Wednesday’s win over the Minnesota Wild was a bit of a feel good moment for the Jets even if it came at the expense of roster made up of mostly AHL level players. Yes, the results of preseason games don’t really matter, but you still want to see victories, especially at home when your the visitor’s lineup is typically a bit weaker than what the home side offers up in terms of player experience and talent.
Tonight’s game (7pm CST start on TSN3) is no exception as the Jets will ice a relatively competitive mix of NHL and AHL talent – Nik Ehlers, Andrew Copp, Adam Lowry and Connor Hellebuyck starting in goal some of the more established players getting in tonight – compared to the St. Louis Blues who will be bringing a somewhat decent first line, and an ok defense along with their now backup goalie, but not a whole lot else. At the very least it will be a stiffer challenge than the Wild gave Winnipeg a couple of days ago which should make a win mean even a little bit more as both teams play their third preseason game.
Here’s a look at what the Jets will bring to the table tonight….
— Winnipeg Jets PR (@WpgJetsPR) September 19, 2019
— Brian Munz (@BrianMunzTSN) September 20, 2019
Hellebuyck gets the start tonight, we’ll see if he goes the full distance or if the Jets split half the game with Comrie.
Over with the Blues, expect to see this lineup.
— Jeremy Rutherford (@jprutherford) September 20, 2019
Three things to look for tonight as you watch the game…
1 – These are the proving grounds
Ville Heinola, Kristian Vesalainen and Logan Stanley all get into their second game of this preseason. Heinola had his head coach singing his praises after the first game against the Wild and observers wondering if there was an ever so slight outside chance he could make the club out of camp. Vesalainen and Stanley did ok in their preseason debuts but the Jets will need to see more from each of them if they are hoping not to be some of the first cuts sent to Manitoba Moose camp which starts on Sunday.
2 – Chibisov continues to play
It might be an indication of what the Jets are hoping for from forward Andrei Chibisov that he’s in his third preseason game tonight as they continue to try and get him a crash-course in playing on North American ice surfaces. He’s looked good in each of the games played so far playing on top six lines even without any points picked up, but will get a turn on more of a checking / AHL-level fourth line. I’ve seen suggestions he could be a Brandon Tanev replacement beside Adam Lowry which is certainly possible. Andrei doesn’t quite have the speed that Tanev had, but if the Jets were looking to form a solid shutdown forward line, the 6’4″ Chibisov with 6’5″ Lowry would be a good start.
3 – Neal Pionk for all the minutes
Pionk is your “veteran” NHL defenseman for this game in a lineup that also features Cam Schilling, Luke Green and Nelson Nogier. To the point earlier about Heinola, he and Pionk are the top pairing tonight and will see plenty of ice time. Pionk’s debut with the Jets on Monday against Edmonton went ok-ish, but there were examples of where he does struggle with defending in his own end and gap control. Also, if the Jets do get any power play time tonight, expect them to run a four forwards / one defenseman set as they mostly have in the first two games with Pionk probably being on the lead man advantage unit.