(SportsNetwork.com) - The Winnipeg Jets have had enough problems to deal with on the ice lately, but there is another drama unfolding away from the rink as well.
The Jets hope to push through the adversity on Friday when they attempt to halt a five-game skid in a home clash against the Chicago Blackhawks.
In addition to posting an 0-4-1 record over the last five games, Paul Maurice's club is reportedly dealing with some behind the scenes tension involving forward Evander Kane.
Kane was not in the lineup for Tuesday's game in Vancouver. Initial reports suggested that the 23-year-old winger was dealing with an injury, but that is only part of the story that has emerged in the days since Kane was scratched from the lineup.
The Winnipeg Free Press first reported that Maurice pulled Kane out of the lineup for Tuesday after the player failed to follow team dress code rules and showed up for a team meeting wearing sweats instead of a suit. However, a later report by Sportsnet said Kane had a run-in with teammates in which his sweat suit was thrown into the shower by defenseman Dustin Byfuglien. Kane then reportedly left the team and attempts to reach him were unsuccessful until he answered his phone around an hour before the game to say he wouldn't be playing against the Canucks.
Although Kane was on the charter flight back to Winnipeg he did not participate in practice on Thursday and will not play tonight after getting placed on injured reserve later in the day. The nature of his injury was not disclosed by the club, but Maurice said Kane missed practice on Thursday to meet with doctors.
Kane, who signed a six-year, $30 million deal with the Jets prior to the 2012-13 season, has 10 goals and 12 assists in 37 games this season, a far cry from his NHL high point of 30 goals and 57 points in 2011-12.
Further reports came out Thursday morning suggested that the Jets are attempting to trade Kane although Maurice tried to pour cold water on that notion yesterday.
"Evander Kane's a Winnipeg Jet," said Maurice "He's one of us, and we'll take care of it."
The locker room friction could come at a bad time for Winnipeg, which is engaged in a heated battle for a playoff spot in the Western Conference. The Jets currently hold the first wild card spot and are two points ahead of the Vancouver Canucks. Winnipeg also trails Chicago by three points for the third and final automatic berth in the Central Division.
Winnipeg is off to a 3-0 start in the five-game season series against the Blackhawks, who have lost their last four meetings against the Jets. However, Chicago has claimed five straight on the road in this series.
Sans Kane, the Jets suffered a 3-2 overtime loss against the Canucks. Luca Sbisa scored the winner 36 seconds into OT to deliver the win for the home team.
Bryan Little had a goal and an assist and Blake Wheeler also scored for the Jets. Ondrej Pavelec turned aside 30 shots in the loss.
As far as we know, the Blackhawks aren't dealing with off-ice issues similar to the Jets but the club has lost two straight and three of its last four games.
Chicago also has failed to score a goal in each of its last two games, losing a 2-0 decision Saturday in San Jose before falling 3-0 Tuesday at Minnesota. The Blackhawks are 2-3-0 on a seven-game road trip that ends Sunday in St. Louis.
Devan Dubnyk turned away 24 shots to shut out Chicago on Tuesday. Corey Crawford, meanwhile, allowed all three goals on 43 shots for the Blackhawks.
"We've had a couple of tough games and this is one of them," said Chicago head coach Joel Quenneville. "The few times we were able to get rushed they'd take the puck away from us and go the other way."
The Blackhawks enter tonight with a goalless drought of 126 minutes, 35 seconds. The club's last goal came off the stick of Patrick Kane, who scored late in the third period of Chicago's 4-1 win over Anaheim last Friday.
Tonight's test marks the start of a three-game homestand for the Jets, who are 12-10-3 as the host this season.
Crawford will get the call tonight and owns a 3-4-0 record and 2.25 goals against average in his career against Winnipeg.
Pavelec is 0-3-2 with a 4.61 GAA in five lifetime outings versus the Blackhawks, while fellow Jets goaltender Michael Hutchinson is 3-0 with a 1.00 GAA in this matchup.