5 things to watch as Jets look to rally against Rangers
The Winnipeg Jets look to get back in the win column tonight when they take on the New York Rangers at the newly-renovated Madison Square Garden.
The Jets fell to the Philadelphia Flyers 2-1 Friday — the first loss in three games on the current season-high, six-game road trip.
Meanwhile, the Rangers are coming off a 5-2 win over the Vancouver Canucks Saturday, the first of 11 straight home games for New York.
A bite outta the Big Apple
The Jets (12-12-4) and Rangers (14-13-0) met three times during the 2013 lockout-shortened year. Winnipeg edged the Rangers two games to one in the season series, with two of those matches played in the Big Apple.
In those two matches in NY, four was the magic number. The Jets took the first game, 4-3, but fell short in an Apr. 1 match, dropping a 2-1 lead after the first period to lose the game 4-2.
Madison Square Garden has been a favourable place to play for the Jets/Thrashers organization. In 26 games at the historic arena, they’ve posted an overall record of 15-9-2.
It’s looking more and more like Evander Kane will be left out of the lineup come game time.
Kane injured himself during the first period of Friday’s game and didn’t return with what is being called a lower-body injury.
Kane was kept out of Saturday’s skate in Central Park and was absent again at practice Sunday. The Jets recalled John Albert from St. John’s Sunday, which suggests Kane will most likely be a scratch.
With No. 9 out, forward Anthony Peluso should get a shot to play. Peluso has seen action in just 10 games this year, registering a goal in a 3-2 loss to Nashville on Oct. 20.
But his injection into the lineup may just be what this team needs to get back in the win column. The 24-year-old not only brings toughness to the lineup but he may also be an offensive threat in disguise.
Peluso recorded two assists in five games last year and both of them came against the Rangers in New York.
Third line shine
If there was any positive taken out of the loss to Philly Friday, it was the continued success of rookie Mark Scheifele, Michael Frolik, and Matt Halischuk.
The Jets third line has provided valuable depth scoring of late, chipping in for goals in the last four games.
Scheifele extended his point streak to four games with an assist on the Jets lone goal against the Flyers, scored by Frolik who now has three in his last six games.
“I’m happy it’s like that but I think the key is not to get satisfied and just keep going and try to be better every game,” said Frolik.
“We try to communicate a lot and support each other so we need to keep doing those things to be better.”
He may just be the scariest guy in a New York jersey, despite standing only 5’ 11”, and weighing in at a modest 190 pounds.
Rangers' captain Ryan Callahan has haunted the Jets since their relocation from Atlanta. In seven games against Winnipeg, Callahan has put up six goals and five assists for 11 points and is a plus-6.
His six markers have all come in separate games, with two of them being game winners. The last time Callahan played the Jets he torched them for a goal and three assists in 4-2 win back on Apr. 13.
A familiar face
Jets management will get the chance to reacquaint with a familiar face tonight in Rangers head coach, Alain Vigneault.
Vigneault coached the Manitoba Moose for one season (2005-2006), posting a record of 44-24-0-12 in that year before taking the big job with NHL affiliate, Vancouver Canucks.
Vigneault, who spent seven years in Vancouver, making it to the post season in six of those years, benefited from a number of players developed through the Moose organization.
But after two first round exits following a 2011 run to the cup – losing to Boston in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals – he was let go.
Vigneault has faced the Jets just once since their revival, winning that game by a score of 3-2.
You can bet Mark Chipman and co. will be looking to even up the series against their old friend.
Prediction: 3-1 Rangers
The Rangers' 5-5-0 record at home is nothing to brag about but in four of those games, New York has allowed two or fewer goals.
The Jets have struggled of late to get goals, relying on their third line for offence. It doesn’t help that Kane is expected to be out.
Rangers take this one.