After a five-day break due to
the NHL All-Star Game, the Jets return to the ice and hope to continue their
strong play in the past few weeks and wrap up the month of January on a
Winnipeg (26-14-8) holds a
commanding lead of the first wildcard spot in the Western Conference, but still
sit fourth in the Central Division with 60 points. The Jets currently sit two
points back of Chicago and St. Louis. Winnipeg was riding a five-game winning
streak heading into the All-Star break, and had out scored their opponents 22-8
in that span.
Pittsburgh (26-12-8) went into
the All-Star break on a four-game losing streak and will be looking to right
the ship to keep pace with the New York Islanders who lead the Metropolitan
Division with 63 points.
This will be the final regular
season matchup between Winnipeg and the Pens this season. The Jets hosted
Pittsburgh back on Nov. 6, where the Pens went on to win the thrilling game in
Lines provided by Daily Faceoff
Mathieu Perreault draws back
into the lineup tonight after missing the past two games with an upper-body
injury. He will return to Winnipeg’s second line, where he was enjoying his
best time as a Jet before his injury.
Perreault’s line mates, Mark
Scheifele and Michael Frolik each had been quieted during Perreault’s absence,
Scheifele had two assists and Frolik had a goal in the two-game span.
Despite Perreault missing the
past two games, the Jets had scored four goals in three straight games, two
without Perreault in the lineup. Can they continue that trend against the Pens?
Pavalec gets the start after the All-Star break, which comes at
a bit of a surprise to me, but I’m not going to question head coach Paul
Maurice’s decision. It’s not like Pavelec has been in a rough patch. He’s given
up 12 goals in four games this month, but one of those games was the 5-4
shootout loss in Anaheim.
Just as the Jets defence seemed to be back at 100%, Mark Stuart
was placed on injured reserve again. Coach Maurice was quoted as saying, “Nothing’s
changed with (Stuart) and his injury – it just didn’t get better as quickly as
we would have liked.” With Stuart out of the lineup, Trouba will play with Jay
Harrison for a second straight game.
The Penguins will be without their two star centremen, Evgeni
Malkin and Sidney Crosby, who were both injured before the NHL All-Star Game.
Crosby isn’t expected to miss a lot of time, but Malkin may have a longer
This is sort of a good news/bad news situation for the Jets in
my opinion because when the teams met back in February, the Jets managed to
hold Crosby and Malkin pointless in regulation, (Crosby and Malkin both scored
in the shootout).
But that means that guys that did perform well against the Jets
in that game Brandon Sutter (1g, 2a) and Steve Downie (1g, 1a) will be getting
more ice-time tonight.
Marc-Andre Fleury gets the start tonight between the pipes for
the Pens, and the Jets should be worried about that. Fleury is having one of
his best seasons in recent years, he leads the league in shutouts with 6, is
tied for eighth in wins with 22 and has a 2.31 GAA and a .921 save percentage.
Kris Letang will be a game time decision for Pittsburgh, but is
currently penciled in to play on Pittsburgh’s top pairing with Paul Martin.
Game Day Prediction: Jets continue their successful January and benefit from the
absences of Crosby and Malkin. Jets win 4-2.
Obvious Prediction: Mathieu Perrault picks up right where he left off and leads
his line in goals with a pair, helping spark Frolik and Scheifele’s lull.
Not So Obvious
Prediction: The colour-commentator will comment
on Crosby and Malkin’s injuries at least twice a period.