After a one game stop at home to get a change of underwear and outlast the Columbus Blue Jackets in a crazy back and forth game on Saturday, the Winnipeg Jets are right back on the road for a three game US Thanksgiving road trip through California that sees them playing in San Jose tonight before back to back games a little further south against the Ducks and then Kings.
But it’s tonight’s game against San Jose that has our attention, and in a weird way we’re hoping things go differently for the Jets than they did the last time they were in the Shark Tank, but still somehow end up with the same result.
Let’s not do that again…
The last time the Jets rolled into San Jose was at the beginning of November where they gave up 53 shots and needed an all-world performance from Connor Hellebuyck and a late third period goal from Nikolaj Ehlers to save the day in a 3-2 victory over the Sharks. At the time, the Sharks were a miserable 4-8-1, had lost their last three games in a row and five of their last six played.
Now the Sharks are 13-11-1, have won their last three in a row and are 9-3-0 in the month of November and have been playing much better hockey. That said, they’ve also needed extra time of some sort in their last four wins and have only managed to get over 30 shots on goal in one of their last five games.
The Jets since that meeting with the Sharks on December 1 have become a somewhat better defensive team – at least compared to how they were at the end of October which granted isn’t saying much – so don’t expect the same level of domination from the Sharks at they had at the start of the month, but at the same time the Jets had better not count on the same inept play from Sharks defense and goalie Martin Jones who let in a handful of stinkers to practically hand the Jets the win.
Hellebuyck Back In
And speaking of Connor Hellebuyck…
After having most of the night off on Saturday but needing to come in for the last eight minutes and make a few stops against the Columbus Blue Jackets. The rest had been well earned as in six of the eight games he’s played in November, he’s had to face 30+ shots and in those six games has a .945 save percentage with a 4-1-1 record. Hellebuyck leads the league in quality starts with 13 and is fifth amount goalies in shots against with an even 600.
Get The PK Back On Track
The Jets penalty kill had been slowly seeing some improvement over the last few weeks, but the Columbus Blue Jackets ripped it apart on Saturday scoring three times out of the five man advantage chances the Jets (and refs) handed them including back-to-back goals on a 5v3 then 5v4 power plays. The PK had climbed to 24th in the NHL at a 75.50% kill rate, but now it’s back to 72.22% which puts it at 30th in the league. San Jose has had a middle of the road power play this season, but lately it’s gone 0 for 7 over it’s last four games and 2 for 20 over it’s last eight games played. Winnipeg would be wise to stay out of the box as much as possible and not give the Sharks a chance to make things worse for the Jets PK.
By the way, while we’re on the subject of the penalty kill, the Sharks have the league’s best penalty kill at an astonishing 91.4% and have only given up 2 power play goals in the last 35 times they’ve been short handed. The Jets meanwhile have gone 0 for 7 with the man advantage in their last three games.
Don’t expect much from the Jets power play tonight.
Ehlers Finding His Fit With Wheeler And Roslovic
After being held off the scoresheet for a five game stretch for the first couple weeks of November, Nikolaj Ehlers has bounced back in a big way with a goal in four of his last five games played. He’s seemingly finding a good fit playing with Blake Wheeler (who had a goal and an assist in that game against Columbus) and Jack Roslovic (who has had a point in three of his last four games played. As noted in the game against Columbus, the Jets “second line” actually had better advanced metrics than the first line of Mark Scheifele, PATRIK LAINE and Kyle Connor.
Also, any time you mention Nik Ehlers and San Jose, it’s hard not to think about the most unusual hat trick Jets fans will likely ever see that he earned against the Sharks almost a year ago last season.