Jets lose Kane again, set to face Predators

- January 28th, 2014

The big news coming out of the morning skate was that Winnipeg Jets left-winger Evander Kane has suffered an infection to his right hand and won’t be back in action until after the Olympic break.

Colleague Kirk Penton handled the story off the morning skate and posted a few videos here: http://www.winnipegsun.com/2014/01/28/evander-kane-out-of-jets-lineup-until-after-olympic-break

The Jets have six games before the break, then return to action on Feb. 27 against the Phoenix Coyotes.

An infection was exactly what Jets head coach Paul Maurice said the team was guarding against as they held Kane out of the lineup for four games after he suffered a deep gash on his hand during a fight with Eric Brewer of the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Despite the numerous precautions that were taken and the patient approach, Kane still got an infection and will be out of the lineup for at least a month.

It’s a significant blow for the Jets, as Kane was starting to mesh well with Mark Scheifele and Blake Wheeler on a line that features plenty of speed and finish.

Wheeler missed the morning skate as he’s been feeling under the weather, but Maurice said he’d be in the lineup today.

Based on the morning skate, Chris Thorburn moves up beside Scheifele and Wheeler at least to start, though Eric O’Dell could get himself a bump into the Top-9 at some point if the Jets cut down to three lines.

Not surprisingly, the Jets are going back with Ondrej Pavelec in goal, while the Preds counter with Carter Hutton.

With Kane out, James Wright draws back in, so Eric Tangradi and Zach Redmond should be the healthy scratches.

Speaking of the morning skate, Jim Slater took part with the full group for the first time since undergoing sports hernia surgery, but he remains on injured reserve and Maurice said he won’t be ready to play until after the Olympic break, at the earliest, either.

Jets defenceman Mark Stuart spoke this morning about the importance of the Hockey Talks program, which takes centre stage tonight as the Jets will wearing Rypien 11 jerseys as a tribute to the late Rick Rypien, who had signed with the Jets as a free agent before losing his battle with mental illness.

Stuart also talked about Rypien, who had signed with the Jets in the summer of 2011 before losing his battle with mental illness.

“It’s unfortunate that we’ve experienced some hardships in the past but we can learn from those and just hope the conversation continues to get better and better. We have to be comfortable and talk more,” said Stuart. “It doesn’t matter who you are, what kind of family you come from or what kind of personality you have, anybody can be affected by mental health issues. If you look at a guy like Rick, he was a hard-nosed guy and everything that I’d heard about him, I know I really would have enjoyed playing with him because he’s a guy that came to work every day and worked really hard and was a tough, tough guy.”

As for the game itself, the Jets are 6-1 under Maurice and have an opportunity to make things a little more interesting in the Western Conference with another win tonight.

The Predators are only one point behind the Jets, who have an opportunity to put some ground between the two Central Division rivals, following a 3-1 win over the Chicago Blackhawks.

“It’s a big division games and those are always four points,” said Jets winger Michael Frolik. “(The Predators) don’t have big stars there but they play a team game. It’s always tough to play against them. They have a really good structure, good system and they put everything to the net. We have to be ready for them

“We just need to put the (Blackhawks) game behind and focus on the next one. That’s been the mindset since Paul got here. Don’t get satisfied and just keep working hard.”

Jets rookie D-man Jacob Trouba is excited about the opportunity to play against his former defence partner, Seth Jones, for the first time (Trouba missed the first three meetings between the two teams as he sat out 17 games with a neck injury).

“It’s going to be exciting but there’s a lot more things I have to worry about in this game,” said Trouba, who has seven goals and 18 points in 37 games. “We have a couple of things that are similar and we’re adjusting to and we’ve talked about some of them, but a lot of it we’ve just got to go about it ourselves. It’s not easy in this league. It’s good to see him do well and have some success.

Jones started the season on the top pair with Shea Weber, playing his off-side, but has since been moved to the right side on the second pair, with Michael Del Zotto, who was acquired recently from the New York Rangers.

I asked Trouba what he thought was Jones’ biggest strength.

“Just how calm he is getting the puck out of his own zone,” said Trouba. “He’s pretty slick. He’ll go back and break out by himself if he needs to. Watching him the last couple of years, that’s the thing that me and a couple of other teammates were in awe of. He’s pretty special, he’s a great skater and strong puck mover.”

That may be true but it also sounds a lot like how Trouba plays, thanks to his skating ability and smarts, he can be a one-man breakout when need be as well.

The Predators are having trouble scoring goals and Winnipegger Colin Wilson finds himself playing on the fourth line and you have to wonder if he might benefit from a change of scenery as he’s never really blossomed into the power forward many projected he might become.

Wilson starts Tuesday’s game on the third line and has only seven goals and 23 points in 53 games this season.

Here’s how I expect both teams to start tonight:

Jets

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

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

Ondrej Pavelec (Al Montoya)

Predators

Eric Nystrom-Mike Fisher-Patric Hornqvist
Nick Spaling-David Legwand-Craig Smith
Gabriel Bourque-Paul Gaustad-Colin Wilson
Richard Clune-Colton Scissons-Taylor Beck

Roman Josi-Shea Weber
Michael Del Zotto-Seth Jones
Mattias Ekholm-Ryan Ellis

Carter Hutton (Devan Dubnyk)

Injuries
Jets
LW Evander Kane (hand)
RW Matt Halischuk (fractured forearm)
D Paul Postma (blood clot in leg)
C Jim Slater (sports hernia)
D Grant Clitsome (back)

Predators
G Pekka Rinne (hip)
F Viktor Stalberg (upper-body)
C Matt Cullen (upper-body)

Categories: Hockey

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