Coming into tonight’s game, the Winnipeg Jets have lost six of their last seven contests and are currently riding a four-game losing streak. During this awful four-game stretch, the Jets have allowed an average of five goals/game and have tallied an average of just 1.8 goals/game as well.
During their first game since Jan. 22, Winnipeg will also be attempting to split their season series against the Atlantic Division-leading Boston Bruins. In their previous meeting back on Jan. 9, the Bruins completed their comeback over the Jets following a pair of late third period goals from forwards David Pastrnak and Jake DeBrusk.
1) Strong Finish for Winnipeg’s Power Play
Overall, the Jets power-play unit has produced just the 15th-highest conversion rate (20.0%) through their 51 games this season. Although, they’ve been gradually improving that rate since the start of January. During Winnipeg’s eleven games this month, their power play has generated the 12th-best conversion rate (23.3%) among all 31 teams in the league.
While the Bruins currently own the fourth-best success rate (83.1%) on the penalty kill this season, that same unit has struggled mightily this month. Since Jan. 1, Boston has generated the sixth-worst rate (73.1%) on the penalty kill throughout the entire league. As a result, tonight’s matchup should provide the Jets with another opportunity to further improve their production with the man advantage.
2) Continuing Increased Ice Time for Sami Niku
Prior to the All-Star break, defenseman Sami Niku logged 20:58 minutes of ice time during Winnipeg’s 4-3 loss against the Columbus Blue Jackets. That total was the most TOI Niku has received since he recorded a career-high 21:50 minutes against the Nashville Predators back on Jan. 12.
Over his five games since that date, Niku has played more than 15 minutes in a game just twice. With the 23-year-old now positioned on the Jets’ second defensive pairing, he should continue to earn somewhere around 20 minutes of ice time per game. Despite being pointless in four straight games, the left-hander will likely see his offensive production increase once he starts receiving more consistent ice time.
3) Another Fast-Paced 3rd Period
During their previous meeting back in Boston earlier this month, Winnipeg surrendered their one-goal lead in the final frame of the game by allowing back-to-back goals within just 33 seconds of each other. For both teams, allowing goals during the third period has become a major issue this month. Coming into tonight, the Jets are tied for the fourth-most goals (13) allowed in the third, while the Bruins are tied for the tenth-most (11) in that same category.
Since Winnipeg has scored the second-fewest number of goals (5) in the final 20 minutes since the start of January, they’ll be forced to step up their defensive intensity in the third. Based on these metrics, similar results are likely to occur during tonight’s game at Bell MTS Place. Hopefully, the Jets won’t surrender their lead late in the third period this time around.
With Tuukka Rask playing in his first game since Jan. 14, the All-Star goalie will keep the Jets off the scoreboard through the opening 20 minutes. However, Winnipeg will enter the third period with a 2-1 lead. Unfortunately for the Jets, Laurent Brossoit will allow the tying goal just five minutes into the period. But, Winnipeg’s backup goaltender will be able to keep the game tied, forcing overtime.
Following a costly turnover by the Bruins in the offensive zone, captain Blake Wheeler will escape on a breakaway to score the game-winner along with his eighth career goal against Boston.