It’s been a rocky week for the Winnipeg Jets as a pair of losses to Central division rivals over the last seven days along with reports of contract negotiations, possible ownership interference, a notable demotion to the AHL followed by a pair of call ups have only heightened the angst and feelings of panic with Jets fans.
But as the saying goes, “winning cures everything” and a Jets win over the New York Rangers tonight would help ease tensions for at least the weekend.
Well ok, maybe only the night.
Fine, for only two minutes after the final whistle and then we go back to freaking out about Andrew Ladd’s next contract.
The New York Rangers by the way aren’t having an easy go of things themselves lately. They lost last night 5-2 against the Minnesota Wild, they are 2-4-2 so far this month, are playing their third game in four nights tonight and this is essentially their sixth game in a six game road trip (they did play at home to the Oilers on Tuesday but that was between a three game spin out to Western Canada and this current two game back to back spell) and have lost 3 of their last four games.
When a team is struggling, no stone in an effort to get better is left unturned.
The Rangers do feature special teams that ranks in the top 10 in both power play and penalty kill however, and given the Jets history this season that could spell trouble for the home team.
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Winnipeg (14-15-2 : 7th in Central)
The Perreault / Scheifele / Stafford line has been on fire the last couple of weeks, but the other lines have been varying degrees of “meh” to outright “useless”. Matt Halischuk and Joel Armia were called up Thursday, but expect Halischuk to draw in to the 4th line as Armia yet again sits in the press box for whatever reason.
The good news is the new pairing of Trouba / Byfuglien (Henceforth known as “TruBuff”) was great and Trouba had arguably his best game of the season on Tuesday. The sad news (and sad is a bit of an understatement) is it left us with a pairing of Stuart and Chariot who not only were given the most defensive zone starts and most ice time of any of the pairings, but also (and rather predictably) posted the worst Corsi and Fenwick numbers on the team that night.
Hellebuyck had the worst game of his very young NHL career against the Blues, and though you could hardly fault him for any of the four goals against, he probably would have liked another chance at a couple of the goals that beat him. Expect Paul Maurice to go back to the kid to see what he has in him after a less than ideal start the last game.
NY Rangers (19-10-4 : 2nd in Metropolitan)
That first line for the Rangers is all kinds of deadly as Zuccarello, Brassard and Nash are 1-2-3 in team scoring. Oscar Lindberg has been a pleasant surprise in his rookie season chipping in 10 goals and 17 points. The Rangers feature a nice balance of scoring depth as 6 other players have 5 or more goals on the season.
The Rangers rank 9th in the NHL in fewest goals against with 77, but their defense has been hobbled a bit by injury as Dan Girardi and Kevin Klein are not out west with the team. Dylan McIlrath scored his first NHL goal on Tuesday and Brady Skjei (pronounced “shea”) has had a pair of solid efforts in his first two games.
Antti Rannta had the start last night in Minny, but left the game halfway through the first period after taking a particularly hard shot off the head. Lundqvist came on in relief and had a rough night posting an .871 save percentage. King Henrik will likely get the start tonight.
Game Day Prediction: It’s not like the Jets have been overly bad this recent stretch, in fact 5 v 5 play has been a strong point. Lets hope the extra special teams practice kicks in right away. Jets win 5-3.
Obvious Prediction: 85-55-12 get the Jets on the scoreboard more than once.
Not So Obvious Prediction: The power play is due for a good night isn’t it? Sure it is! Positive thoughts… Let’s say the Jets get a couple of power play goals tonight.