Will Jets bring attitude against Blues?

- October 18th, 2013

F-U.

Exclamation point.

Good afternoon to you as well, but the words of the day were uttered by Winnipeg Jets winger Evander Kane, who suggested his team needs to bring an F-U attitude and mentality moving forward in terms of preparing for their opponents.

Kane used the phrase F-U, he didn’t offer the expletive for the media members in attendance following the morning skate, nor did he have to.

The message was crystal clear and Kane was referring, at least in part, to the slow starts that have been plaguing the Jets this year, especially during this homestand where they’ve dropped three of four games to fall to 3-4 overall.

Here’s my web story if you missed it earlier: http://www.winnipegsun.com/2013/10/18/kane-says-jets-need-f-u-attitude

Finding this new attitude is going to be a challenge against the St. Louis Blues, regardless of the fact the Western Conference powerhouse played last night and earned a 3-2 shootout win over the Chicago Blackhawks at the United Center.

These two teams have met only once since the Jets returned to the NHL — a 3-2 shootout victory by the Blues back on Feb. 12 of 2011 — but the Blues are one of the hardest checking teams in the league and were declared favourites in many pre-season projections (including mine, where I have the Blues reaching the Stanley Cup final as Western Conference champions).

Will we see a little extra fire from the Jets after falling 3-0 to the Montreal Canadiens on Tuesday night?

“You can make a statement for sure,” said Jets centre Jim Slater, when asked about the mentality of trying to rebound from a subpar effort against an elite team. “Obviously, we know these guys are described by the media as Stanley Cup contenders and we know we’re going to be playing them quite a bit throughout the year. It would be nice to get off to a good start against them.”

“They’re just a good team, they play a good team game and they’ve been that way for a few years now,” said Jets defenceman Zach Bogosian. “They’re a big, strong team that works hard and plays the full three periods. It will be a good challenge for us.”

“This is a big test for us to kind of see where we are right now,” added Jets centre Bryan Little.

Jets head coach Claude Noel offered some heady praise for the Blues when asked about them this morning.

“Hitch has done a great job there with his staff,” said Noel, acknowledging the work of one of his coaching mentors, Ken Hitchcock. “They make you earn every inch of ice and you’ve got to be ready to work, play in the hard areas. They’re a hard team to play against when they play the way they play. They don’t give you much offensively and you’ve got to work your way through stuff.

“I like their team, they’ve got a nice team. They’ve got a lot of good parts.”

Kane’s right leg injury isn’t 100%, by his own admission, but he’s preparing to play and Noel is expecting him to play — barring an unexpected setback during the warm-up.

Little (lower-body) and Slater (undisclosed) also declared themselves ready to go, so it looks like the forward group is going to remain the same.

The one possible exception is that Patrice Cormier could draw in for James Wright on the fourth line. I would call this doubtful but Wright did stay out for extra work on Friday, so we’ll see during the warm-up.

On defence, Grant Clitsome is in for Paul Postma and has been reunited with Dustin Byfuglien.

Clitsome’s played in three games, none of which have gone particularly well, and Noel explained the decision this way.

“He’s played there before and it matches things up a little better for us,” said Noel. “He’s a guy that’s played with Buff before and he’s done well. The other thing it does is move (Zach) Bogosian out of the left side, which is a concern. I don’t think that’s a fit for him. It gives us more flexibility this way.

“Grant knows how he needs to play and he’s played well with Buff before. We’re just trying to help him.”

Bogosian moving to right side means he’s with Toby Enstrom, so Jacob Trouba is back with Mark Stuart.

Bogosian told me earlier this week there are a lot of challenges to being a right-handed shot playing on the left side and he said during his scrum today that he’s looking forward to being back on his natural side.

Trouba has been very good for the Jets and I’ll be surprised if he doesn’t get to 20 minutes tonight with all of his special-teams play. It will be interesting to see how Trouba handles the weight of some of the Blues’ top-end forwards as they have a lot of size and can play a really “heavy” game.

The goaltending match-up features Ondre Pavelec for the Jets and Briant Elliott for the Blues.

Elliott has only appeared in one game so far and has a 6.00 GAA and .846 save percentage. It’s a small sample size but the Jets are facing the Blues back-up and we’ll see if they can take advantage of the fact they’re avoiding Jaroslav Halak (5-1, 2.26 GAA, .919 save %) this time around.

The Blues didn’t skate Friday because of their game on Thursday night but head coach Ken Hitchcock told the traveling media he was making a couple changes to his lineup, coming out are veteran F Brenden Morrow and D Barrett Jackman — who have upper-body issues.

The Blues have a pair of players with local ties, Winnipeggers Alex Steen and Ryan Reaves.

Here’s how I expect both teams to start the game:

Jets

Evander Kane-Bryan Little-Blake Wheeler
Andrew Ladd-Mark Scheifele-Devin Setoguchi
Eric Tangradi-Olli Jokinen-Michael Frolik
James Wright/Patrice Cormier-Jim Slater-Matt Halischuk

Grant Clitsome-Dustin Byfuglien
Toby Enstrom-Zach Bogosian
Mark Stuart-Jacob Trouba

Ondrej Pavelec (Al Monotya)

Blues (thanks to Jeremy Rutherford of St. Louis Post-Dispatch for the projected Blues lines)

Alexander Steen-David Backes-T.J. Oshie
Vladimir Sobotka-Derek Roy-Chris Stewart
Jaden Schwartz-Patrik Berglund-Vladimir Tarasenko
Magnus Paajarvi-Adam Cracknell-Ryan Reaves

Jay Bouwmeester-Alex Pietrangelo
Jordan Leopold-Kevin Shattenkirk
Ian Cole-Roman Polak

Brian Elliott (Jaroslav Halak)

Categories: Hockey

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1 comment

  1. vadeux says:

    Slater says “it would be nice to get off to a good start”…
    i have to disagree in a way…it is a must to start strong…an imperative necessity…a gimmie.

    no nice attitudes until things are under control for the team.
    fire is what’s needed, not carefully chosen words.

    saw slater playing on fire a few days ago, expect he will be on it again tonight.

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