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Game Day Preview: Panthers @ Jets

The Winnipeg Jets are back at home this week and tonight they will host the Florida Panthers (7:00 p.m. CST, TSN-JETS, TSN 1290) with the simple goal of getting back in the win column.

WPG FLA Jan 21

When: Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Time: 7:00 p.m. CST

Where: MTS Centre, Winnipeg, Manitoba

Records: Winnipeg Jets (3-4-1), Florida Panthers (3-5-0)

Television/Radio:  TSN-JETS, FS-F/ TSN 1290

The Story: Oh how so much can change in just one week.

The Winnipeg Jets are back at home this week and tonight they will host the Florida Panthers (7:00 p.m. CST, TSN-JETS, TSN 1290) with the simple goal of getting back in the win column.

The Jets dropped three road games last week to the Montreal Canadiens (4-3), the Panthers (6-3) and the Tampa Bay Lightning (8-3) and now find themselves in a desperate situation looking to keep pace in the Eastern Conference playoff race just over two weeks into the season.

Although it is hard to identify just one or two reasons for the Jets struggles during last week’s road trip, if you had to single out anything, it would be special teams and penalties taken. The Jets were shorthanded 16 times during the three road games against Montreal, Florida and Tampa Bay and that resulted in 8 power play goals against. Winnipeg now has the worst penalty killing percentage in the entire National Hockey League at 59.3%.

Winnipeg’s self-discipline and penalty killing must get better. Well, in reality, it can’t get much worse.

Winnipeg’s opponent, the Florida Panthers, are struggling this season but they still hold the title of defending Southeast Division champions and still boast offensive threats Kris Versteeg, Tomas Fleischmann, Brian Campbell and free agent acquisition Alexei Kovalev. Florida defeated the Buffalo Sabres 4-3 on Sunday night, overcoming a two goal deficit in the 2nd period to win their second game in a row.

On the injury front, Jets defenceman Dustin Byfuglien will miss his third straight game with a lower body injury (day-to-day) while Florida defenceman Erik Gubrandson may make his season debut after missing the first eight games of the season with a shoulder injury. Florida defenceman and Captain Ed Jovanovski is listed as day-to-day with a knee injury.

Today’s game is the second of four meetings between the Jets and Panthers this year. The two teams will meet next on Friday, March 8th in Florida (6:30 p.m. CST). The fourth and final meeting of the season is in Winnipeg on Thursday, April 11th (7:00 p.m. CST).

Ondrej Pavelec is expected to start in goal for the Jets tonight.

Follow @IllegalCurve on Twitter leading up to tonight’s game.

Projected Jets line combinations (subject to change before game time):


Ondrej Pavelec


1st: Evander Kane- Olli Jokinen- Blake Wheeler

2nd:  Andrew Ladd- Alexander Burmistrov- Bryan Little

3rd:  Alexei Ponikarovsky – Nikolai Antropov- Kyle Wellwood

4th:  James Wright- Jim Slater – Chris Thorburn


Tobias Enstrom- Ron Hainsey

Mark Stuart- Paul Postma

Grant Clitsome- Zach Redmond

Offensive Leaders:

Florida Panthers: Tomas Fleischmann (2 goals, 5 assists, 7 points), Brian Campbell (4 goals, 2 assists, 6 points), Tomas Kopecky (2 goals, 4 assists, 6 points)

Winnipeg JetsTobias Enstrom (2 goals, 9 assists, 11 points), Andrew Ladd (3 goals, 5 assists, 8 points), Evander Kane (3 goals, 5 assists, 8 points), Blake Wheeler (3 goals, 5 assists, 8 points)

Injury Report:

Florida Panthers: Scottie Upshall (ankle), Ed Jovanovski (knee), Erik Gudbranson (shoulder)

Winnipeg JetsZach Bogosian (wrist), Antti Miettinen (upper body), Dustin Byfuglien (lower body)

Who’s Next:  The Jets host the Toronto Maple Leafs on Thursday, February 7th (7:00 p.m.)

QUICKIES…..Tobias Enstrom‘s 11 points leads the NHL amongst defencemen…..