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Three Storylines Heading into Jets Season Series Finale Against Oilers

Following one of the worst defeats of the season, the Winnipeg Jets are looking to rebound off their 6-1 beatdown at the hands of the Edmonton Oilers, although accomplishing that feat might be easier said than done.

In the eight previous meetings this season, Winnipeg has performed to a troubling 2-6-0 record against Edmonton, allowing 3.88 goals per game and scoring just 2.63 goals per game during that span. Considering these two teams will likely face off against each other during the opening round of the playoffs, finding a way to slow down captain Connor McDavid and the rest of his offense would be a very encouraging sign ahead of this potential postseason showdown.

Here are three storylines that could impact the Jets’ final game of the regular season against the Oilers:

1. Jets Need Strong Response Early On 

After being embarrassed on Monday night, it’ll be extremely important for the Jets to come out strong and have a positive response during the first 20 minutes of Wednesday’s contest, especially since they allowed two unanswered goals in the first period of last game. With the Oilers’ offense currently riding high, as they’ve scored the third-most goals per game (4.00) since Apr. 15, any prolonged defensive miscues could put this game out of reach before the third period begins once again.

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Since Winnipeg has lost four of the eight meetings against Edmonton when trailing first, they certainly can’t afford to fall behind on the scoreboard and will need to find a way to create sustainable pressure in the offensive zone early on. If this club can spend the majority of the first period away from their own zone, chances are they’ll be able to carry some sort of lead into the second period, which will hopefully set the tone for the final 40 minutes of action.

2. Connor Hellebuyck Looking to Bounce Back From Recent Struggles

Yes, goaltender Connor Hellebuyck has allowed at least three goals in each of his last four starts, resulting in a 5.34 goals-against average and a .833 save percentage, which is definitely out of character for the 2019-20 Vezina Trophy winner. Having said that, the 27-year-old isn’t solely responsible for these concerning results, as he’s been left out to dry by his teammates far too often recently and has received very little assistance from the club’s blue line.

In particular, the Jets’ defensive issues have largely been exposed against the Oilers this season, which has played a major factor in Hellebuyck’s disappointing 4.29 goals-against average and .870 save percentage through six games against them. Unless this team starts providing its all-star netminder more support, he’ll continue to face plenty of pressure down the stretch and will be relied on to bail out his defenders throughout each contest.

3. Jansen Harkins Earning Unexpected Opportunity 

With forwards Adam Lowry and Nikolaj Ehlers sidelined, Winnipeg has been forced to shake up the forward lines and that’s created an opening for Jansen Harkins, who’s spent most of this season as a healthy scratch. