Following their deflating 3-2 defeat against the Kings, the Jets will be looking to get back into the win column against the 6-5-1 Flames during the fifth ever Heritage Classic. After producing two goals or fewer in each of their last five games, the Jets will need to find a way to put significantly more pucks in the back of the net in their 12th game of the 2019-20 season.
So, let’s dive into the headlines and storylines you’ll need to focus on before puck drop tonight.
1) Additional Ice Time for Nikolaj Ehlers
Forward Nikolaj Ehlers sustained his fewest amount of time on ice so far this season during the Jets 3-2 loss against the Kings on Tuesday. As a result of the Jets’ four penalties against the Kings, Ehlers only received 14:07 minutes of ice time. Despite the lack of TOI, the 23-year-old was still able to produce a pair of points, including his game-tying goal coming late in the second period.
Through eleven games this season, Ehlers is now averaging 17:16 minutes of TOI. Following tonight’s game, Ehlers should see his average ice time increase significantly. Currently, the Flames are averaging the second-most penalty minutes (11:38) per game throughout the entire league. Even though Ehlers is positioned on the second power-play unit, he’ll still likely be given much more than just 14 minutes of ice time as he did against the Flames.
2) Continuing Struggles on Power Play
So far this season, the Jets power play has performed inconsistently through their eleven games played. Entering this game, the Jets own a 15.8% conversion rate with their power-play unit, which ranks ninth-worst in the league. The Flames also come into this game with the third-best success rate on the penalty kill (88.9%).
In addition to the Flames success on the penalty kill, the Jets have also been lacking production from a few key players on their first power-play unit this season. Neither forwards Patrick Laine or Blake Wheeler have scored a single goal while their team has had the man advantage this season. So, the Jets will need to start receiving improved results from that duo in order for the Jets power play to begin recording consistent results.
3) Outcome Determined in 2nd Period
Based on how the majority of Jets games have been decided this season, it shouldn’t come as a surprise to read that the winner of this game will also very likely be determined during the middle period of the Heritage Classic. Coming into this game, both the Jets and the Flames have allowed their fair share of goals during the second period.
Through eleven games this season, the Jets have surrendered a total of 17 goals against during the second period, which is the second-most throughout the entire league. Additionally, the Flames have given up 18 goals during the second period this season, which ranks first in the league with Winnipeg just slightly behind them.
Both the Jets and the Flames will play aggressively during the first period, which will result in the score being tied 1-1 entering the second period. During the second frame of the game, the Jets will overpower the Flames by producing a trio of goals that will carry their lead through the rest of the game.