A Look Ahead: Jets Host Two Canadian Teams Before Heading West

It’s Monday morning and most Jets fans are still undoubtedly trying to shake off Saturday afternoon’s loss to the Buffalo Sabres. Most are also still trying to recover from that clean hit that Jake McCabe laid on Patrik Laine in the third period. But it’s time to look ahead as the boys are back in action Monday night with the Flames rolling in. Montreal comes to town on Wednesday and then another west coast trip looms with back-to-back games against the Coyotes and Kings, before facing San Jose early next week. Let’s take a closer look at what’s in store.

Monday, January 9 vs Calgary Flames, MTS Centre, 7pm (TSN3, TSN1290)

The Flames have gotten hot and have won 5 of their last 7 games to now sit at 22-18-2 and atop the wildcard race in the Western Conference with 46 points, 5 ahead of the Jets. The last time these two teams met (the only time so far this season), Calgary whipped Winnipeg 6-2 at the Saddledome. There is going to need to be a better showing if the Jets are going to find a way to scratch and claw their way back into the playoff race. In that game, Dougie Hamilton scored twice and rookie Matthew Tkachuk had three assists, while Chad Johnson stopped 26 of 28 shots. Mikael Backlund (12-15–27) and Johnny Gaudreau (10-17–27) lead the team in scoring on the year with Tkachuk right up there, too (7-18–25). In net, things are have been a bit unsettled as the starting job seems to have bounced back and forth from Chad Johnson to Brian Elliott. For the season, Johnson is 14-8-1 in his 23 appearances with a .922SV% and a 2.28GAA while Brian Elliott has appeared in 20 games, going 8-10-1 with a .889 and 2.95 and appears to currently be the go-to goaltender.

Fun fact: The Jets will be wearing their Heritage Classic jerseys as alternates for the first time. No word on what the Flames will be wearing, but it’d be super cool if their wore some sort of throwbacks, too.

Wednesday, January 11 vs Montreal Canadiens, MTS Centre, 6:30pm (Sportsnet, TSN1290)

Former division rival Shea Weber will lead his new club into the MTS Centre for the first time on Wednesday as the Jets face the Atlantic division leading Canadiens for the first time this season. The Canadiens got some bad news over the weekend as forward Brendan Gallagher underwent surgery to repair a fracture in his right hand and is expected to miss eight weeks. The good news for the Habs, however, is the return of Alex Galchenyuk and Andrei Markov who could both play in Monday night’s game against the Capitals. Montreal is fourth in the league in goals for this season and fifth in the league in goals against. They are led in scoring by Max Pacioretty (19-15–34) and Alexander Radulov (10-21–31). In net, Montreal has all-world goaltender Carey Price back after missing so much time last season and he’s doing what he does, with a record of 20-5-4 in his 29 starts, with a save percentage of .930 and a goals against of 2.06. Backing him up is Jets 2.0 career save percentage leader (for now), Al Montoya. On the year, he is 11-5-4, with a .911 and 2.76, numbers which are inflated due to the 10-0 loss he suffered to Columbus earlier in the year.

Friday, January 13 @ Arizona Coyotes, Gila River Arena, 8pm (TSN3, TSN1290)

After facing two Canadian counterparts in the early part of the week, the Jets will head out on  west coast road trip which will start off against the Arizona Coyotes. This game will hopefully mark the first time the Jets will face recently departed Alexander Burmistrov, if he’s able to get his visa issues sorted out. The Coyotes earned a 2-1 shootout win over the New York Islanders on Saturday night to end their 9 game losing streak. That marked the last game for the ‘Yotes before their ‘bye week’, which gives them 5 full days off. Going into their bye, the scoring leaders are Radim Vrbata (9-15–24) and Oliver Ekman-Larsson (8-12–20). Between the pipes Arizona has been utilizing Mike Smith (7-11-5, .918, 2.83) and Louis Domingue (5-10-1, .899, 3.24). With the five days off, there is some hope that the Coyotes can get some healthy bodies back. In addition to Burmi’s visa issues, they’ve also been missing Max Domi (who is gone for awhile with a broken hand), but Martin Hanzal (LBI) and Jordan Martinook (UBI) could be back on Friday. Also expected to return on Friday is rookie Anthony Deangelo, who is finished serving a three game suspension for verbal abuse towards an official. The Jets won the only previous meeting this season, 3-2, back in November.

Saturday, January 14 @ Los Angeles Kings, Staples Center, 9pm (Sportsnet, TSN3)

The Jets will finish the week with a back-to-back and another game against a Western Conference wildcard contender. The Kings are currently three points ahead of the Jets at 20-16-4, with two games in hand. They’ve only won once in regulation in their last seven games and will host the Stars and Blues this week before the Jets come to town as the fifth game in a seven game homestand. The Kings are led on the scoresheet by Jeff Carter, who has 22 goals and 14 assists for 36 points on the year. In net, they’ve been missing Jonathon Quick since the very early part of the season and he’s not expected back until at least mid-February. Filling in has been ex-Jets-asset Peter Budaj, who has done an admirable job with a save percentage of .919 and a goals-against average of 2.03 with four shutouts in 32 starts. Also on the injured list for LA is centreman Tyler Toffoli, out since Dec 22 with a lower body injury.

Further On Down The Road: The Jets will finish up their road trip next Monday with the first meeting of the season against the San Jose Sharks, a 3pm start on Martin Luther King Day in the US. Then starts an important four game homestand featuring the Coyotes, Blues, Ducks and Sharks.

  • FishWhiskey

    Sooooo, Peter Budaj is a .919 goalie in LA???

    Kind of makes me wonder how great Helle might look with a team in front of him that plays a defensive strategy and penalty kill that protects goalies instead of destroys them.

    Maybe I’m wrong about that but it would be great to see an article that digs into how defensive strategy and power play frequency influences goalies.

    • FishWhiskey

      Thanks Jets!

      That good D effort and effective penalty kill on very few penalties in the game against Calgary last night answered my question.

      Given proper support, Helle looked like a world beater.

      In the words of Helle himself, post game:

      “”said Hellebuyck, who also recorded the fifth shutout of his two-year NHL career. “The way the guys were playing in front of me made it even more fun because they were controlling the shots and making it easy on me.””

      The Jets DON”T have a goalie problem.