Five Questions With Arctic Ice Hockey & GameDay Open Forum
The Panthers will try to curb their bleeding tonight in Sunrise against the 3-2-1 Jets. What does Florida have to watch out for? I had a chance to trade emails with Trevor Maughan of AIH; read on to find out Florida's keys to their thus-far elusive second win of the 2013 season.
Kevin Kraczkowski, Litter Box Cats: 1) Kris Versteeg has traditionally been a Jet killer. What has changed for Winnipeg this season that will help them contain him?
Trevor Maughan, Arctic Ice Hockey Unfortunately, not much has changed and if Versteeg can regain his legs after returning from injury, it could be a big night for him.
With Zach Bogosian still out of the line-up with a wrist injury, their best "shut down" defenseman is currently being detained in the press-box.
As the Panthers will have the last change in tonight's game, look for Kevin Dineen to try to expose the defensive pairing of Paul Postma and Grant Clitsome as often as he can.
The best way Winnipeg can try to keep Versteeg would be to stay out of the penalty box. With their kill currently operating at a putrid 68.8%, they will need to limit the changes they give Versteeg and the Cats this evening.
KK: 2) You've got four guys (including two defensemen) who are averaging better than a point per game this season. How many of the combination of Dustin Byfuglien, Evander Kane, Tobias Enstrom, and Blake Wheeler will be able to keep up the pace?
TM: Short answer: I find it doubtful that the Jets' will have any point per game players this year.
If Jack Skille doesn't murder Enstrom again, he will be around -- but ultimately short of -- a point per game player. Byfuglien's early success has come predominantly on the powerplay, so it's difficult to handicap where his season will finish, though he should remain one of Winnipeg's top scorers.
Hopes in Winnipeg are that Evander Kane has a monster year -- if only to silence the haters. So far, so good, and after a 30 goal campaign last year, there's a good chance he will be amongst the league leaders yet again.
Blake Wheeler is ultimately a product of his environment and will perform as those around him do. He had a whopping 47 assists last year, so he has a propensity to dish the puck.
KK: 3) Ondrej Pavelec - how's he working out for you?
TM: When he's not smashing cars, pretty good. He started off the season better than expected, playing a much better positional game which led to inflated SV% numbers.
Tuesday night, some of his old habits reared their ugly head -- especially his glove problems -- so we will see how he rebounds tonight in Florida.
One thing is for certain, the team will go as Pavelec goes. If they can get consistent goaltending while shoring up their PK woes, they'll be in good shape to contend around the playoff bubble.
KK: 4) Bogosian was a huge part of the Jets' blueline offensive success a season ago. Who has been picking up the slack?
TM: Ron Hainsey and Mark Stuart have both been asked to play increased minutes in Bogosian's absence and haven't missed a beat in doing so. While neither player displays a flashy game, they have done all the little things required to shut down the teams opposition night in and night out.
KK: 5) Play Devil's advocate for a moment - how can the Panthers beat Winnipeg tonight?
TM: Winning the special teams battle will go a long way in securing the Panthers second win of the season. The Jets took a season high five penalties on Tuesday in Montreal, two of which were capitalized on, aiding the Canadiens in defeating Winnipeg 4-3.
That and Winnipeg has been notoriously slow starters this year. In their past four games, they have conceded the first goal in each contest, and in the past three games they've found themselves in down by two scores at one point or another. It would behoove the Panthers to shoot early and often and try to get the Jets on their heels early.
A big round of thanks Trevor for his insight today; if you're curious as to how I responded to his own questions regarding this evening's main event, please check out Arctic Ice Hockey, SB Nation's home for the Winnipeg Jets. And don't forget to join us right here at 7 p.m. ET for the LBC Game Thread.