The All-Star break is behind us, and we’re entering the home stretch. At 23-25-4, the Winnipeg Jets aren’t in a great position, but they’re not quite out of it yet, either. The post-all-star part of the schedule begins Tuesday with a three-game road trip against central division opponents.
As Cammers explained on Saturday, the Jets can still make the playoffs but to do so they’ll be required to leapfrog a few teams and there is no way better to do that than to win division games. So far this season, the Jets are 11-4-1 in the division, so this might be the week they finally get rolling. Game this week are against the bottom half of the Central division with games in St. Louis, Dallas, and Colorado. Let’s take a look at how they stack up.
Tuesday, January 31, at St. Louis Blues, Scottrade Center, 7PM, TSN3, TSN1290
Things have not gone super well for the Blues as of late, losing three of their last four and six of their last nine, including a 5-3 loss in Winnipeg on January 21. The goaltending has been a bit of a disaster, as they left Jake Allen at home to get a ‘mental reset’ while they gave Pheonix Copley his first career start in that game in Winnipeg. Carter Hutton got the next two starts, a 34-save shutout win in Pittsburgh before getting the hook in Minnesota after letting up five goals. Jake Allen made his return in relief against the Wild, stopping all three shots he faced in almost 18 minutes of action. The Jets are unbeaten against the Blues this year, winning 3-2 in overtime in the first meeting and 5-3 as mentioned previously. The Blues currently lead the Jets by three points in the standings. Since that last meeting, the Blues have placed center Kyle Brodziak on IR with a right foot injury.
All-star Vladimir Tarasenko (21-26–47) still leads the team in scoring, followed by defenceman Kevin Shattenkirk, who has two goals aainst the Jets this year (and just turned 28 years old yesterday) is second on the team (11-22–33).
Thursday, February 2, at Dallas Stars, American Airlines Center, 7:30PM, TSN3, TSN1290
Dallas currently has the same amount of points as Winnipeg (50) although they’ve played two less games. They’ve been treading water recently, going 2-1-2 in their last five, to sit at 20-20-10 going into the break. These two teams haven’t faced each other since a November 8th 8-2 win by the Jets in Winnipeg. Prior to that the teams had split a home-and-home in October, so the season series sits at 2-1 in favour of the Jets and they’ll face off again on Valentine’s Day. Tyler Seguin (18-29–47) and Jaime Benn (13-28–41) are leading the team in scoring and the goaltending has been what we’ve come to expect out of Dallas the last couple of seasons. Antti Niemi has gotten 22 starts, going 10-7-4 with a .900SV% and a 3.20GAA, while Kari Lehtonen has started 28 games. He has a 10-13-6 record, with a .902 and a 2.80, while registering one shutout. The injury bug has hit the team in recent weeks as blueliners Jaime Oleksiak and Johnny Oduya have been placed on IR, while Radek Faksa has missed the last two games with an LBI and his status going forward is unknown.
The Stars will host the Maple Leafs on Tuesday, in what will be the fourth of six straight at home.
Saturday, February 4, at Colorado Avalanche, Pepsi Center, 2PM, TSN3, TSN1290
Another Saturday matinee for the Jets, as they face the Avalanche in Denver at 2PM. The woeful Avs are 13-31-2, dead last in the Central, and trade rumours swirl around captain Gabriel Landeskog and centre Matt Duchene. Going into the break, Colorado had dropped seven in a row (once in OT) and they haven’t won a game in regulation since December 11, nineteen games ago! They swing through Anaheim and LA, before starting a three-game homestand against the Jets. Nathan MacKinnon is the team leader in points (11-22–33), followed by Duchene (15-14–29) and defenceman Tyson Barrie (3-20–23), though Barrie is on the IR with a lower-body injury and it is unclear when he’ll be able to return. Also on IR is Rene Bourque, who has 9 goals on the season and may be ready to return, and goaltender Semyon Varlamov, who is done for the year with a groin injury. That leaves the goaltending duties to Calvin Pickard (7-13-1, .906, 3.01) and Spencer Martin (0-1-1, .857, 4.03).
Winnipeg is 2-0-1 against the Avs this year, with the most recent decision going to Winnipeg by a score of 4-1. The fifth and final meeting between the two clubs will go in Winnipeg on March 4.
Further on Down the Road: The Jets will return to the MTS Centre for four in a row after this trip. Division games continue as Minnesota (the only Central rival the Jets have yet to beat this season) visits before a weekend back-to-back against the Blackhawks and Lightning. The homestand concludes with the Valentine’s Day game against the Stars.