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Photo Credit: © Terrence Lee-USA TODAY Sports

What To Watch For: Jets Again Look To Prevent Minnesota From SKOL-ing

Two weeks ago, after a rather embarrassing loss at home on Thursday night where nothing seemed to go right for them or their goalie, the Winnipeg Jets flew into Minnesota for a Saturday afternoon contest and absolutely pasted the Minnesota Wild in a 6-0 victory.

Now, coming off a rather embarrassing loss at home on Thursday night where nothing seemed to go right for them or their goalie, the Winnipeg Jets fly into Minnesota for a Saturday afternoon contest and..?

 

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Afternoons have been anything but lazy

Going into this season, the Jets were staring at 14 afternoon games which was set to be a franchise high and it wasn’t like they had an overall stellar record in then which was cause for concern. Thankfully the concern is long gone as afternoon games seem to agree with the club as they’ve gone a very impressive 6-1-0 so far this season including a 3-1-0 mark on the road. I suppose if you want to look on the negative side of things, this may mean that the Jets are due for a loss – especially in a game where revenge should be fresh on the minds of Minnesota Wild players who might still have the sting of losing 6-0 in their thought – but unlike previous seasons where the Jets don’t seem fully prepared for afternoon puck, this team seems a little more ready to go with the awkward start times. Blake Wheeler especially so as he leads the Jets in scoring in day games this season with 11 points (two goals, nine assists)

Another reason Blake Wheeler may be one to watch today? His Minnesota Vikings play tomorrow afternoon in New Orleans against the Saints and the last time the Jets were in town before a Vikes playoff game, the captain couldn’t help but get wrapped up in the local fandom of his native state.

But that game is tomorrow, so here is hoping Blake can focus in and help his team get a win today which would make for a more relaxed Sunday of playoff football, wouldn’t it?

 

Can the PK get a stop?

I take you back to our last WTWF when I expressed my scorn for the Jets current penalty kill or lack therof

Four straight games having given up a power play goal – and let’s not forget the Jets are still one of the least penalized teams in the NHL, so it’s not like they are giving up that many chances – and for the month of December they only shut down 23 of 36 power plays against which is an awful 63.89% kill rate.

Update for January: It’s still bad.

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The Leafs went 1 for 3 on the power play which at first glance with a 66% success rate would be a minor victory for the Jets, but it is a bit of a misleading stat as the Jets gave up a high sticking penalty in the final minute of the game with everything already decided and the Leafs just content to play out the last 40 seconds of the game without padding any more stats.

Now to be fair the Jets were up against a pretty high powered Leafs power play unit and the goal they did allow was a bit of a stinker on the part of Connor Hellebuyck. Today the Jets line up against a Wild club that ranks 20th in the NHL with the man advantage and as you’d expect is the one team the Jets haven’t given up a power play goal too over the last ten games they’ve played.

If the Jets were ever go an entire game without giving up a power play goal, it had better be today or else it’s time to hit the full on panic button.

 

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Niku freed!(?)

Sami Niku was called up by the Winnipeg Jets Thursday afternoon but didn’t make the lineup for that night’s game against Toronto, no doubt a result of the long trip and resulting fatigue that comes when you go from Manitoba all the way to Winnipeg.

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But the good news he’s in the lineup today and he can’t possibly be any worse than what the Jets defense has demonstrated over the last few weeks. Carl Dahlstrom – who was in the lineup Thursday for the first time in weeks – is taken right back out to get Niku in there which may or may not be the right move depending on your opinion of Anthony Bitetto but you also likely don’t care because… YAY Niku in!

Speaking of Jets who may get back into the lineup, Dmitry Kulikov and Andrew Copp are on the road with the Jets as this is the start of a four game trip and may both get back into the lineup at some point themselves,

 

Bold Prediction

It is a bit much to ask the Jets for another shutout even with the Wild having struggled on offense as of late, but just like two weeks ago, a win is badly needed not only to set the tone of this road trip early, but to also help forget that Thursday night was a thing that happened. Jets win 4-1.