The Winnipeg Jets head to the province of Alberta this weekend, in hopes to right the ship after a two game homestand that saw the Jets come away with only one point. Their trek into Wildrose country begins in the Stampede City Saturday night as the Calgary Flames pay host to the Jets.
There was a fair bit of discussion on social media after Thursday’s game concerning Paul Maurice’s usage of players, in particular Drew Stafford. Maurice admitted that the 11-year veteran did not have a very good game against the New York Rangers and Stafford was roundly criticized for taking a high-sticking penalty late in the third period that led to the game-winning goal for the Rangers.
Stafford is seeing top six minutes but many feel that Mathieu Perreault (who Maurice also called out after Thursday’s game) should be with Blake Wheeler and Mark Scheifele instead of Stafford. Maurice is known to put the lines into the blender so we shall see if he makes that change at some point.
Do you believe in analytics or do you trust the eye test? If you trust your eyes, you would believe that Dustin Byfuglien is struggling this season. He’s looked a little slow at times, he’s made more mistakes and he’s not as physical as he was in previous years. Yet, his analytics show he’s been effective defenceman that drives possession (51.0% Corsi, +2.89 relative corsi60) and remains a top blueliner on the Jets.
Buff is a high risk/high reward player so mistakes will happen. But more often than not, Big Buff makes the big play.
Michael Hutchison was very good Thursday night, despite picking up the loss. Hutch made 24 saves out of 26 shot attempts for a .917 save percentage, including several odd-man and breakaway opportunities by the Rangers. Is that enough for Hutch to earn a second straight start or does Maurice go back to Connor Hellebuyck?
The Flames are on a roll, winning 5 in a row and a big part of that is Johnny Gaudreau. Despite missing 10 games due to a finger injury, Johnny Hockey leads the Flames with 17 points (7G, 10A) in 20 games and has recorded 6 points (2G, 4A) in his last three games.
Gaudreau is one of the game’s bright young stars and the Jets have to be aware, whenever the diminutive yet talented forward is on the ice.
Dougie Hamilton has been the subject of trade rumours even though Flames president of hockey operations Brian Burke sharply rebuked those rumours. The Flames would be wise to keep Hamilton as he is a strong possession driver (53.3% Corsi, +14.29 CF60 RelTM) and at 23 years of age, he still hasn’t reached his prime years. Expect Hamilton to see plenty of ice time.
Going into the season, Brian Elliott was expected to be the number one goalie for the Flames. Recently however, Chad Johnson has ascended into the number one role between the pipes. The Saskatoon native has a .932 save percentage and has been in the blue paint for all five games of the Flames current winning streak. It’s a simple theory but it’s an effective theory. Ride the hot goalie. The Flames are doing just that.
Game Prediction: Since I’m terrible at predictions let’s use a little reverse psychology. Flames win 4-2.
Obvious Prediction: There will be at least one fan wearing a cowboy hat at the game.
Not So Obvious Prediction: Nikolaj Ehlers ends his scoring drought. He has to at some point. He’s had some ridiculous bad luck.