Two weeks ago, the Winnipeg Jets were supposed to face the New Jersey Devils in the Garden State. However, Winter Storm Stella had other ideas. Mother Nature wreaked havoc across the Northeastern U.S, thus the game was postponed. The makeup date is now here and barring any unforeseen circumstances, the Jets will duel with the Devils in Newark.
Patrik Laine missed Sunday’s game against Vancouver as he was battling the flu. The rookie sensation is expected to return to the lineup as he looks to retake the lead in goals by a rookie.
The debate on who to protect for the upcoming expansion draft is heating up. Twitter has been afire lately with this, especially the debate between Mathieu Perreault and Adam Lowry. Perreault is a better point producer when healthy but Lowry brings youth and size to the middle. Let the debate rage on. (I’d keep Perreault.)
Tyler Myers has been skating with the club but his return remains a question mark. With Dustin Byfuglien likely gone for the season, it gives the likes of Nelson Nogier a chance to get himself noticed. There is a possibility that Brendan Kitchon may see game time with the big club as well. As we’ve stated before depth on the blueline must be addressed in the offseason.
Even though the games haven’t meant much in terms of a playoff race, props should be given to Michael Hutchinson for some strong play in the blue paint. In his last four appearances, Hutch has a .950 save percentage with three of those games ending up as wins. It’s a bit of a shame that he couldn’t pull together a streak like this in December or January.
New Jersey (27-35-13)
It’s been a disappointing season for the Devils but the top line of Taylor Hall, Kyle Palmieri and Winnipeg’s Travis Zajac have had a fine season. The trio leads the Devils in scoring and have accounted for one third of the Devils offence. Hall and Zajac are good possession drivers while Palmieri is a solid sniper.
Remember when the Devils blueline had the likes of Scott Stevens and Scott Niedermayer? Remember when Stevens used to destroy people who dared cross into his territory? Remember when Niedermayer could control the game with his smooth skating and exceptional puck movement? That was 15-20 years ago. Today, the Devils defence is sorely lacking. Only one Devil d-man (Damon Severson) is at 50.0% CF% with the rest of the corps below that number. This is a vulnerable group that gives up shots and scoring chances. The Devils wish it was 2000 instead of 2017.
Former Manitoba Moose standout Cory Schneider is having an average season for the Devils. His .911 save percentage and 2.71 goals against average would be passable on a good team. But Schneider hasn’t had a lot of help from his friends in front of him either. That said, Schneider is capable of stealing a win on any given night. If he only had some help.
Game Prediction: It doesn’t mean much this season but it’s still a game that has to be played. The Jets have an annoying habit of playing well when there’s nothing to play for. We call a 3-2 Jets win.
Obvious Prediction: Expect a small crowd in Newark. With two teams out of a playoff chase and Newark just across the river from New York, the people in New Jersey will have other things to do.
Not So Obvious Prediction: Both Perreault and Lowry will score on consecutive nights and Jets Twitter will self-destruct into a smouldering pile of hot takes.
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