When: Thursday, March 14, 2013
Time: 7:00 p.m. CST
Where: MTS Centre, Winnipeg, Manitoba
Records: Winnipeg Jets (13-11-2 – 9th in East), New York Rangers (13-10-2 – 8th in East)
Television/Radio: MSG PLUS, TSN-JETS/ TSN 1290
The Story: The Winnipeg Jets host the New York Rangers tonight at MTS Centre with nothing but a temporary Eastern Conference playoff spot on the line.
It may be hard to believe but there are only six weeks left in the abbreviated 2013 regular season and the surging Jets are right in the thick of one of the tighest playoff races in recent memory. Winnipeg is tied with New York (28 points each) but the Rangers have the tiebreaker with one extra game in hand.
The Jets played arguably their best game of the season Tuesday night against the Toronto Maple Leafs, a resounding 5-2 win that improved Winnipeg’s record on home ice to 5-6-0. Perhaps the most surprising aspect of Tuesday night’s game was the performance of Nikolai Antropov, who earned the game’s first star with a 3-point performance (2 goals, 1 assist). Entering the game, Antropov had one goal in 25 games.
There was only negative to come from Tuesday’s game and it was an injury suffered by centre Jim Slater, who injured his hand blocking a shot in the third period. Slater will not play tonight and is listed as out on a week-to-week basis. The Jets recalled Patrice Cormier from the St. John’s IceCaps of the American Hockey League and he may play tonight versus the Rangers.
If Cormier does not play tonight, it will be because Head Coach Claude Noel decides to put 21-year-old forward Alexander Burmistrov back in the line-up. Burmistrov did not play on Tuesday night in favour of veteran tough guy Chris Thorburn. Burmistrov has struggled at times to produce offensively this year and has only seven points in 25 games played (3 goals, 4 assists).
The Rangers come into Winnipeg on the heels of a disappointing 3-1 loss to the Buffalo Sabres on Tuesday night. After the game, Head Coach John Tortorella gave the following quote:
“I don’t think the Sabres are the hungrier team; I thought we stunk. I’m not gonna give Buffalo any credit. Well, I will give their third line credit. They outplayed our top players, and that can’t happen. I couldn’t be more disgusted and disappointed with the way our top guys played, the way we handled ourselves through it.”
It should be another fun night at the MTS Centre tonight.
This is the second of three meetings between the Rangers and Jets this year. The Jets defeated the Rangers 4-3 two and a half weeks ago (February 26th) in New York. The Jets and Leafs play next on Monday, April 1st (6:00 p.m. CST) in New York.
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-Nikolai Antropov- Kyle Wellwood
3rd: James Wright– Olli Jokinen- Antti Miettinen
4th: Eric Tangradi- Patrice Cormier – Chris Thorburn
Ron Hainsey- Zach Bogosian
Dustin Byfuglien- Grant Clitsome
Derek Meech- Mark Stuart
New York Rangers: Rick Nash (9 goals, 14 assists, 23 points), Marian Gaborik (8 goals, 9 assists, 17 points), Derek Stepan (7 goals, 10 assists, 17 points)
Winnipeg Jets: Andrew Ladd (13 goals, 12 assists, 25 points), Blake Wheeler (10 goals, 11 assists, 21 points) Evander Kane (11 goals, 9 assists, 20 points).
New York Rangers: Marc Staal (eye), Arron Asham (back), Michael Sauer (concussion)
Winnipeg Jets: Tobias Enstrom (shoulder, week to week), Zach Redmond (leg), Anthony Peluso (hand), Jim Slater (upper body)
Who’s Next: After tonight’s game, the Jets will hit the road for a two-game set, Saturday, March 16th against the Toronto Maple Leafs (6:00 p.m. CST) and Sunday, March 17th against the Ottawa Senators (4:00 p.m. CST).
QUICKIES…..Patrice Cormier has 7 goals and 4 assists in 32 games with the IceCaps this year….. Ron Hainsey leads the Jets with 65 blocked shots, which is 9th most in the NHL…..On Thursday morning, Winnipeg recalled Eddie Pasquale from the St. John’s IceCaps for ‘precautionary reasons’……..