It’s game number four of the six game homestand tonight as the San Jose Sharks come into town for their fourth and final game against the Winnipeg Jets tonight.
The Jets had been rolling with a three game win streak and four wins in their last five games (that fifth game being an overtime loss) until they stumbled against the New York Rangers in a 4-1 loss. Getting back into the win column will be of utmost importance for the Jets as they are a single point out of the second wild card spot, but with both Arizona (ahead of them), Nashville and Minnesota (both behind by two points each) having games in hand over the Jets.
Keep shooting, just do it closer
No one could accuse the Jets of not getting shots on goal during their loss to the Rangers as they actually out-shot New York 44-32. The problem was the Jets got away from driving to the net and only ended up with six even strength high danger scoring chances for, but nine against. The Jets generally give up more of those than they get most nights, but during their five game point streak, it had felt like the Jets were at least getting to the opposing goals with a little more frequency.
The Jets would be wise to resume getting traffic to and in front of the Sharks net tonight.
As for San Jose…
It’s been a tough time in the ol tank this year as the Sharks have struggled all season to score goals and done an even worse job keeping them out of their own net. San Jose’s -40 goal differential is second worst in the Western Conference and their team save percentage of .892 is 29th in the league. There are a few bright spots for the Sharks as Erik Karlsson and Evander Kane lead the team in points and goals respectively. Brent Burns has points in three straight (2g, 2a) and will be playing in his 1,100th NHL game tonight. Timo Meier (2g, 3a) is also on a three-game point streak.
But their goaltending has been a whole lot of bad tonight and with the Sharks playing game one of a back-to-back set (they’ll be in Minnesota tomorrow night) the Jets will get to face Aaron Dell in goal who was last seen giving up six goals in a 6-2 loss to the Calgary Flames. Dell actually had a pretty decent record against the Jets having gone 3-1-1 in five career games against them, but with his save percentage at .871 and GAA at 3.60, there is a good chance the Jets should be able to get some goals past him.
The power-play is key
For all of San Jose’s struggles this season, it’s surprising to see that they have the NHL’s best penalty kill at 85.64%. That percentage took a bit of a hit on Monday as they gave up three power-play goals in the six times they were shorthanded against the Calgary Flames.
Perhaps part of the reason the Sharks have one of the league’s best penalty kills is because they get to practice it often. They are second in the NHL in penalty minutes per game with 11.1 – almost two full minors ahead of the Jets who sit 24th in the league with 7.4 PIMs per game.
Outside of a Patrik Laine explosion on the power play against Ottawa, Winnipeg’s man advantage unit has really been anything but. In the last ten games played, the Jets power-play is 5 for 37 (13.51%) and has gone goal less in seven of those ten games.
Winnipeg will likely have more than a few chances to pick up a power play goal in tonight’s contest, but actually scoring one may prove difficult.
Let’s hope the Rangers game was an outlier compared to the previous five games the Jets had played where playoff hopes sprung eternal. If the Jets can tally at least once on the power play and keep the front of their net clean and limit odd-man chances against Connor Hellebuyck, the Jets should see themselves back in a playoff spot (for now) by the end of the night. Jets win 4-2.