Following a memorable 5-2 comeback win over the Chicago Blackhawks, the Winnipeg Jets have now taken control of the second Wild Card spot in the Western Conference. The Jets also made a little bit of history during their victory back on Sunday.
— NHL Public Relations (@PR_NHL) February 10, 2020
Heading into tonight’s action, the Jets are set to welcome the 27-23-4 New York Rangers for the final time this season. During their previous meeting, New York defeated Winnipeg 6-4 to open the 2019-20 campaign. Although, both of these teams have gone in different directions since the first game of the year. While the Jets have continued to compete for a playoff spot, the Rangers have struggled mightily at times this season and currently sit eleven points out of the second Wild Card position in the Eastern Conference.
1) Patrik Laine’s Hot Streak Continues
After taking a bit of a step backward in his development last season, forward Patrik Laine has certainly improved off his disappointing 2018-19 campaign during this season. Currently, the 21-year-old is on pace to surpass his goal total (30) from last season. Based on his recent success, there’s a slight chance that he’ll be able to reach 40 goals for the second time in his young career as well.
After producing just one goal and three points from Jan. 1 to Jan. 17, Laine has scored at least one goal in seven of his previous nine games. In total, the right-hander has tallied nine goals since Jan. 19. In addition to his recent production, Laine has also been extremely successful against the Rangers through his three seasons in the NHL. Over his seven career games against New York, the Finland native has created four goals, five points and 18 shots on net.
2) Special Teams Playing a Major Role
While both the Jets and Rangers only converted on one of their power play opportunities during their previous meeting, those same results aren’t likely to occur during tonight’s matchup. Since Jan. 1, New York has produced a league-best 40.0% conversion rate on the power play. However, their team has also recorded the most penalty minutes per game (11:38) during that same timeframe as well.
As for Winnipeg, they’ve produced the ninth-most penalty minutes per game (9:07) since the start of January. But, their penalty-killing unit has generated the tenth-best success rate (82.2%) among all 31 teams during their 17 games since Jan.1. So, the Jets should be capable of keeping the Rangers off the scoreboard while on the penalty kill and their power-play unit should receive a lot of opportunities to improve their overall conversion rate of just 19.8%.
3) More Home Ice Dominance From Kyle Connor
Through 30 home games this season, forward Kyle Connor has been one Winnipeg’s best offensive players. During that span, the 23-year-old leads the Jets in goals (17) and points (32) at Bell MTS Place. Furthermore, Connor has also created three goals and eight points over his last four home games.
Congrats, KC! pic.twitter.com/eZIAla2Fxy
— Winnipeg Jets (@NHLJets) February 10, 2020
Luckily for Connor, including tonight’s showdown, each of Winnipeg’s next four games are set to take place at home. While he’s only produced two points over his six career games against the Rangers, Connor’s impressive play isn’t expected to slow down anytime soon. So, the left-hander should be able to extend his current two-game point streak later tonight.
During the opening period, both the Jets and Rangers will be featured on the scoresheet once before the end of the first period. Following a pair of goals from Connor in the second period, Winnipeg will enter the final frame with a 3-1 lead. Despite allowing New York to trim the lead to 3-2, Laine will add an empty-net goal to solidify Winnipeg’s 4-2 victory.