Jets meet Sens in Saturday matinee

- March 8th, 2014

After dropping a 3-1 decision to the Los Angeles Kings on Thursday night, the Winnipeg Jets are looking to snap a two-game losing skid against the Ottawa Senators this afternoon.

To be blunt, the Kings imposed their will on the Jets and their patient game was a not-so-subtle reminder that Winnipeg simply can’t afford to force plays in the neutral zone.

The Jets (30-27-7) enter Friday’s action three points behind the Dallas Stars in the chase for the final wild-card spot.

“The important thing from a game like (Thursday) night, you watch those guys play and it’s always the same thing,” said Jets winger Blake Wheeler. “Those guys are always doing the same thing. And we got in trouble, trying to force it a little bit. That’s what gives teams like that so much success. The biggest compliment is that it’s almost boring to play against them. It’s a tough game, not a whole lot of exciting things going on.

“But that’s the beauty of it, their details are spot on every time.”

The Senators are in a wild-card chase of their own and coming off losses to the Calgary Flames and Edmonton Oilers.

“I’ve liked the way Ottawa has played since Paul MacLean has gone in there,” said Maurice. “I know they’re in a little bit of a tough stretch, but I thought he did a great job of transforming the way they looked and they became really dangerous.

“Coming off the LA game, we can’t try to do the things we tried to do in the neutral zone and on our attack, especially against them. We need to make sure we’ve learned our lesson from last night going into this game.”

The Jets will dress the same lineup and give Ondrej Pavelec a fifth consecutive start, while the Senators start Craig Anderson and will be without Clarke MacArthur, who suffered a hand injury against the Calgary Flames earlier this week.

Michael Frolik did a nice job playing centre with Mark Scheifele out and as I wrote in Saturday’s column, this is a big opportunity for Devin Setoguchi to salvage what has been a disappointing season in terms of offensive production.

Speaking of Scheifele’s absence, guys like Evander Kane, Dustin Byfuglien, Bryan Little, Andrew Ladd, Blake Wheeler and Olli Jokinen (who scored his 15th goal on Thursday), must surely pick up the offensive slack.

I’m also curious to see if Paul Maurice gives his fourth line of Jim Slater, Anthony Peluso and Eric Tangradi get a little more ice time. Peluso and Tangradi were close to four minutes the other night and they need to earn the trust of Maurice to earn more ice time and the Jets certainly need to roll four lines a bit more with so many games in such a short period of time.

Be on the lookout for Sens D Erik Karlsson and keep your eyes on the second unit of Kyle Turris, Bobby Ryan and Mike Hoffman, who replaces MacArthur.

Jason Spezza has had a few great games against the Jets and I’m curious to see how newcomer Ales Hemsky fits on that top line.

Here’s how I expect both teams to start:

Jets

Andrew Ladd-Bryan Little-Blake Wheeler
Evander Kane-Olli Jokinen-Dustin Byfuglien
Matt Halischuk-Michael Frolik-Devin Setoguchi
Eric Tangradi-Jim Slater-Anthony Peluso

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

Ondrej Pavelec (Al Montoya)

Senators

Milan Michalek-Jason Spezza-Ales Hemsky
Mike Hoffman-Kyle Turris-Bobby Ryan
Colin Greening-Zack Smith-Chris Neil
Matt Kassian-Mika Zibanejad-Erik Condra

Marc Methot-Erik Karlsson
Chris Phillips-Cody Ceci
Jared Cowen-Eric Gryba

Craig Anderson (Robin Lehner)

Categories: Hockey

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