Friday’s Central Division matchup presents two teams in very different states of mind in the Dallas Stars and Winnipeg Jets.
The Jets host the Stars one night after the Minnesota Wild obliterated them in the faceoff circle. Winnipeg bench boss Claude Noel didn’t sugarcoat the Jets’ inability to control the puck lately, as the Winnipeg Free Press reported on Thursday.
“We don’t start (with the puck) so we’re always checking, chasing it down,” Noel said. “Regardless of which end, we’re always checking.”
While the Jets might be a little bleary-eyed on a back-to-back that’s causing some soul-searching, the Stars may argue that they’re still searching for their identity.
Dallas hasn’t played a game since Oct. 5 and Friday marks the Stars’ first game against a Western Conference team in 2013-14.
If it wasn’t obvious enough that they’re seeking a strong start, this also begins a three-game tour of the Central Division as they go from Winnipeg tonight to Minnesota on Saturday and Colorado on Tuesday.
Defending Big D points out that Stars owner Tom Gaglardi could be in the building, too, so the Stars obviously want to make a good impression.
The Columbus Blue Jackets demoted defenseman Tim Erixon to the AHL on Friday, calling up forward Ryan Craig in the process. Team Web site reporter Rob Mixer believes that Craig was recalled in part because Matt Calvert might be injured.
Blue Jackets GM Jarmo Kekalainen told PHT’s Joe Yerdon that Erixon, 22, wasn’t convincing management that he was worthy of playing time by his work ethic in practice.
“If you’re not playing, you have to treat practice like your game,” Kekalainen said.
Kekalainen spun it a little differently to the Columbus Dispatch’s Aaron Portzline, telling him that Erixon “needs to play games.”
Erixon has 49 games of NHL action under his belt so far, including 31 with Columbus last season, so the Blue Jackets are likely hoping that this sends a message to the 2009 first-rounder (23rd overall).
Update: He made it on time and will play.
New York Islanders winger Matt Moulson is a game-time decision for Friday’s game against the Chicago Blackhawks with … the birth of his child.
He’s flying to Chicago today after the birth of his son. New York Newsday’s Arthur Staple reports that Brock Nelson will play if Moulson, 29, cannot make it in time.
Moulson is in the middle of a contract year, so 2013-14 is a big year in his life in many ways. Hopefully Moulson isn’t affected by the inevitable loss of sleep, as he could be primed for a big raise as John Tavares’ running mate (and a three-time 30+ goal scorer).