January 22, 2012
Jets' Kane, Buff notably absent
By KIRK PENTON, QMI Agency
WINNIPEG - As expected, the Winnipeg Jets will play their final two games before the all-star break without Dustin Byfuglien and Evander Kane.
Byfuglien will miss his 14th and 15th games in a row with a knee injury and therefore is all but ruled out of Sunday’s all-star game, while Kane didn’t accompany the team to Raleigh, N.C., on Sunday afternoon due to concussion-like symptoms.
Byfuglien is still Winnipeg’s top point getter among defencemen, with 24 points in 35 games, while Kane leads the squad with 18 goals in 46 contests.
“We just gotta score by committee,” head coach Claude Noel said. “You’d like to get some production from other people, but … I’m sure they’d like it, too.”
The Jets sure could use the duo this week. They are taking on the surging Carolina Hurricanes on Monday in North Carolina before travelling to the Big Apple to take on the New York Rangers on Tuesday.
One player who is red hot for the Jets is centre Nik Antropov, who has three goals in his last two games. His two goals in Saturday’s 4-3 shootout loss to Florida was his first two-goal outing since March 18, 2010, against the Ottawa Senators.
Centre Tim Stapleton, who missed Saturday’s game with a lower-body injury, also did not make the trip to North Carolina.
CHEMISTRY CLASS: It’s likely Alex Burmistrov will be on the top line with Bryan Little and Blake Wheeler on Monday night.
Eric Fehr started Saturday’s game as Kane’s replacement, but Noel had seen enough after two periods and put Burmistrov on the No. 1 unit.
“When you keep changing wingers there’s no continuity, either, but somewhere in there you have to decide: Do you stick with it? Do you not? How much time do you give it? These are the things that you try to sort through,” Noel said. “After a while you’ve gotta see a little bit more. And if you don’t, it’s like, OK, somebody help us here.”
STORM WARNING: The Hurricanes, despite occupying the basement in the Eastern Conference, have been playing well lately. They have at least one point in five of their last six games, and they are 7-2-1 at home since Dec. 3. Those two regulation losses were both by one goal.
Monday’s game is Carolina’s final one before the all-star break, so it will be motivated to go on vacation on a winning note.
“It would be good to finish hard,” head coach Kirk Muller told reporters on Sunday.
Goaltender Cam Ward is a big reason for Carolina’s success of late; the Hurricanes have not allowed more than two goals in their last seven contests.
QUOTABLE: “Every loss is not a step back, and every win isn’t a step forward. You play 82 games. These are things that happen in games. You’re going to get these games.” — Jets head coach Claude Noel, after Saturday’s shootout loss to the Panthers.
IN THE HANGAR: The Jets are 3-for-9 on the power play in their last two games, and both of their special teams units are among the top 13 in the league … Dating back to before the Atlanta Thrashers moved to Winnipeg, the road team has won 10 of the last 15 meetings between the franchises … No team in the Southeast Division has scored more goals than it has allowed.