Winnipeg Jets 3-6-1 (7 pts.) vs. Florida Panthers 6-4-0 (12pts.)
Opposition Site: Hockey At The Forks (We have a writer position open there!)
Gameday preview from the Panther website
Atlanta Thrashers Winnipeg Jets make their first of three visits to the Bank Atlantic Center this year tonight dressed as the Winnipeg Jets. Last season these two teams met six times and each game was decided by one goal, and I wouldn’t be surprised if we saw more of the same tonight. The Florida Panthers are coming off a successful road trip picking up 4 of 6 points, that included a rebound performance Saturday evening beating Buffalo 3-2. That game followed a back breaking loss to the Ottawa Senators on Thursday. If there’s one thing that we are seeing this year that we aren’t used to is the Panthers ability to bounce back, not only in games, but after games as well. Kevin Dineen spoke about his team’s performance:
“We talked a lot about all this new personnel we have, and you can do all the team bonding stuff you want, (but) it’s games like that that make a difference for you,” coach Kevin Dineen said about Saturday’s win. “So it turns into a good road trip, could have been a great road trip but you’ve gotta like the bounce-back game.”
Tomas Fleischmann and Jason Garrison scored within four minutes of each other to give the Panthers their 6th victory in 10 games, with Garrison ripping a slap shot past Sabres goaltender Ryan Miller. It was Garrison’s 5th goal of the young season. The game also marked the return in goal of veteran Jose Theodore who was very solid stopping 24 shots and keeping the Sabres at bay late in the game. What I’m liking about Theodore is the composure he’s showing during the games, his positioning and his ability to control rebounds that usually end up in the corners, or to a defenceman that’s able to clear them away. Goaltending has been a strength for Florida this year, where many felt it could be the weakest link. Jose Theodore will start his second consecutive game tonight for Florida. His career record against the Thrashers is a sparkling 14-5-0 with a 2.63 GAA.
We have been concerned about secondary scoring, but with Tomas Kopecky assisting on all three goals Saturday night, and Marcel Goc getting his second goal of the season, you get the feeling that things will be turning around very soon. The top line of Weiss, Flash and Versteeg has been excellent, but if they’re shut down, the other forwards need to contribute more consistently. Also, with coach Dineen working on the basics again in practice before Saturday’s game, the Panthers got back to their puck possession style that he wants them to play. There were a few moments where the “cuteness” showed up in the Buffalo game, but for most of the 60 minute contest it was a grind it out game. The physical element picked up slightly, but I still feel that at times we aren’t seeing enough. Continue to be tough to play against and continue to fore-check aggressively and getting 6 wins out of every 10 games will be very doable.
Sean Bergenheim and Scott Clemmensen remain out of the lineup, but each player did participate in practice this morning and are potentially a week away from returning. Clemmensen is likely to spend some time in San Antonio for a rehab stint. He’s able to go there for two weeks without having to clear waivers, but once that’s completed and depending on how Jacob Markstrom is doing, the Panthers will have a decision to make. As for Bergenheim, when he returns, players like Shawn Matthias and Tim Kennedy will be looked at as the “odd ” man out. Newcomer Mikael Samuelsson remains out of the lineup as he continues to rehab from complications of his off season surgery.
The Jets come to town with a 1-4-1 record on the road and are fresh off a 1-0 shutout loss to Tampa Saturday, which was preceded by the 9-8 slugfest against the Philadelphia Flyers, which they won on Thursday. This is the third of a seven game road trip for Winnipeg, who figures to travel more than any other team in the NHL this season. The Jets are lead by their captain Andrew Ladd who is off to a slow start point wise with only three goals to show in his first 10 games. The actual goal leader for Winnipeg is Jim Slater (who?) with four. Former Toronto Maple Leaf Nik Antropov and youngster Alexander Burmistrov are the point leaders, as each has 9. Burmistrov is hot with 8 points in his last 7 games. Blake Wheeler who has not scored this season led the Thrashers in scoring against Florida last year with three goals.
Looking up and down the Jets roster, they seem to resemble some Panther teams of the past as they don’t have that prolific goal scorer, and haven’t since the days of Ilya Kovalchuk. They rely very heavily on goaltender Ondrej Pavelec who is their workhorse netminder. His record lifetime against Florida is 4-1-0 with a 2.04 GAA, and is 3-0-0 at the Bank Atlantic Center. Pavelec let in 7 goals in the Philadelphia game on 43 shots and was pulled in favor of backup Chris Mason, however had to come back in after Mason had to leave with a groin injury. In the Tampa game, Pavelec gave up one goal on 27 shots.
* The TSN Gameday numbers.
* Referees: Tom Kowal #32 & Francois St. Laurent #38.
* Marcel Goc will play in his 400th career NHL game tonight.
* Marco Sturm will play in his 900th NHL game tonight, the most of any German born player.
* Dmitry Kulikov needs two points for 50 in his young career.
* Overall the Panthers trail the series 26-28-5-9. Last year Atlanta held the edge 4-1-1.
* The Jets have lost 41 man games to injury thus far.
* This will be the fourth time the Jets have played on Halloween night. Their record is 1-2-1.
* In games following a shut out loss the Jets are 21-31-7.
* Big Buff leads the Jets in shots on goal with 38, and leads all defencemen in the NHL in that category.
* Tanner Glass played 44 games for Florida over a two year span. 1g-4a with 46 Pims.
* Kendall McArdle a former first round pick of the Panthers appeared in 33 games for Florida with 1g-2a and 47 Pims.
* Craig Ramsey was the head coach for Atlanta (Winnipeg) last season. The team finished fourth in the S.E. Division with a 34-36-0-12 record.
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