By Scott Billeck – @scottbilleck
Claude Noel will shuffle his lines Sunday night in an effort to get something going offensively as the struggling Winnipeg Jets (2-3-0) take on the equally-struggling New Jersey Devils (0-2-3) at the MTS Centre.
The Jets are coming off back-to-back-to-back losses to the Anaheim Ducks, Minnesota Wild and Dallas Stars and are in need of a win to steady the ship. Change is in the air with the Jets coaching staff having chosen to shake up the lines to try and light a fire under the players’ backsides.
“We are just trying to get some things started as far as our team play goes,” said Noel. “I think we have to play better in a general sense. Do the lines do that because of the changes? We will see.”
Noel said that the power-play unit will be the same, having seen some success so far. The defensive pairings, meanwhile, will be a game time decision.
The players themselves see the changes as a good thing for the team, a team that is in need of a spark.
“I think you usually shake up the lines to get some offence going, to get some energy out on the ice,” said Jets centre Bryan Little. “Right now, we are struggling with chemistry and struggling with putting up some offence so it could help out a lot and bring some energy to the game.”
Little said that while each player on his line has been playing well, individually, playing just as well as a unit simply hasn’t been happening.
“We’ve all put up a goal…but as a line we aren’t really finding chemistry right now and we are off to a slow start,” Little said. “I can see why they want to shake things up to kind of get everyone going again.”
Evander Kane will move up with Little and Wheeler while Jets captain Andrew Ladd will move to the second unit with Scheifele and Michael Frolik.
Ladd feels the move is necessary to move the team forward.
“I think when things aren’t going well you are trying to find ways to spark the team and that is one way to do it,” said Ladd. “We will try that tonight and hopefully we can find some energy or chemistry or whatever to go in the right direction.”
Ladd feels a good start is key, especially after some poor ones to start the season.
“Our starts haven’t been very good so we are looking to get off to a lot better start,” Ladd said. “Putting ourselves behind the eight ball right away doesn’t give you a great formula for winning hockey games so we will try and get out to a good start and play a little more in their end and get a lead early.”
Meanwhile, the New Jersey Devils are looking for their first win of the season after dropping five straight contests to start the year.
“We obviously got to go out there and earn it,” said Devils head coach Peter DeBoer. “They are a desperate team so it is not going to be easy but I think our guys are ready.”
Former Manitoba Moose goalie and current New Jersey Devil, Cory Schneider, will get the start in goal tonight and Schneider believes his team needs to play a full 60 minutes to get the win.
“We are playing 40 or 50 minutes a night, we really need to put a full 60 minutes together,” Schneider said. “We are close, but that isn’t good enough right now. We just need to find a way to close out that when we are tied or winning late.”
The puck drops tonight at 7 p.m.
Jets Line-up for tonight:
Kane – Little – Wheeler
Ladd – Scheifele – Frolik
Tangradi – Jokinen – Setoguchi
Wright – Slater – Halischuk
Enstrom – Byfuglien
Bogosian – Trouba
Stuart – Postma
Healthy scratches: Peluso, Clitsome