By Scott Billeck – @scottbilleck
Andrew Ladd and his Winnipeg Jets (5-7-2) will take on the defending Stanley Cup Champion Chicago Blackhawks (8-2-3) Saturday afternoon at the MTS Centre. Ladd knows that it will be a challenge for his team but is confident the Jets have what it takes to beat a top team like the Blackhawks.
“Any time you get to play against the defending Stanley Cup Champions it is a great challenge for us,” said Ladd. “We will see what we are all about in this room.”
The “room” that Ladd refers too is the same room that picked up just three points in four games on their first road trip of the season. Ladd knows they have to do better, both home and away, but saw that his team was able to stick with some of the best teams the league has to offer.
“We have played some good hockey lately and we know we can play with those teams so it is an exciting challenge for us,” Ladd said.
Containing Winnipegger Jonathan Toews and the rest of the Blackhawks offence will be one of the keys to defeating the Blackhawks on Saturday. Ladd, who won a Stanley Cup in 2010 with the Blackhawks, understands the threat.
“Their transition game is really fast, they have a lot of D that can move the puck and get up the ice so I think that is where really it all starts with them,” Ladd said. “You got to be good with the puck, get the puck behind them and make them come the full 200-feet. I think that is the best way to play against them.”
Dustin Byfuglien, who won a Cup on the same team as Ladd in 2010, echoed his captain’s statements.
“They are a good team, they work hard, they don’t quit and they have a lot of offence,” said Byfuglien. “It is going to be like any other night. It’s going to be a hard challenge for us and we have to be ready to answer the bell.”
Jets head coach Claude Noel sees this game as a good test for his team in this young season.
“Their offence for me, they are a dangerous team,” said Noel. “They play fast, they’re skilled, they execute plays and they can hurt you offensively. That will test your defence, it will test your defensive play. You have to be good, you have to be ready.
Game time is 2 p.m. at the MTS Centre, a game that will be a part of Hockey Night in Canada.