Archive for February 21st, 2013

Jets defeat Hurricanes 4-3

- February 21st, 2013

RALEIGH, N.C. — This wasn’t a typical Win-one-for-the-gipper type of game for the Winnipeg Jets.

But after enduring what must have been an incredibly taxing day — watching teammate Zach Redmond get taken off the ice on a stretcher and into an ambulance, leaving a generous pool of blood behind — the Jets found a way to gut out a 4-3 victory over the Carolina Hurricanes in a game that was important on a lot of levels for them.

Before we get too deep into the game, Redmond had successful surgery (lasting nearly three hours) to repair a laceration to his right femoral artery and vein, which is located above the knee on the mid-thigh on the inside part of his leg.

It’s clear that after doing some research, were it not for the efforts of Jets players and medical staff, things could have been a lot worse for Redmond, who will remain hospitalized in North Carolina for the time being as several family members make their way here to join him as the Jets move on to their next stop on this five-game road trip that is off to a somewhat surprising 2-0 start.

“A wild day, yeah. It’s been tough emotionally, tmost of the plaeyrs didn’t sleep much and I didn’t get much sleep myself,” said Jets head coach Claude Noel. “Right now your thoughts are with the player. I’m waiting to talk to him and see how he’s doing. People that were with him (Jets strength and conditioning coach Lee Stubbs), were saying all Redmond wanted to talk about was ‘how are we doing in the game?’ It pretty much shows you where his heart is. He’s still connected to the team and always will be.”

The Jets said Redmond would be out of the lineup indefinitely and with Toby Enstrom still on the shelf, you’d have to expect the Jets to bring in another blue-liner, either from the St. John’s IceCaps, a free agent or via trade.

Winnipegger Derek Meech would be a logical choice but word from The Rock is that the veteran has missed the past three games with concussion-like symptoms, so he might not be available.

The Jets other contracted players in the minors are all young guys who are not likely ready for their first taste of the NHL. We’ll do our best to monitor the situation on Friday when we catch up with the team in Philadelphia.

Back to the Jets 4-3 win over the Hurricanes, which allowed them to improve to 7-8-1 on the season and move within two spots of top spot in the Southeast Division standings (while remaining 11th in the Eastern Conference).

It was another big game for the Jets’ top line of Blake Wheeler (two goals), Bryan Little (one assist) and Andrew Ladd (one goal, two assists) as they produced three of the four goals and combined for six points.

Wheeler got the Jets off to a strong start by sneaking a quick shot off the stick of Hurricanes D-man Jay Harrison and past Cam Ward just 1:53 into the contest.

Wheeler then delivered the game-winner, just 16 seconds after the Hurricanes had tied the game 3-3 on Jiri Tlusty’s second goal of the game.

“Right through the five-hole,” said Wheeler, who snapped a six-game drought and now has six goals on the season. “I just looked up and (Ward) was starting to go down. It (the five-hole) was wide open. It’s nice to pick your spot once in a while and have it go through.”

Wheeler was sprung loose on the breakaway by Ladd, who flipped his pass high into the air and saw Hurricanes D-man Joe Corvo get a piece of it before falling down, allowing Wheeler to walk in alone.

Just the way Ladd drew it up, right?

“I probably meant to get a little more on it,” said Ladd, who was playing his 500th game against the team that drafted him and captured his first Stanley Cup with. “I was just going to chip it in and I saw he was playing pretty close to Wheeler and he’s tough to keep a close gap on. If he gets a step on you, he’s gone. I just wanted to get it in an area and let him skate into it.”

Evander Kane had the other goal for the Jets, his fifth of the season on a bit of a circus shot that changed direction off Corvo, 2:10 into the third period. Kane now has a point in five consecutive games and is tied for second on the club with 13 points in 16 games.

The Jets’ offensive outburst was their best since defeating the New York Islanders 5-4 back on Jan. 27.

Winnipeg was unable to score during a 5-on-3 that lasted 72 seconds, but they managed to kill one off during the second period as well, so the special-teams battle was a saw-off.

Given the fact the Jets are still 30th in the NHL on the penalty kill, preventing the opposition from scoring during a two-man advantage was a major victory in itself.

“The key was that we killed the 5-on-3 in the second period, it was huge,” said Jets goalie Ondrej Pavelec. “We did a great job and the guys blocked a lot of shots.”

Mark Stuart blocked two shots during that penalty kill, while Jim Slater and Chris Thoburn also had important blocks during the second period.

Dustin Byfuglien was used in front of the net during the power play once again and caused some havoc, but the closest the Jets came to scoring was when Zach Bogosian rattled a slapper off the post during the 5-on-3.

As for the Hurricanes, one of the highlight-reel plays of the game saw Alexander Semin make a ridiculous behind-the-back and between his own legs pass that went through the legs of Bogosian — who had gone down on one knee to block the pass — and onto the tape of Tlusty, who knotted the game 1-1 with 1:21 left in the first period.

