Jets walking wounded against Sens
KIRK PENTON, QMI Agency
|Blake Wheeler will miss the next two games for the Jets after taking a puck to the neck against the Devils. (Brian Donogh/QMI Agency)
KANATA, ONT. - The Winnipeg Jets won't have Blake Wheeler for at least the next two games, including Monday night's road game in bitterly cold Ottawa.
Wheeler, the team's leading scorer, is out of hospital and skating on his own in Winnipeg after taking a shot to the throat in Saturday's 2-1 loss to the New Jersey Devils.
“He’s OK. Everything’s fine,” Jets head coach Claude Noel said after the Jets’ morning skate at Scotiabank Place. “We’re hoping to have him back on Thursday.”
The Jets visit the Devils on Tuesday and then host the Buffalo Sabres on Thursday.
On Monday night, however, they will try to end a three-game losing streak when they take on the Senators, who have won four in a row. The Sens know they’ll be facing a team similar to a wounded animal that has been backed into a corner.
“We’ve been there. We’ve been in the same situation, losing a couple in a row,” Ottawa defenceman Erik Karlsson said. “That’s when you battle even harder. You want to prove yourself, and they’re probably going to come out hard and be really competing. They don’t want to lose four in a row, and it’s going to be a really tough game.”
Chris Mason will get the start between the pipes for the Jets, while the Senators will counter with Craig Anderson. The Sens are 8-1-1 in their last 10 and have collected at least one point in 13 of their last 14 games.
“We have to play a checking game against them, because they’re going to have the puck,” Noel said. “I’d like to be able to have it more than them, but I don’t know that they’re going to want to share it with us.”
The Senators have beaten the Jets twice this season, 4-1 in Ottawa on Oct. 20 and 6-4 at MTS Centre on Nov. 29. After a slow start to the season, the Senators (25-15-6) are comfortably in a playoff position in the Eastern Conference while the Jets (20-19-5) are not. Winnipeg is five points out of eighth.
“They look like they’re having a lot of fun,” Noel said of the Senators. “As I see them, I see us where we were in December feeling the same way. We’ve kind of gone the other way here.
“(Jason) Spezza can hurt you, and (Milan) Michalek has really been a guy that has hurt us in the series, so we gotta be aware of some of their players.”
Jets captain Andrew Ladd said Wheeler’s absence is a blow.
“He’s been a big part of the offence here the whole year,” Ladd said. “We’re gonna need other guys to step up and help us out in that department.”
Alex Burmistrov will take Wheeler’s spot on the top line with Bryan Little and Evander Kane.