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Photo Credit: © Bruce Fedyck-USA TODAY Sports

JGD 72: Not So Wild About Minnesota

The Minnesota Wild have been in a bit of a tailspin as of late having lost their last four games in a row and sporting a 1-6-0 record in their last seven games, but today’s game against the Winnipeg Jets may provide some relief.

Simply put, the Wild have owned the Jets for years and this season is no different as they go for a 5 and 0 regular season sweep of Winnipeg this afternoon.

Lineups

Winnipeg (31-33-7 – 5th in Central)

Nikolaj Ehlers – Bryan Little – Patrik Laine

Mathieu Perreault – Mark Scheifele – Blake Wheeler

Andrew Copp – Adam Lowry – Joel Armia

Marko Dano – Nic Petan – Chris Thorburn

This is actually pretty close to an ideal lineup for the Jets forward wise. It could do with some more Dano and Petan on the 3rd line with Armia while Copp, Lowry and almost anyone not named Thorburn were on the 4th line, but being that this game doesn’t matter anyway, it could be worse. Meanwhile for the top six forwards, Paul Maurice has had those two lines together for a couple of games now, so don’t be surprised when he changes them up mid-game because that’s what he always does.

Julian Melchiori – Dustin Byfuglien

Josh Morrissey – Brian Strait

Mark Stuart – Ben Chiarot

Paul Postma is the latest victim to the Jets defensive unit which means an already thin lineup gets even thinner with a call up of Brian Strait. I’m sure there are ways for this group to be worse, although I am not sure how. Five of the six you see here are left handed shots. Two of these players are legit NHL level defensemen, the other four are a bunch of meh.

Connor Hellebuyck (Starter) – Michael Hutchinson (Backup)

Hellebuyck makes his 16th start in a row for the Jets. Maybe the issue is that Paul Maurice has forgotten that Hutchinson can also start the odd game here and there. Maybe Paul still thinks somehow the Jets are still in a playoff race (I guess they are technically) and needs to ride his number one all the way to a playoff spot. Maybe the Oilers are giving the Jets advice on how to use only one goalie ever.

Minnesota Wild (43-21-6 – 2nd in Central)

Nino Niederreiter – Eric Staal – Charlie Coyle

Jason Zucker – Mikko Koivu – Mikael Granlund

Zach Parise – Erik Haula – Jason Pominville

Chris Stewart – Martin Hanzal – Jordan Schroeder

After a seven goal outburst against the Florida Panthers on March 10th, the Wild have only managed to score seven goals in their last four games. This team can put up some goals though and has four players (Granlund, Staal, Niederreiter & Zucker) with 20+ goals or more and a fifth (Koivu) who is two off that mark.  Eric Staal will play in his 1000th NHL game today.

Ryan Suter – Jared Spurgeon

Jonas Brodin – Matt Dumba

Marco Scandella – Nate Prosser

It wouldn’t be a proper Minnesota Wild team if they didn’t specialize in defense and this club certainly does. They are 6th in goals against per game and 7th on the penalty kill with 84%. This is a big and very mobile group that can move the puck extremely well when they are on

Darcy Kuemper (Starter) – Devan Dubnyk (Backup)

Kuemper has struggled in his last two starts as he’s not looked good in either and been pulled in both. One of those two starts was the February 28th game against the Winnipeg Jets.

Predictions:

Game Prediction: The Wild are gonna be a bit snarly after a tough loss last night at home to the Rangers. They need to get back on the positive side of things, so a quick start will be critical for them and they’ll get it with a 3-0 first period lead that lets them cruise to a 5-2 win.

Obvious Prediction: Turnovers in the Jets defensive zone. Lots of turnovers. Pray for Hellebuyck.

Not So Obvious Prediction: Jets fans – fed up with yet another lost season and frustrated by yet another bad start – chant “Let’s Go Bombers” early in the game. It will be uncertain if they mean the football club, or actual literal bomber planes to help put everyone out of their misery,