That’s going to do it for now, talk to you again on Saturday morning from Pennsylvania. A 4:40 a.m. ET wake-up call awaits.

Jets and Hurricanes set to meet for first time

- February 21st, 2013

RALEIGH, N.C. — Have to say it was one of the most bizarre morning skates I’ve seen at any point in my close to 13 years covering hockey for the Winnipeg Sun

The morning was rolling right along, players were in positive spirits and all eyes were on a Southeast Division battle, when things took a sharp turn.

Many players were already off the ice and reporters were conducting interviews inside the Jets’ dressing room, when assistant coach Pascal Vincent came running in. You could tell by the tone of his voice that something serious had happened on the ice.

There was plenty of commotion and players and media members alike made their way back out to try to get a look at what was happening.

Although I didn’t witness the incident first-hand, what I saw was a group of concerned players, coaches and medical personnel crowded around Jets D-man Zach Redmond.

The pool of blood left on the ice was enough to make the stomach of most witnesses queasy.

What we learned afterward from Jets head coach Claude Noel was that Redmond fell during a 1-on-1 drill, ended up on the ice and a teammate accidentally cut him in the middle of his thigh, causing a deep cut.

Redmond was taken to hospital by ambulance and underwent nearly three hours of surgery to repair the laceration to his right femoral artery and vein. The Jets statement said Redmond was resting comfortably but would be out indefinitely.

As for the match-up, tonight is the first meeting between the two Southeast Division rivals and Jets D-man Zach Bogosian said it’s important to try and set the tone and follow up a strong effort in their 2-1 win over the Sabres on Tuesday night.

“We want to be known as a tough team to play against, whether we’re playing at home or on the road. We want to make sure we’re coming out, working hard and setting that tone,” said Bogosian. “We just have to keep our energy up. Especially on the PK, we were hunting down pucks together as four-man unit. Just go out there and get the job done.”

The Hurricanes (8-5-1) currently lead the Southeast with 17 points and the Jets (6-8-1) are only four points behind. Obviously, finding a way to win would be a huge boost for them.

“It’s never really easy, every road win has been difficult for us,” said Noel. “They’re at the top of our division so this is a big four-point game for us.”

Jets captain Andrew Ladd will play his 500th NHL game tonight against the team that drafted him and the squad he won his first of two Stanley Cups with. Ladd was also chosen fourth overall in 2004 at PNC Arena.

We looked at Ladd’s story in Thursday’s Sun. If you didn’t see it, here’s the link: http://www.winnipegsun.com/2013/02/20/winnipeg-jets-captain-andrew-ladd-set-to-play-500th-nhl-game-in-city-where-career-started

It will be Ondrej Pavelec making his 13th start for the Jets, while Cam Ward is between the pipes for the Hurricanes.

Both men have not been up to their own standards, but Pavelec is coming off a strong performance against the Sabres.

Also had a nice chat with Eric and Jordan Staal following the Hurricanes’ morning skate and I’ll be writing a piece on their thoughts on becoming teammates in Friday’s paper and online at www.winnipegsun.com.

Here’s what Bogosian said when I asked him about facing the Staal’s.

“I’ve never played against them together, but they’re both big guys that are good at protecting the puck,” said Bogosian. “You have to play the body on them. They have good hands, so you have to make sure that you’re not watching the puck (against) them.”

The Hurricanes are battling injuries to key players like Jeff Skinner (concussion), D-men Joni Pitkanen and Tim Gleason, among others, so Ryan Murphy has been recalled on an emergency basis and will play his first NHL game against the Jets tonight.

“You’ve just got to enjoy. Regardless of what happens, you’ve got to go out there and play your game, don’t think too much and have fun with it,” said Eric Staal, when asked if he had any advice for Murphy.

The Jets didn’t do any line rushes, but their line combos and D-pairings remain the same

Puck drop set for just after 6 p.m. CT.

However, here’s how we project both teams to start:

JETS
Andrew Ladd, Bryan Little, Blake Wheeler
Evander Kane, Alex Burmistrov, Nik Antropov
Eric Tangradi, Olli Jokinen, Kyle Wellwood
James Wright, Jim Slater, Chris Thorburn

Grant Clitsome, Dustin Byfuglien
Ron Hainsey, Zach Bogosian
Mark Stuart, Zach Redmond

Ondrej Pavelec (Eddie Pasquale)

HURRICANES
Jiri Tlusty, Eric Staal, Alexander Semin
Drayson Bowman, Jordan Staal, Patrick Dwyer
Andreas Nodl, Jussi Jokinen, Tim Wallace
Chad LaRose, Riley Nash, Kevin Westgarth

Jay Harrison, Ryan Murphy
Joe Corvo, Justin Faulk
Michal Jordan, Bobby Sanguinetti

Cam Ward (Dan Ellis)