When: Tuesday, February 7, 2012
Time: 7:30 p.m. CST
Where: MTS Centre, Winnipeg, Manitoba
Records: Winnipeg (24-24-6), Toronto Maple Leafs (28-19-6)
Television/Radio: SNET-O,TSN-JETS/ TSN 1290 Radio
The Story: If it feels like it has been a long time since the Winnipeg Jets last played at home, well it has been. In fact, It’s been 17 days since the Jets last played a home game (January 21st against the Florida Panthers) so when the Jets meet the red-hot Toronto Maple Leafs tonight at the MTS Centre we should expect a loud welcoming from the 15,000+ fans in the MTS Centre and hundreds of thousands more who will be watching at home.
Winnipeg enters tonight’s game in 10th place in the Eastern Conference and still in the hunt for a berth in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. With 28 games to go in the season, the Jets are seven points behind the Ottawa Senators for the last playoff spot and eight points behind the Maple Leafs, who are in 7th place with one game in hand.
The Jets lost the last two games of their recent post-All-Star Break/four-game road trip, earning four of a possible eight points on the trip to stay in the Eastern Conference playoff race for now. The Leafs, on the other hand, have won three games in a row and are unbeaten in their last six games, comfortably in the middle of the playoff pack.
There is reason for optimism in Jets land however.
Even though the Jets have only won four of their last 10 games, they are only five points behind the Florida Panthers for the Southeast Division lead and 3rd place in the East. The caveat here is obviously that Florida has only played 51 games, three less than the Jets, who have played the second most games in the East, second only to the Ottawa Senators, who have played 55 games. In addition, 16 of the Jets remaining 28 games are at home, where they have a stellar record of 15-8-2.
Perhaps the best news for the Jets is that forward Evander Kane will return to the line-up tonight versus the Maple Leafs. Kane has missed the last seven games with a concussion.
Ondrej Pavelec will start in net for the Jets.
Tonight’s meeting will be the fourth and final one of the season between the Leafs and Jets. The Leafs have won two of the three meetings, including the last one back on January 5th, a 4-0 win at Air Canada Centre.
Projected line combinations:
1st: Andrew Ladd-Bryan Little- Blake Wheeler
2nd: Evander Kane- Nikolai Antropov- Kyle Wellwood
3rd: Tanner Glass- Jim Slater- Chris Thorburn
4th: Antti Miettinen-Aaron Gagnon-Alexander Burmistrov
Dustin Byfuglien- Tobias Enstrom
Zach Bogosian-Mark Stuart
Johnny Oduya-Ron Hainsey
Toronto Maple Leafs: Phil Kessel (29 goals, 28 assists, 57 points), Joffrey Lupul (21 goals, 34 assists, 55 points), Mikhail Grabovski (18 goals, 21 assists, 39 points)
Winnipeg Jets: Blake Wheeler (10 goals, 25 assists, 35 points), Evander Kane (18 goals, 13 assists, 31 points), Kyle Wellwood (10 goals, 21 assists, 31 points)
Toronto Maple Leafs: David Steckel (foot), Darryl Boyce (back)
Winnipeg Jets: Stapleton (lower body)
Who’s Next: The Jets next game is on Thursday night on the road against the Washington Capitals (6:00 p.m. CST). The Jets next game after that is on Saturday, February 11th, against the Pittsburgh Penguins (1:00 p.m. CST).
QUICKIES…… The Jets re-assigned forward Spencer Machacek to the St.John’s IceCaps on Tuesday…..The Jets were 0-for-13 on the power play on the six-game road trip….The Jets have been shutout seven times this season…..Chris Thorburn has four fighting majors in his last five games…..Tanner Glass leads the Jets with 156 hits, which is 11th most in the National Hockey League…..Pick up your official Illegal Curve New Era 5950 Fitted Hat, available online or at City Haul on 823 Corydon Avenue…..