Jets-Blackhawks Preview

Andrew Ladd and Dustin Byfuglien couldn’t help the reincarnated

Winnipeg Jets win their highly anticipated debut.

The two players will again try to help their team get its first

victory Thursday night, when they play at the United Center for the

first time since helping the Chicago Blackhawks win the Stanley

Cup.

Despite losing 5-1 to Montreal on Sunday, the Jets received a

standing ovation from a sellout crowd at their new home, the MTS

Centre – a moment 15 years in the making. The original Jets moved

to Phoenix for the 1996-97 season before Winnipeg got a second

chance when the Atlanta Thrashers relocated there for this

season.

“To get a standing ovation when we lose, it just shows that

we’re going to have fans behind us regardless,” said center Mark

Scheifele, the seventh overall pick in this year’s draft.

All but four players who dressed Sunday were member of the

Thrashers in 2010-11, including Ladd and Byfuglien. The two were

acquired in separate trades with the Blackhawks before last season

and were the top scorers for a team that finished 12th in the

Eastern Conference.

“Right away, I was kind of disappointed. The more I look ahead,

it was obviously a good thing,” Byfuglien said of leaving Chicago.

“It’s always fun being part of a team that’s building.”

Byfuglien and Ladd were key members of the Blackhawks team that

won the Stanley Cup in 2010. Chicago’s defense of its title ended

with a seven-game defeat to Vancouver in the opening round.

The Blackhawks faced the Thrashers once last season, a 5-4

shootout win in Atlanta on Nov. 6.

“It’s going to be pretty cool to go back in there and see the

banner,” Ladd said of returning to the United Center. “It’ll be

good to see everyone, but it would be nice to get a win in there

too.”

Chicago (1-1-0) will be looking to build on a strong home debut.

After falling 2-1 at Dallas on Friday, the Blackhawks got two goals

from Dave Bolland the next night to finish the home-and-home series

with a 5-2 victory.

Chicago started 8-9-2 in 2010-11 before finishing with 97

points, two ahead of ninth-place Dallas in the West and 15 fewer

than it had during its first championship season in 49 years.

“It’s key, winning those games at the start,” Bolland said.

“When you don’t, last year we battled for a playoff spot. … We

want that early on in the season. We don’t want to battle for it at

the end.”

To avoid a similarly slow start, the Blackhawks may need their

power play to be better. They’re 1 for 11 with the man advantage

after going 1 for 7 on Saturday.

“The numbers aren’t where we would like them to be, but it’s

early,” center Patrick Sharp said. “We’re getting some good looks

and good chances, but we know going forward that it’s going to be

big for us.”

The Blackhawks are seeking a series-best fourth straight victory

over the Jets franchise and have won the past two games in

shootouts.

Winnipeg native Jonathan Toews had two goals and two assists in

last season’s win over the Thrashers, while Patrick Kane had two

goals and an assist. Kane has three goals and four assists in his

four all-time matchups.

The Jets were 0 for 7 on the power play Sunday.