Jets set to battle Penguins

- January 25th, 2013

Sidney Crosby is about to play his first NHL game at MTS Centre on Friday night and naturally, that alone created quite a buzz at the morning skate.

Crosby spoke fondly of his previous experience in the city, from when Canada’s world junior camp trained here and even spent a couple days in Gimli, prior to coming away with a gold medal in Grand Forks, N.D.

“I have great memories of playing here, I remember the crowd, just for an exhibition game and how exciting that was, the environment,” said Crosby. “Playing in North Dakota, it felt like it was a home event for us, with so many people coming down from Winnipeg.”

Despite the -25 C temperatures, Crosby bundled up and decided to walk from the hotel to the rink in the morning so he could experience some genuine Canadian winter weather.

“Believe it or not, you miss it,” said Crosby. “You miss seeing the snow, it’s hockey weather. It was nice to get out.”

It should be interesting to see how the crowd responds to Crosby, given the Crosby’s better chants directed at Alex Ovechkin last season. Crosby doesn’t know what might be coming his way, given the captain’s and star players often get the boo-bird treatment.

Crosby did produce the Golden Goal that gave Canada a gold medal in the Olympics in 2010 after all.

“In this type of environment, it’s exciting to be playing in a new place,” said Crosby. “Playing in Philadelphia has pretty much prepared me for anything, at this point.”

The Jets, meanwhile, are hoping to build on a solid road trip that saw them come away with three of a possible four points against the Boston Bruins and Washington Capitals.

They’re also hoping to erase the memory of getting blown out twice by the Penguins at the end of last season.

“You have to have respect for other teams, but you can’t give them too much respect or they’re going to walk all over you,” said Kane. “We definitely respect the Pittsburgh Penguins, but at the same time, we have to play like we can beat them on any given night. We’ll see what happens here tonight.

“It’s always good to challenge yourself against the best players in the world. It’s going to bring the best out of us, especially in our home building.”

Jets head coach Claude Noel told reporters he thought it was too early for this to serve as a measuring stick of any kind, but you can be sure he’s curious if his group can continue to show the commitment to defence they had in their past two games.

Noel will make one lineup change, inserting Kyle Wellwood for youngster Mark Scheifele, who has played three games and has two more to enjoy before the Jets need to decide whether or not he’s going to remain in the NHL or be sent back to the OHL’s Barrie Colts.

Wellwood was a healthy scratch against the Capitals and is eager to get right back in the lineup.

“Certainly I was surprised,” said Wellwood, when I asked him if he was surprised to be a healthy scratch on Tuesday. “Of course, you’re off for nine months and you do everything you can to be prepared to play and you try to have success. You just want to get up to your top pace as fast as possible.”

Former Jet Tanner Glass attracted a large scrum at his locker following the morning skate, perhaps even a little bigger than Crosby’s (since it was broken up into print and broadcast separately).

“This might be the one and only time, so I’m going to enjoy it while I can,” said Glass.

He’s curious about the reception he might get and wondered if there might be any G-S-T chants in the crowd, should the trio get on the ice together.

Perhaps a Slater or Thorburn is better chant?

Unlikely but you never know.

“Maybe a little cheer but then probably some rousing too, they’re great fans so I don’t know what to expect really,” said Glass.

Ondrej Pavelec makes his fourth consecutive start for the Jets, while the Penguins counter with Tomas Vokoun.

Here are the projected lineups for both teams, at least to start:

Jets

Evander Kane-Olli Jokinen-Blake Wheeler

Andrew Ladd-Nik Antropov-Bryan Little

Alexei Ponikarovsky-Alex Burmistrov-Kyle Wellwood

James Wright-Jim Slater-Chris Thorburn

Toby Enstrom-Dustin Byfuglien

Mark Stuart-Ron Hainsey

Grant Clitsome-Paul Postma

Ondrej Pavelec (Al Montoya)

Penguins

Chris Kunitz-Sidney Crosby-Pascal Dupuis

James Neal-Evgeni Malking-Tyler Kennedy

Tanner Glass-Brandon Sutter-Matt Cooke

Eric Tangradi-Joe Vitale-Craig Adams

Kris Letang-Matt Niskanen

Brooks Orpik-Paul Martin

Ben Lovejoy-Deryk Engelland

Tomas Vokoun (Marc-Andre Fleury)

Categories: Hockey

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