JGD 49: Jets Hope To Freeze Out The Desert Dogs

The normally friendly confines of the MTS Centre hasn’t been all that friendly to the Winnipeg Jets recently. A current 3-game losing streak at home has put the Jets in a precarious situation. Sitting 9 points out of the final playoff spot, the Jets either have to make a serious push or decide that this season is lost and start moving players out.

The Jets host the Arizona Coyotes, a team that is coming off a shootout victory over the Minnesota Wild last night. This is an opportunity for the Jets to take advantage of a tired team.

The teams split the first two meetings. The Jets won a thriller 3-2 back on November 21 at the MTS Centre. The Coyotes scored a 4-2 win on New Year’s Eve in Glendale.

Lineups:

Courtesy of Daily Faceoff

Winnipeg (21-24-3)

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Some good news on the injury front. Mark Scheifele will return to the lineup after missing the last seven games due to an unknown injury. Scheifele’s absence was felt by the team as the Jets have struggled offensively, scoring only 12 goals in the seven games Scheifele was out of the lineup. Do the math and that is less than 2 goals per game. 

The bad news on the injury front is that Mathieu Perreault will miss the game due to a lower-body injury. That does mean more line juggling for the coaching staff to figure out.

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There could be a change on the blueline. Paul Postma completed his conditioning stint with the Manitoba Moose and is ready to go.  If Postma does return to the lineup, who does he replace? The smart money would be on Ben Chiarot getting the seat in the press box. Mark Stuart should be a candidate but management likes him too much, even though he’s bad at hockey.

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There’s no drama here. Connor Hellebuyck will get the start once again. It’s becoming clear that the Jets have lost faith in Michael Hutchinson. This will be Hellebuyck’s 10th straight start.

Arizona (24-19-5)

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A pair of dynamic rookies lead the Coyotes attack. Max Domi and Anthony Duclair are both enjoying excellent freshman campaigns. Domi is third in scoring for the Coyotes with 32 points (13G, 19A) in 47 games. Duclair has 24 points (12G, 12A) in 46 games. 

Mikkel Boedker leads the Coyotes with 34 points (12G, 22A) and is an underrated star in this league.

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There may not be a more underrated player in the NHL than Oliver Ekman-Larsson. The Swedish defenceman is fourth in the NHL in scoring amongst rearguards with 34 points (14G, 20A) in 47 games. Ekman-Larsson would have represented the Coyotes in the All-Star game but the fans wanted to see John Scott instead. (An argument for another day.)

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Expect Anders Lindback to get the start between the pipes for the Coyotes. Louis Domingue played last night in St Paul and while he has posted better numbers, history has shown that goalies fare poorly for the most part in the second game of the back-to-back. The Coyotes usual number one goalie, Mike Smith, is still on IR, recovering from sports hernia surgery.

Predictions:

Game Day Prediction: The Coyotes could be spent after a tough game in Minnesota. The Jets are due for a win. A loss would be beneficial in the Auston Matthews sweepstakes but the Jets prevail 3-1.

Obvious Prediction: There will be many references to the 1.0 version of the Jets with the Coyotes in town. Expect someone on Twitter to say bring back Kurt Keilback. (Former Jets and Coyotes play-by-play man.)

Not So Obvious Prediction: The Jets scored a rare power play goal Saturday night against New Jersey and it says here they’ll get another one with the man advantage.