DETROIT — Claude Noel has decided to ride the group that got the Winnipeg Jets their past two wins, but not because of the wins themselves but how the 18 skaters played during that stretch.
I asked the Jets head coach if it was a simple matter of continuity in the decision to keep RW Anthony Peluso and D Zach Redmond on the sidelines and Noel responded this way:
“When I watched the game back, there were a lot of good things. For the most part, pretty much everybody had decent games,” said Noel. “They were engaged in it, they were confident, they weren’t getting discouraged because of the outcome. They played a good game. There’s a lot of guys I told they were good in the game, because they were.
“There would be no need to make any kind of lineup change there.”
Sounds like sound enough logic to me, though I expect Noel would like to get Redmond his first NHL game action in the near future after five consecutive healthy scratches since his recall.
As those of you who read this space know, I believe Peluso can be an effective fourth liner and has upside but right now Noel is simply playing the guy he knows a little better and has more experience in Chris Thorburn.
It doesn’t mean Noel doesn’t like Peluso or that he’s being held out for a trade or something along those lines.
Right now, with the Jets tied for last place in the Central Division, points are at a premium and right now, Noel is more comfortable with Thorbun in the lineup.
Jets left-winger Evander Kane didn’t play the last time these two teams met and I’m thinking he’s due for a big game.
He played more than 25 minutes on Sunday, but he’s now gone five games without scoring a goal and stuck on six, which still leaves him second on the team to Bryan Little.
It’s a national TSN broadcast again tonight. The last time the Jets were shown on the big network, Kane made headlines by saying he was a healthy scratch but I’m thinking he might provide a different reason to talk about him this evening.
The Red Wings are winless in five consecutive games at Joe Louis Arena, but Noel knows it can be a tough building to play in.
“There’s a lot of tradition here and a lot of that tradition revolves around winning,” said Noel. “When you come into their building, they’re always hard to play against.”
When the Red Wings arrived in Winnipeg last week, they were riding high, winners of three straight and now they’ve lost three in a row (0-1-2), so you can be sure the hunger level will be high for the folks wearing red.
“We were rolling right along until we got to the mighty Jets there and they stomped us. We haven’t recovered,” said Red Wings head coach Mike Babcock, who was playing to his audience with a little good-natured humour. “But no, I thought we played a fairly good game against Dallas and deserved better and I thought we were fortunate to get a point against Tampa.”
Darren Helm of St. Andrews finds himself in a good spot, as he’s been bumped to the second line and the 2nd PP unit for the Red Wings.
“It’s a lot different, but I have played in (an offensive role) a long time ago, I have to remember how to do that, make some plays and see if we can get a couple of goals out there,” said Helm, who will be flanked by Johan Franzen and Daniel Alfredsson. “I don’t want to go out there and play like them. I’ve got to play like me.”
Outside of the outcome, Helm enjoyed his first NHL game at MTS Centre last week.
“It was fun. The crowd was amazing,” said Helm. “That’s what I was most excited for and they didn’t disappoint. They were loud and on their feet. It would have been nice to have a better performance, but that’s how some nights go.”
Speaking of healthy scratches, Babcock is making veteran Dan Cleary a healthy scratch tonight.
Cleary took the news well, but Babock — who called himself Cleary’s biggest fan — figures Cleary would be “pissed off” by the news.
“I have to work hard, be positive and be professional about it,” said Cleary, who has a goal and three points in 18 games this season while primarily playing a Top-6 role. “Frustrating is normal, but you can’t dwell on the negatives.”
Here’s how I expect both teams to start on Tuesday:
Andrew Ladd-Bryan Little-Blake Wheeler
Evander Kane-Olli Jokinen-Devin Setoguchi
Matt Halischuk-Mark Scheifele-Michael Frolik
Eric Tangradi-James Wright-Chris Thorburn
Grant Clitsome-Dustin Byfuglien
Toby Enstrom-Zach Bogosian
Adam Pardy-Keaton Ellerby
Ondrej Pavelec (Al Monotya)
Henrik Zetterberg-Pavel Datsyuk-Tood Bertuzzi
Johan Franzen-Darren Helm-Daniel Alfredsson
Tomas Tatar-Joakim-Andersson-Mikael Samuelsson
Drew Miller-Luke Glendening-Justin Abdelkader
Niklas Kronwall-Dan DeKeyser
Kyle Quincey-Xavier Ouellet
Jakub Kindl-Brian Lashoff
Jimmy Howard (Jonas Gustavsson)