The 2015-16 Winnipeg Jets season has been one long sad story. In fact this season is more depressing than listening to Creep by Radiohead on a 6-hour loop. The anguish continues Thursday night as the Jets travel to Motown, to face the Detroit Red Wings, who are desperately trying to extend a streak of making the playoffs to 26 consecutive seasons, the longest in the “Big 4” of North American sports.
These two teams met back on December 29 at the MTS Centre, with the Jets emerging with a surprising 4-1 victory. Surprising because the Jets haven’t won much lately, as they are 6-12-2 in their last 20 games. Cue the sad trombone.
Don’t expect too many changes as the Jets are rather limited due to injuries. The team is still waiting for Marko Dano to make an impact. Through six games, the Slovakian youngster has a mere assist to show for his efforts.
If the Jets are committed to the youth movement, J.C. Lipon and Scott Kosmachuk should see more ice time. Both were under 10 minutes of participation on Tuesday night. It would be beneficial long term, to have the kids play now to see what they can really do.
It will be a homecoming for Andrew Copp as he will play his first NHL game in his home state. The last time the Ann Arbor native played a game in the Wolverine State was last year while at the University of Michigan.
Jacob Trouba returns to his home state and he should be primed for this one. The Rochester Michigan native had a strong game Tuesday night, scoring his first goal in six games while having strong possession numbers (56.7% corsi, 52.4% fenwick) against Nashville.
Ondrej Pavelec has started the last three games and has recorded a .911 save percentage in those outings. Is that enough to earn him a fourth straight turn between the pipes or will Paul Maurice give Pavelec a breather and put in Michael Hutchinson? We may know by the end of the morning skate.
Speed, speed and more speed. The Red Wings want to get their opponents into a track meet with the idea being they will wear down the opposition with their fast legs. Dylan Larkin and St. Andrews Manitoba native Darren Helm are two of the fastest skaters in the NHL while veterans Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg still have plenty of skill to do serious damage.
The blueline has been under scrutiny lately and it may end up hurting the Wings playoff chances. The franchise hasn’t replaced Nicklas Lidstrom (which is understandable as Lidstrom was an all-time great) and the likes of Niklas Kronwall and Mike Green are getting older, but not better.
HEY KRONWALL WHAT THE HECK ARE YOU DOING? YOU PLAY DEFENSE. COVER THE FRONT OF THE NET pic.twitter.com/dCdgy76UHk
— Prashanth Iyer (@iyer_prashanth) March 9, 2016
The Jets might be able to exploit the Wings shaky defence but this is the Jets we’re talking about. Don’t hold your breath.
A strong argument could be made for Petr Mrazek as the MVP of the Wings this season. The Czech Republic native is putting up excellent numbers, (.924 save percentage, 2.21 GAA) while keeping the Wings in a playoff position. With Detroit needing points as Philadelphia is coming on strong, expect Mrazek to get the call to guard the crease on Thursday.
Game Day Prediction: The Wings need the points while the Jets are hoping for Auston Matthews mode. Even though Detroit isn’t a powerhouse anymore, they’ll get the job done and post a 5-3 win.
Obvious Prediction: Expect at least one Gordie Howe and one Steve Yzerman reference during the broadcast.
Not So Obvious Prediction: One of either Dano, Lipon or Kosmachuk will score for the Jets. Call it a hunch.