Jets get big test vs Ducks

- January 21st, 2014

ANAHEIM — The Winnipeg Jets find themselves with a monumental test on their hands, a subject head coach Paul Maurice wasn’t exactly shying away from on Tuesday following the morning skate.

The Jets (22-23-5) meet the league-leading Anaheim Ducks (37-9-5) tonight at the Honda Centre, where the home side has yet to lose a game in regulation time and sits 20-0-2 overall.

But is it really a measuring stick game for the Jets, who have gone 3-0 since Maurice took over from Claude Noel?

“It’s going to be looked at (like) that,” said Maurice, whose club has won the first three games of his tenure. “I’m interested to see how well we can sustain what we’re doing under some pretty heavy firepower. For Anaheim, they pounce on so much and make the most out of so much. There was a game I was watching a couple weeks ago and they were down 2-0 and with three shots, it was 3-2 (Ducks). They weren’t huge breakdowns, just really high-end guys getting the puck on their stick.

“Then there’s going to be an adversity factor, because there will be parts of this game if we’re playing really, really well that we don’t control. That’s the way the game works. Against a team like that, they’re going to have zone time. So, a measuring stick, not in terms of who we are, but where we’re at.”

The Jets get Evander Kane back after he missed the past four contests with a hand injury sustained in a fight with Tampa Bay Lighting defenceman Eric Brewer.

I asked Kane today what he thought the strengths of his new line with Blake Wheeler and Mark Scheifele are?

“You guys know their strengths and you know mine, I mean I don’t know if I need to analyze everybody’s strengths, it’s pretty self-explanatory, the type of player they are and the type of player I am,” said Kane, who expanded slightly when I asked him if he liked the new look. “Yeah, I’ve played with both of those guys before. For me, it’s something that I just have to try to come in and hopefully find some chemistry.”

I also asked Maurice what he expects from Kane in the first game under his watch?

“I don’t know. He’s not been in the room between periods, so we’ll work with him on some of the routes and things like that,” said Maurice. “He’s been off a while so usually I don’t have a high expectations of a player who has been off injury for so long. You manage his minutes a little bit. But I’ve also seen him playing enough hockey to know that he’s very dynamic and very capable and he may very well come out here tonight and play like he never missed a game.”

Kane loves to make a grand entrance and if the Jets are to become the first team to knock off the Ducks in Anaheim this season, there’s a better than average chance that Kane is going to have a hand in the outcome.

There was some interesting news this morning as Jets chairman Mark Chipman said True North is in the very early stages of looking into moving their American Hockey League affiliate from St. John’s, Newfoundland to Thunder Bay, Ontario, noting it wouldn’t take place before the 2016-17 season or unless the new arena and entertainment facility (proposed to seat 5,700 for hockey) is actually built.

The Jets have been happy with the relationship with the folks in St. John’s, a franchise that has sold out every home game during the first two-and-a-half seasons of the affiliation.

But with the Jets moving to the Western Conference from the East, the challenges of accessing call-ups have increased, which Chipman explained is the main reason behind exploring the possible move.

I’ll explore that subject a little further in a pre-game story. I will also write about former Jets RW Teemu Selanne as he gets closer to participating in the Olympics for what figures to be the final time.

Back to the day’s events. The return of Kane meant Maurice was going to have to remove someone from the lineup and it appears James Wright has drawn the short straw and will join fellow forward Eric Tangradi and defenceman Zach Redmond as healthy scratches.

The Ducks are going to scratch Winkler product Dustin Penner, RW Tim Jackman and D Luca Sbisa, while D Sami Vatanen has been sent down to the Norfolk Admirals for the sole reason that he doesn’t require waivers.

Here’s how I expect both teams to start on Tuesday:

Jets Gameday lines

Andrew Ladd-Bryan Little-Michael Frolik
Evander Kane-Mark Scheifele-Blake Wheeler
Devin Setoguchi-Olli Jokinen-Dustin Byfuglien
James Wright-Eric O’Dell-Chris Thorburn

Toby Enstrom-Zach Bogosian
Mark Stuart-Jacob Trouba
Adam Pardy-Keaton Ellerby

Ondrej Pavelec (Al Montoya)

Ducks

Matt Beleskey-Ryan Getzlaf-Corey Perry
Jakob Silfverberg-Nick Bonino-Kyle Palmieri
Daniel Winnik-Saku Koivu-Andrew Cogliano
Patrick Maroon-Mathieu Perreault-Teemu Selanne

Francois Beauchemin-Hampus Lindholm
Cam Fowler-Ben Lovejoy
Mark Fistric-Bryan Allen

Jonas Hiller (Frederik Andersen)

Categories: Hockey

Subscribe to the post

Leave a comment

 characters available