February 6, 2012
Kane, Stapleton game-time decisions
By KIRK PENTON, QMI Agency
WINNIPEG - There’s a chance Evander Kane and Tim Stapleton will be back in the lineup for the Winnipeg Jets on Tuesday night against the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Both forwards have missed Winnipeg’s last seven games, Kane with a concussion and Stapleton with a lower-body injury.
While Kane is Winnipeg’s leading scorer, he had gone 10 games without a goal before he got hurt.
PP PAIN: A big reason for Winnipeg’s scoring woes lately has been its pathetic power play, which failed to click in each and every game of its six-game road trip. They were 0-for-15 overall, and the six-game power-play skid is the longest of the season.
“It has to be an avenue for us to get enthusiasm in our game, and when you don’t have it, it does exactly what it did in Montreal,” Noel said.
The Jets had five power-play opportunities on Sunday afternoon against the Habs, and Noel said his team’s confidence waned with each failed attempt. That’s why he and his assistant coaches were planning to hunker down in their MTS Centre offices on Monday afternoon to work on improving their play with the man advantage.
“We have to be a lot better on our power play,” he said.
TIME TO POUNCE: Every team is better than the Jets when it comes to the second half of back-to-back games, and the Leafs are no exception.
The Buds had to play the Edmonton Oilers at home on Monday night and then jet to Winnipeg after the game. The good news for the Leafs is they are 3-5-1 in the second half of back-to-backs.
There is good news for the hosts, however. The Jets are 10-1-1 this season when facing a team that had to play the night before and Winnipeg was at home in their beds. That includes a 7-0-1 mark at home. The only team to nip the Jets at MTS Centre was the Florida Panthers, who scored a 4-3 shootout victory on Jan. 21, one night after playing in Chicago.
In fact, Winnipeg’s first regulation loss under those circumstances occurred on Sunday in Montreal, who had played 24 hours earlier at home against Washington.
Finally, the Jets score more when facing a tired team. In seven of the 12 instances when their opponent played the night before and they did not, the Jets have scored four or more goals.
TRYOUT TIME: Noel is looking forward to seeing what kind of players he has over the next month as they try and work their way into playoff position. That will be good news for some players and bad for others.
“You see what you’ve got,” Noel said. “You see who steps up, you see who can handle the load, who can play, who can do what.”
INJURIES HURT: Noel didn’t want to blame injuries for his team’s current slump, but he did anyway.
“I wouldn’t say we’re exhausted, but these things wear on you,” he said. “They wear on you because with the number of injuries we’ve had — and I don’t like to use that — but the number of injuries puts stress on your roster, and eventually these things catch up with you.”
The Jets have lost 233 man games to injury this season.
AROUND THE GLASS: Leafs head coach Ron Wilson told the Toronto media there was a good chance Jonas Gustavsson will get the start for Toronto on Tuesday night … Jets C Nik Antropov had two shots on Winnipeg’s recent six-game road trip … The Jets have two regulation victories in 16 games since Jan. 1 … After Tuesday’s game, Winnipeg heads back out on the road for games in Washington (Thursday) and Pittsburgh (Saturday) … Noel likes his AAA line of Antti Miettinen, Aaron Gagnon and Alex Burmistrov, and plans to keep it together for the time being.