assists, 22 points)
Winnipeg Jets: Andrew Ladd (14 goals, 18 assists, 32 points), Blake Wheeler (14 goals, 14 assists, 28 points) Bryan Little (5 goals, 16 assists, 21 points)
Carolina Hurricanes: Dan Ellis (leg), Justin Faulk (knee), Bobby Sanguinetti (upper body), Cam Ward (knee)
Winnipeg Jets: Zach Redmond (leg), Anthony Peluso (hand), Jim Slater (upper body), Mark Stuart (upper body), James Wright (undisclosed)
Who’s Next: The Jets play the Pittsburgh Penguins on Thursday, March 28th (6:00 p.m. CST).
QUICKIES….On Monday Carolina announced that they signed Alexander Semin to a 5-year, $35 million contract extension……