NHL Preview from The Sports Network|
Saturday, January 11th
(All times Eastern)
Columbus Blue Jackets (20-20-4) at Winnipeg Jets (19-22-5), 7 p.m.
(SportsNetwork.com) - Going four straight games without a point will usually
lead to some changes in the lineup and for the Winnipeg Jets, it could mean
moving a big body into the mix up front.
Dustin Byfuglien could shift from the blue line to a forward position on
Saturday night when the Jets play host to the Columbus Blue Jackets.
The Jets have lost four straight in regulation for the first time this season
and it marks the second time in 2013-14 that the club has gone winless in four
consecutive outings. They also went 0-2-2 from Nov. 17-23.
Following a winless three-game road trip to begin the month, the Jets returned
home and were handed a 4-2 loss on Tuesday by the Tampa Bay Lightning, who
scored twice in the third period.
Byfuglien had a goal and an assist, Olli Jokinen supplied Winnipeg's other
goal and Ondrej Pavelec allowed three goals on 32 shots.
"This game was a very poorly played, poorly executed game. I don't know that
we got anything out of that that was positive. It was really disappointing,"
said Jets coach Claude Noel.
Given those words and the time off between games, it is no surprise that Noel
has done some tinkering. That includes Byfuglien practicing at the forward
spot, where he has had success before.
Though a short stint as a winger last season with the Jets didn't stick, the
28-year-old Byfuglien did notch 11 goals and 16 points in 22 games as a
forward in the playoffs for the Chicago Blackhawks in 2010, helping the team
win a Stanley Cup.
Andrew Ladd, who won a Cup with Byfuglien in Chicago and could skate on a line
with the 265-pounder and Bryan Little tonight, said Byfuglien seemed excited
at the spot in practice on Friday.
"I'm very familiar with the things he can do at forward. He's obviously a big
strong body who can get to the net and control the puck down low and makes it
hard on other teams," said Ladd.
Winnipeg did recall defenseman Zach Redmond from the American Hockey League,
while forward Evander Kane could miss tonight due to a hand injury.
If Byfuglien does stay at forward, he'll try to help the Jets offense solve a
Blue Jackets team that is coming off last night's 3-0 win over the Carolina
In his second start since missing 14 straight games with a groin injury,
Sergei Bobrovsky made 36 saves in his second shutout of the season and sixth
of his career.
Bobrovsky, the reigning Vezina Trophy winner, made 13 saves in the third
period, including two big stops during a 5-on-3 shorthanded situation.
"Our goaltender energized the building in the third period with some of his
saves," Columbus coach Todd Richards said. "That is a little reminiscent of
Cam Atkinson had a goal and an assist for the Blue Jackets, who have won three
of four and six of their last nine. Brandon Dubinsky and Boone Jenner also lit
Center Derek MacKenzie sat out the third and final game of his suspension for
a boarding hit versus Phoenix on Jan. 2.
The Blue Jackets had won six straight over the Jets franchise before a 3-2
home loss to Winnipeg on Dec. 16. Kane had the go-ahead goal for the Jets and
Al Montoya made 22 saves.
Pavelec could get the start tonight and has lost all four of his previous
starts versus the Blue Jackets with a 2.29 goals against average.
Bobrovsky is 1-2-1 with a 4.10 GAA in five career meetings with the Jets,
while backup Curtis McElhinney has never faced them.
Columbus is making its first trip to Winnipeg since the Jets relocated from
Atlanta, where the Blue Jackets had won three straight in the series.
01/11 10:29:45 ET