Archive for January 27th, 2013

Jets set for date with Islanders

- January 27th, 2013

The significant news at MTS Centre on Sunday morning was that backup Al Montoya would be making his first start for the Winnipeg Jets.

The fact that start comes against his former team, the New York Islanders, could make for an interesting evening at MTS Centre as the Jets close out a two-game homestand.

There were plenty of complimentary things being said by both sides about Montoya.

“I don’t have too many (secrets), but the one thing I can tell you about Al is that he was a good teammate, he’s a competitive kid and he battles,” said Islanders head coach Jack Capuano. “I expect him to do that here tonight.”

After some serious thought and occasionally flip-flopping, I’ve come to the conclusion that starting your backup goalie in a game like this makes an awful lot of sense, especially considering one of the major topics of conversation the past two days was about the Jets needing to buck a trend against possible letdowns.

What’s the best way to prevent that possibility?

How about throw in your backup.

Since guys know that it’s his first start of the season, might they pay a little closer attention to detail rather than maybe expecting Ondrej Pavelec to bail them out if they happen to make a mistake.

Just a theory.

Besides, the Jets have said all along they brought in Montoya as a free agent to get him some work.

Imy early projection of double digit starts has any chance to happen, getting in for Game 5 is as good a time as any.

Montoya is eager to show his new team he can be counted on and facing his former team is as good a time as any to try and show that.

The Jets won’t make any other lineup changes, sticking with the group that put together the impressive 4-2 comeback victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins on Friday.

That means the scratches will be Mark Scheifele, Anthony Peluso and Zach Redmond are out for the Jets, who dropped three of four against the Islanders last season.

“(The Islanders) have got some speed up front, they can play a good transition game,” said Noel. “We’re aware of what they are. It will be interesting to see how we prepare ourselves to get ready for this game.

“For me, we got into a little bit more of a race against them than I would have liked too. I would have liked to tighten things up a lot more than we did. We were way too loose and I don’t think we showed them and gave them enough respect.”

Noel and the players made it sound like that wouldn’t be the case this year.

“We all know the Islanders have some guys that can hurt us and we kind of struggled against them last year,” said Jets forward Bryan Little. “We’re not taking them lightly, by any means. We know it’s going to be a tough game and we have to play smart.”

The Islanders will start Evgeni Nabokov in goal.

This will be a special game for St. Malo product Travis Hamonic, who attracted quite a crowd at his locker after the morning skate.

Hamonic showed off his sense of humour, but was excited for his second chance to play at MTS Centre (he missed the Islanders’ second game last season with an injury).

“Winnipeg is a great hockey market. I grew up in this province and obviously it’s nice to have a lot of family and friends be able to come out and get a chance to experience getting to see me play,” said Hamonic, who got his hands on 30 tickets of his own and expects roughly 75 friends and family members in attendance. “There was a lot of emotions running through my head in that first game (in December of 2011). I thought I did a really good job of settling myself in nicely. I played upwards of 30 minutes that night and probably had one of my better games as a professional. Hopefully, I can do that again tonight and help the team win.

“It’s cool for me to have a chance to play in my home province, but you can’t forget that there’s a game and a task at hand and I’m going to do everything I can to get on that plane back (to New York) and hopefully have a big smile on my face.”

Hamonic is renting out his Winnipeg condo to Montoya and joked that the Jets’ goalie was a little late on rent, so he might let him hear about it during the warm-up.

“I’m a landlord now,” said Hamonic. “(Montoya) is a good goalie, but an even better friend. This is his first start and it’s a big task for him. He’s a competitor and he’s a guy that likes to work hard. It will be fun. Maybe I’ll try to put one off his head early on. I think he’s actually a couple days on his rent right now, so I might have to give him the gears a little bit in the warm-up.”

Speaking of Islanders’ D-men, Thomas Hickey, who was claimed off waivers from the Los Angeles Kings, will make his NHL debut on Sunday.

Here’s how we expect both teams to start Sunday’s game:

Jets

Evander Kane-Olli Jokinen-Blake Wheeler

Andrew Ladd-Nik Antropov-Bryan Little

Alexei Ponikarovsky-Alex Burmistrov-Kyle Wellwood

James Wright-Jim Slater-Chris Thorbrun

Toby Enstrom-Dustin Byfuglien

Mark Stuart-Ron Hainsey

Grant Clitsome-Paul Postma

Al Montoya (Ondrej Pavelec)

Islanders

Matt Moulson-John Tavares-Kyle Okposo

Michael Grabner-Frans Nielsen-Brad Boyes

David Ullstrom-Keith Aucoin-Colin McDonald

Eric Boulton-Marty Reasoner-Matt Martin

Andrew MacDonald-Travis Hamonic

Mark Streit-Brian Strait

Thomas Hickey-Matt Carkner

Evgeni Nabokov (Rick DiPietro)