Two very different teams of late will battle at the MTS Centre on Friday. The Winnipeg Jets (15-16-5) look to find consistency with a little help from a home crowd, while the Florida Panthers (14-17-5) will try to make it six wins in a row.
The Jets are looking for their first home win in over a month, after a 3-game home stand last week left them with a lone point. The Jets have dropped 4 of their last 5 decisions, most recently, a 4-2 loss to the NHL-worst Buffalo Sabres. The Panthers are on a surprising hot streak, getting almost half of their wins of the whole year in a two-week span. The Panthers traveled to Eastern Canada on a four-game road trip that ends on Friday, beating the Ottawa Senators on Thursday, 4-2. The two former Southeast Division teams have played relatively even, with the Jets taking a 6-5-1 record all-time against the Panthers. They last faced each other on December 5th, where Florida won at home 5-2.
In the net for the Jets will be Al Montoya, after starter Ondrej Pavelec allowed four goals in his last two starts. Montoya has a .920% save percentage and a 2.23 GAA in 10 appearances for Winnipeg this season. Across the ice from him will be Florida back-up Scott Clemmensen, who has a .902% save percentage and a 2.60 GAA in 9 games. Clemmensen has won his last four starts.
The Jets could be without C James Wright, who is day-to-day fighting the flu. Matt Halischuk, Zach Bogosian, Paul Postma, and Jim Slater are still all on the Injured Reserve with no sign of an immediate return pending. The Panthers won’t see Jesse Winchester and Ed Jovanoski, who have been on IR for quite some time, as well as starting goaltender Tim Thomas, who was placed on the Injured Reserve with a lower-body injury.
The Jets haven’t won at home since November 15th, losing six straight games since then. The Jets’ power-play has been surprisingly hot of late, scoring 5 goals in their last 5 games, and the special-team needs to keep rolling against Florida’s second-last ranked penalty kill, at a lowly 74.3%. Al Montoya’s start in net tonight carries a little more weight, as the Chicago native could see his responsibilities increase with a good performance, after Pavelec began struggling in the last week. The Jets face another team they should beat, but things didn’t go as planned in the last time they were in that situation, losing to the Sabres on Tuesday.
The Jets are 7-8-4 at the MTS Centre this season, and hold a good record against their former Eastern Conference, at 9-4-1. The Panthers are 7-10-2 on the road this year, and 6-7-3 against the Western Conference this year.
You can watch Friday’s game on TSN Jets, or TSN 1290 radio. Non-regional viewers can see the game on Fox Sports Florida. The game gets underway at 7:00 PM Central Time.
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