SUNRISE, Fla. — Michael Frolik was a late scratch for the Winnipeg Jets after catching a flu bug in south Florida, allowing Eric Tangradi an opportunity to jump back into the lineup against the Panthers.
Based on the warm-up, Tangradi will draw in on a line with Mark Scheifele and Matt Halischuk, while the other Jets’ line and defence pairings remain the same.
Frolik has been playing well for the Jets, so they are big shoes to fill.
With two games on this road trip, the Jets (13-12-4) have an opportunity to return home in great shape if they’re able to earn two more wins.
The Panthers (7-16-5) have the second-worst record in the NHL and have lost three consecutive games. But don’t forget they have Tim Thomas in goal, not to mention a collection of young talent that includes reigning Calder Trophy winner Jonathan Huberdeau and talented rookies Aleksander Barkov (the 2nd overall pick in the 2013 NHL Entry Draft) and Nick Bjugstad (19th overall pick in 1010) up front along with veterans like Tomas Kopecky and Tomas Fleischmann and Brian Campbell anchoring the back end.
The Jets used their speed well in a 5-2 win over the New York Rangers and it’s important they try to push the pace in this one.
The Panthers managed a pair of power-play goals in Tuesday’s 4-2 loss to the Ottawa Senators in a game that saw them blow an early 2-0 cushion.
Former Canadian world junior linemates Scheifele and Huberdeau had dinner together last night and it will be interesting to monitor the 2011 first rounders to see who has the bigger impact on the game.
Here’s how I expect both teams to start Thursday night:
Andrew Ladd-Bryan Little-Blake Wheeler
Chris Thorburn-Olli Jokinen-Devin Setoguchi
Eric T angradi-Mark Scheifele-Matt Halischuk
James Wright-John Albert-Anthony Peluso
Toby Enstrom-Dustin Byfuglien
Mark Stuart-Keaton Ellerby
Grant Clitsome-Jacob Trouba
Ondrej Pavelec (Al Monotya)
Jonathan Hudberdeau-Nick Bjugstad-Scottie Upshall
Sean Bergenheim-Aleksander Barkov-Brad Boyes
Tomas Kopecky-Marcel Goc-Tomas Fleischmann
Krys Barch-Shawn Matthias-Jimmy Hayes
Brian Campbell-Tom Gilbert
Dylan Olsen-Erik Gudbranson
Dmitry Kulikov-Mike Weaver
Tim Thomas (Scott Clemmensen)