Jets ready for Flyers (updated with projected line combos)

- February 11th, 2013

What we know for sure is that Dustin Byfuglien is ready to return to the Winnipeg Jets lineup on Tuesday night after missing the past five games with a lower-body injury.

His absence has been felt.

“He’s a good player in a lot of ways. He’s good on the breakout. He makes really good breakout passes. Your forwards really like playing with him because he can hit you at any time. He gets a lot of shots to the net, so you’re creating a lot of offence with him out there. He’s good on the power play. He’s a pretty effective player in a lot of areas. One of the areas for me is that he’s  a strong man. He’s a guy that can get it stopped in the D-zone and that can help you in other ways, it helps your positioning. That’s one of the things I think we’ve missed. We’ve spent some time in our zone and we’d like to cut back on that. It’s dependent on a lot of different factors, but we’ve had some shifts where we’ve been in there for 40, 50 seconds, a minute almost. Sometimes, with a guy like Buff, he can get it stopped, you get quick support and you get it out,” said Jets head coach Claude Noel.

Byfuglien had three power play goals and seven points in six games before the injury while averaging 26 minutes and 58 seconds of ice time per game.

“We miss him because he plays a lot of minutes and obviously plays a lot of power play time. It will be good to have him back out there eating up some of those minutes. He was one of our most offensive guys before he got hurt and it will be nice to have that back,” said Jets defenceman Mark Stuart.

Even without Byfuglien recently, the Jets continue to lead the NHL with 34 points from the back end, including two goals and 13 points from Toby Enstrom.

Enstrom has been garnering plenty of attention the past few games, so he should also be happy about Byfuglien’s return.

Zach Bogosian hasn’t yet been ruled out by Noel, but it looks more likely that the earliest he’ll be back is Friday against the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Once Bogosian is ready, it will leave the Jets with eight blue-liners. Noel didn’t want to talk about who might have to sit out once Byfuglien returns.

Our best guess is that the Jets will try to find a way to keep all eight D-men on the roster.

Rookie Zach Redmond is the only one who doesn’t need to clear waivers to be sent to the minors, but he’s playing well enough to likely stay among the Top-6 right now.

That leaves Paul Postma and Grant Clitsome to battle with Redmond and company for ice time moving forward and from where I sit, healthy competition is good.

Speaking of healthy competition, my column today talks about why the Jets should start Al Montoya instead of undisputed No. 1 Ondrej Pavelec against the Flyers.

http://www.winnipegsun.com/2013/02/11/winnipeg-jets-should-ride-the-hot-hand-of-al-montoya

Speaking of the Flyers, their starting goalie for Tuesday could be in question as well after Ilya Bryzgalov was pulled in Monday’s 5-2 loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Was Bryzgalov pulled early because Peter Laviolette plans to run him back out there again or did he put Brian Boucher in so he could get a few NHL shots in so he would be more prepared to face the Jets?

We’ll only likely know for sure Tuesday night.

The Flyers are 5-7-1 this season, but 1-6 on the road.

These two teams had some wild games last season, including a 9-8 thriller in Philadelphia last season that saw the Jets blow a big lead and then come back to win.

The clubs combined for 39 goals in just four games, with the Jets winning three of four games (the only loss saw the Flyers win score in the final minute of regulation to tie it before Jaromir Jagr buried the OT winner with 44 seconds remaining in a 5-4 victory).

It should be interesting to see how the two teams match up this season.

The Jets are coming off a 1-0 victory over the Ottawa Senators and are looking to put consecutive wins together for the first time since they’re three-game winning streak (4-2 over Washington, 4-2 over Pittsburgh and 5-4 over the New York Islanders between Jan. 22 and 27).

“It was huge. I don’t know how many 1-0 games we’ve played. It was good to be on the right end of one. We needed it, Monty was huge for us and hopefully there is more of that to come,” said Jets winger Blake Wheeler.

“It was big. It’s so much fun to have a shutout. As a defenceman, it’s nice to win a 1-0 game once in a while, or a 2-1 game. Especially lately, our goals against isn’t where we want it to be. That’s collectively on us, it’s not just the goaltender or the D or the forwards. It’s everybody. We had a full team effort for 60 minutes in Ottawa and a lot of guys make sacrifices to keep it at zero,” added Stuart.

“It helps us. It helps the commitment to the team to try to find ways to win the game. After the previous game to Toronto, that was a real tough game to deal with, for everybody. It could really unnerve you, in a lot of ways. For us to really battle through and find a way, to win that game, albeit 1-0, was a pretty big task for us. It was really good for the players,” said Noel.

Although Anthony Peluso was working in with the fourth line at times, it looked like Noel wasn’t planning to make any changes to his forward line combinations for Tuesday’s game.

“You have to find a fine line between patience and… I don’t want to start getting into the merry-go-round of lines. You’ve got to allow the lines find their way a little bit,” said Noel.

One other note with Manitoba connections saw Jets farm hand Kevin Clark get released from his standard players contract by the St. John’s IceCaps so he could sign with the Krefeld Penguins of the German Elite League.

The Winnipegger spent the past three-plus seasons under the True North umbrella, but thought it was time to give the European game a shot.

The Penguins are currently tied for third place with nine games to go and Clark is excited about the prospect of a playoff push.

Clark, who signed a two-year deal, said he had a good chat with IceCaps head coach Keith McCambridge on Monday morning and said he understood his decision.

As for Tuesday’s game with the Flyers, Al Montoya will indeed make his second straight start for the Jets.

It looks like D Grant Clitsome will be a healthy scratch, Zach Bogosian isn’t quite ready to return and that it will be a game-time decision to see if its Anthony Peluso or James Wright on the fourth line.

The Flyers didn’t skate on Tuesday, so we’ll update their projected lines later in the day.

Here’s how we expect the Jets to start:

JETS

Andrew Ladd,Bryan Little, Blake Wheeler
Evander Kane, Olli Jokinen, Nik Antropov
Alexei Ponikarovsky,  Alex Burmistrov, Kyle Wellwood
James Wright/Anthony Peluso, Jim Slater, Chris Thorburn

Defence
Toby Enstrom, Dustin Byfuglien
Ron Hainsey, Zach Redmond
Mark Stuart, Paul Postma

Goalies
Al Montoya
Ondrej Pavelec

 

FLYERS

Matt Read-Claude Giroux-Wayne Simmonds

Tye McGinn-Brayden Schenn-Jakub Voracek

Ruslan Fedotenko-Daniel Briere-Mike Knuble

Harry Zolnierczyk-Max Talbot-Zac Rinaldo

Kimmo Timmonen-Luke Schenn

Braydon Coburn-Bruno Gervais

Nicklas Grossmann-Kurtis Foster

Ilya Bryzgalov (Brian Boucher)

 

Categories: Hockey

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