A reunion of old Southeast Division rivals takes place on Tuesday as the Winnipeg Jets travel to Raleigh, to face the Carolina Hurricanes. You remember the Southeast Division don’t you? Ah, the good old days when 94 points was good enough to win the division. Brings back memories.
This will be the second time in 11 days these two “rivals” will face each other. The Hurricanes defeated the Jets 5-3 back on February 5 after a four-goal outburst in the first period for Carolina.
The Jets have won three out of their last four games which has slowed down the tank talk a little bit. The surprising aspect is that the three wins came on the road while the one loss happened at the MTS Centre.
The Hurricanes are in the thick of the Eastern Conference playoff race, as they sit four points adrift of the second wildcard spot. Every game is important for Carolina so expect a strong effort from an underrated team.
Rookie Nikolaj Ehlers has been bumped up to the first line and has shown he can play with the big boys. He scored an absolute laser of a goal against Boston on Thursday night and followed that up with a gorgeous setup on Blake Wheeler’s goal Saturday night in Edmonton. While the present seems gloomy, the future looks bright, thanks to the Dashing Dane.
Adam Lowry missed practice on Monday but no reason was given to why. We say Lowry is a go for this one but that could change at the last second.
There will be a change on the blueline. Noted anchor and possession nightmare Mark Stuart broke his hand after blocking a shot Saturday night in Edmonton and will miss 4-6 weeks.
No Mark Stuart on ice for #NHLJets today at practice in Carolina. Took shot on the hand in Edmonton on Saturday.
— Ted Wyman (@Ted_Wyman) February 15, 2016
Coach Paul Maurice says Mark Stuart will miss the next 4-6 weeks with a broken hand.
— Winnipeg Jets (@NHLJets) February 15, 2016
With Stuart out, Adam Pardy will draw into the lineup. Pardy is the choice over Paul Postma because he’s a left-handed shot like Stuart and is strong on the penalty kill which Stuart isn’t. Postma deserves a chance to play as well but the Jets are relatively strong on the right side of the blueline so he’s a victim of numbers once again.
Ondrej Pavelec made a triumphant return to the crease Saturday night, stopping 22 out of 23 shots plus all three shootout attempts in the Jets win over Edmonton. Pavelec will most likely start against Carolina and Jets fans are hoping Pavelec can find some consistency in his game, something that has been lacking throughout his career.
The Hurricanes are a good puck possession team which makes them a difficult opponent. Kris Versteeg has killed the Jets in the past, but he was held off the scoresheet in the first meeting.
Eric Staal has been the subject of trade rumours as he is set to become an unrestricted free agent on July 1. The Hurricanes captain hasn’t asked for a trade at this moment and if the Hurricanes are still in the playoff hunt, he will likely stay put. Look for a motivated Staal on the ice.
One player not mentioned his Justin Faulk who has missed the last two games with a lower body injury. However, the Hurricanes leading scorer will skate Tuesday and will be a game time decision according to Carolina head coach Bill Peters.
Coach Peters said Justin Faulk will skate tomorrow & a decision will be made then. He called Cam Ward’s status for Tuesday doubtful. #Canes
— Carolina Hurricanes (@NHLCanes) February 15, 2016
Former Jet Ron Hainsey will see action against his former club. Interesting stat. Hainsey has played in 810 regular season games but zero playoff games. He hopes to see his first postseason action this spring.
Former Manitoba Moose keeper Eddie Lack is likely to get the start. Cam Ward, who backstopped the Canes to a victory over the Jets on February 5 suffered a lower body injury Saturday night and is listed as doubtful for Tuesday’s game.
Game Prediction: Call it a hunch but the Jets seem to play better on the road as of late. Carolina needs the points so this one goes to overtime. Jets win 4-3.
Obvious Prediction: There will be at least one reference to NASCAR and college basketball on the Jets broadcast. Both sports are huge in North Carolina.
Not So Obvious Prediction: Andrew Ladd gets traded after the game. But don’t bet money on that one.