It’s always fun when an Original Six franchise pays a visit to the Manitoba capital. Especially when they only come once a year. The Detroit Red Wings will make their only stop to the MTS Centre on Tuesday to face the Winnipeg Jets.
The Jets aren’t interested in fun or good times at this moment. The local heroes currently sit in last place in the ultra-tough Central Division, six points out of the playoffs. Every game is vital from here on out and the Jets need to take advantage of a tired Red Wings team that lost 3-1 in Minnesota last night.
Lineups courtesy of dailyfaceoff.com
Winnipeg Jets (16-17-2)
With no Mark Scheifele in the lineup, head coach Paul Maurice will have to continue to juggle his lines as he sees fit. The trio of Drew Stafford, Blake Wheeler and Bryan Little were excellent on Sunday night against Pittsburgh, with Little and Wheeler in particular shining brightly.
One possibility is Chris Thorburn and Alexander Burmistrov switching spots. A line of Burmistrov, Mathieu Perrault and Nikolaj Ehlers has tremendous potential.
The pairing of Jacob Trouba and Dustin Byfuglien were excellent on Sunday and they should see the most ice time against Detroit.
The third pairing of Mark Stuart and Ben Chiarot may (will) struggle against the speed of the Wings. Adam Pardy is a possibility to draw into the lineup but the guess here is that Maurice won’t mess with a lineup that blanked Pittsburgh on Sunday.
Breaking news. Connor Hellebuyck might have a future as an NHL goalie. (DUH!) The rookie netminder was brilliant on Sunday stopping all 30 shots in blanking the Penguins. While a second straight shutout will be difficult, Hellebuyck has the potential to pull it off.
Detroit Red Wings (18-11-7)
While this isn’t the same Red Wings team that dominated the NHL in the late 1990s and most of the 2000s, this is still a formidable group. The top line of Henrik Zetterberg, Dylan Larkin and Justin Abdelkader have speed and creativity to burn. The second line of Pavel Datsyuk, Darren Helm and Brad Richards are an experienced trio who haven’t posted big numbers, but are poised for a breakout game.
If there’s a defence pairing the Jets might be able to take advantage of, it could be the pairing of Niklas Kronwall and Dan DeKeyser. DeKeyser in particular is vulnerable as his 46.1% corsi and 45.74% fenwick suggests. My suggestion would be to have the Wheeler/Little/Stafford trio to matchup against Kronwall and DeKeyser as much as possible. The Jets do have last change so this could be exploited.
Expect Jimmy Howard to get the call between the pipes as Petr Mrazek played last night in Minnesota. Both goalies have been excellent for Detroit. Howard has a .916 save percentage while Mrazek is posting an excellent .925 save percentage. The Red Wings aren’t concerned with their last line of defence.
Obvious Prediction: The pairing of Trouba and Byfuglien will be wonderful while the Stuart/Chiarot pairing will give Jet fans plenty of heart attacks and headaches.
Not So Obvious Prediction: Call it a hunch but Ehlers breaks out of his 11 game scoring drought by lighting the lamp on Tuesday. He’s due and has too much skill to remain off the scoresheet.
Game Prediction: The Red Wings will be a tired bunch as they will fly in after a game in Minnesota. The Jets take advantage and post a 3-1 victory. We can only hope.