With the All-Star break coming up very quickly, the Winnipeg Jets would like to head into the break on a high note.
However, high notes have been few and far between as of late. The Jets had a good opportunity to start regaining some ground in the Central Division Monday night against the Colorado Avalanche, but ultimately fell short in a gutsy 2-1 loss.
They Jets have another chance tonight though, when they take on the Nashville Predators for the second time in a week and third time in 16 days.
This will be the fourth meeting between the two Central Division rivals. Their last meeting came just seven days ago, where the Jets ultimately won 5-4 in overtime. The Jets held a 4-1 lead early in the third, but surrendered three unanswered goals by the Predators to send the game into overtime. The tying goal came with just 14 seconds remaining at the hands of James Neal. Luckily for the Jets, Blake Wheeler netted the winner just 51 seconds into overtime.
The Jets were also victorious over the Predators in a 4-1 win on January 5th in Nashville, but fell to Predators in their first meeting back on November 15th by a ridiculous 7-0 score, also in Nashville.
If the Jets hope to make the playoffs this season, they need to start putting some points in the bank right now. They sit dead last in the Central Division with 46 points and sit 5 points out of the final wild card spot, currently held by the Colorado Avalanche.
They have three games remaining before the All-Star break. Gaining all six of these points would put them right back in the heart of the playoff race.
Courtesy of Daily Faceoff.
Winnipeg Jets (21-22-3)
The Jets are getting hit with the injury bug at the worst time. In addition to Mark Scheifele, the Jets will now be without Drew Stafford (upper body) and Adam Lowry (upper body). Filling the empty slots in the lineup will be Anthony Peluso and J.C. Lipon.
Alex Burmistrov is also banged up, but is expected to play tonight.
Drew Stafford will be missed against the Predators, as he two goals in three games against the Predators this season.
Andrew Ladd leads the Jets with 4 points (4 assists) against the Predators this season.
Luckily for the Jets, the defense remains a healthy unit. Unlucky for the Jets, that means that Mark Stuart is still a thing.
Dustin Byfuglien also has two goals in three games against the Predators. He is tied with Ben Chiarot (1 goal, 1 assist) and Tyler Myers (2 assists) for most points among defensemen against the Predators this season.
Connor Hellebuyck will get the start again tonight. Hellebuyck has started the last two games against the Predators, winning them both while posting a 2.48 GAA and a .937 save percentage.
Nashville Predators (20-18-8)
Gabriel Bourque and Colin Wilson remain out for the Predators.
James Neal leads all Predators forwards with four points (2 goals, 2 assists) in three games against the Jets.
Craig Smith has three points (1 goal, 2 assists) in three games against the Jets. Newest Predator Ryan Johansen scored a goal and two assists in the 5-4 overtime loss to the Jets last week.
Ryan Ellis leads all Predators defensemen with three points (3 assists) in three games against the Jets.
Mattias Ekholm (1 goal, 1 assist) and Roman Josi (2 assists) have two points each against the Jets this season.
It is not yet confirmed, but Pekke Rinne is expected to start tonight.
Rinne has started all three games against the Jets this season. He has gone 1-1-1 with a 2.74 GAA and a .896 save percentage.
Game Day Prediction: Predators have been struggling lately and Jets have had their number as of late. Jets know they have to treat this game as a ‘must win.’ Jets win 4-2.
Obvious Prediction: Jets will be without two of their starting centers tonight. Face-offs will be a struggle.
Not so Obvious Prediction: The Jets newly formed second line of Armia-Perreault-Ehlers will be the Jets most productive line tonight.