Chara - Boychuk Seidenberg - Hamilton Ference - McQuaid
Both teams enter the evening looking to halt a two game skid, though the stakes are more dire for Winnipeg, who has fallen into a Conference-basement tie with woeful Washington. With their vaunted home record of last year regressing to match their road record, the Jets are off to a weak start among their dreadful division. Looks like the magic of having a packed minor league building full of ravening fans is wearing off.
Recent attempts by the Jets front office to shake up the roster have proven head-scratchers, moving has-been Alexei Ponikarovsky to New Jersey and acquiring never-was Eric Tangradi from Pittsburgh in what is surely a step backward in offensive potential. Further hurting the team's firepower, injuries have struck the blueline leaving them without their point-per-game defenseman Tobias Enstrom (wait, what!?), injured in Friday's loss to the Penguins. The above projected D units are some guesswork, with a little help from behindthenet.ca and leftwinglock.com, but I'd anticipate Hainsey moving up and Clitsome being inserted into the lineup (EDIT: Wrongo. Updated above with input from TJ Maughan at Arctic Ice Hockey)
The last meeting of the two clubs saw no post undented, with the Bruins finally getting a favorable clank on Rask's end to prevail in the shootout. The game's Fenwick timeline, charting the shots for both clubs over the course of the game, shows a bout as close as the score. Winnipeg has remained no slouch from a possession standpoint, staying solidly middle of the pack in Fenwick Close despite their losing record. That said, the team-wide glimpse is a bit skewed, as defensive forwards like Wellwood are compensating for the deficiencies of the more offensively talented players like Wheeler and Enstrom, who are giving possession away like its going out of style.
It's a good thing the Jets are rocking a pretty dismal looking bottom six, with a third line offering nothing but checking, because tonight we don't look much better. With Lucic out of the lineup for "personal reasons*," our depth is being tested. Peverley returns to his fill-in duties on the first line, leaving Paille to slide up to the third unit with Kelly and Bourque, a trio now devoid of scoring ability. On the fourth line, Jay Pandolfo will be guest starring, hopefully not to become a recurring role. Take a quick gander at his glorious stat-line last year with the Islanders... I give it til maybe the second period before he becomes know as Jay Pandawful to Bruins faithful. Fortunately, we're facing a goalie with an .890 SV%, so maybe we'll get some depth scoring after all.
In honor of Hockey Day in America, and since the only Americans in our lineup are Bourque and Pandolfo, lets pay tribute to a real American hero:
Up next a supercut of Wheeler offside, cut to Yakety Sax...