When: Saturday, January 19, 2013
Time: 2:00 p.m. CST
Where: MTS Centre, Winnipeg, Manitoba
Records: Winnipeg Jets (0-0-0), Ottawa Senators (0-0-0)
Television/Radio: CBC, RDS/ TSN 1290
The Story: It has been over nine months since a regular season NHL hockey game was played in the city of Winnipeg so to say that today’s 2013 Regular Season opening game between the Winnipeg Jets and Ottawa Senators is highly anticipated would be a bit of an understatement.
The Winnipeg Jets will open this year’s abbreviated 48-game schedule with several new faces in the line-up, including free agent acquisitions Olli Jokinen and Alexei Ponikarovsky, two forwards who were acquired to bring much needed size and secondary scoring to the hockey club.
The Jets are coming off their inaugural season in Winnipeg which saw them place 11th in the Eastern Conference (37-35-10, 84 points). The Jets, who posted a record of 23-13-5 at home last year, are hoping the addition of Jokinen (23 goals, 38 assists for the Calgary Flames last season) will provide primary scoring and help to propel forward Evander Kane, the 21-year-old left winger for the Jets who signed a six year, $31.5 million contract in the offseason. Kane scored 30 goals and 27 assists last season and is again expected to be a key contributor for the Jets.
The Jets will face an Ottawa Senators team tonight that defeated them three out of four times last season. The Senators are led by 29-year-old centre Jason Spezza, one of the best playmakers in the entire National Hockey League, and 22-year-old defenseman Erik Karlsson, who won the Norris Trophy as the NHL’s best defenseman last year (19 goals, 59 assists). Ottawa has an abundance of highly skilled forwards like Daniel Alfredsson, Milan Michalek and Kyle Turris which means the Jets will have a handful in their own end.
Today’s game will be the first of three meetings between the Jets and Senators this year. After today, the two teams will next meet on Saturday, February 9th in Ottawa (1:00 p.m. CST). The Jets also play the Senators in Ottawa on Sunday, March 17th (4:00 p.m. CST).
Ondrej Pavelec is expected to start in goal for the Jets.
Follow @IllegalCurve on Twitter leading up to tonight’s game.
Projected Jets line combinations:
1st: Andrew Ladd-Bryan Little- Blake Wheeler
2nd: Evander Kane- Olli Jokinen- Kyle Wellwood
3rd: Alexei Ponikarovsky – Nik Antropov- Alexander Burmistrov
4th: Chris Thorburn – Jim Slater – Mark Scheifele
Dustin Byfuglien- Tobias Enstrom
Ron Hainsey- Mark Stuart
Paul Postma–Grant Clitsome
Last Year’s Offensive Leaders:
Ottawa Senators: Jason Spezza (34 goals, 50 assists, 84 points), Erik Karlsson (19 goals, 59 assists, 78 points), Milan Michalek (35 goals, 25 assists, 60 points)
Winnipeg Jets: Blake Wheeler (17 goals, 47 assists, 64 points), Evander Kane (30 goals, 27 assists, 57 points), Dustin Byfuglien (12 goals, 41 assists, 53 points)
Ottawa Senators: Jared Cowen (hip, out for season), Mike Lundin (finger)
Winnipeg Jets: Zach Bogosian (wrist), Antti Miettinen (upper body)
Who’s Next: The Jets will play the Boston Bruins on Monday, January 21st (Martin Luther King Junior Day) on the road (12:00 p.m. CST) followed by a game against the Washington Capitals on Tuesday, January 22nd on the road (6:00 p.m. ET). Tuesday’s game will be broadcasted nationally on TSN.
QUICKIES…..The Jets re-assigned three players to the St.John’s IceCaps of the American Hockey League on Friday: F Spencer Machacek, F Maxime Macenauer, D Derek Meech…. The Jets claimed F James Wright off waivers on Friday from the Florida Panthers. Wright,22, was drafted by the Tampa Bay Lightning in 2008 (4th round, 117th overall.). Wright has played in 40 games for the San Antonio Rampage of the the AHL this season…..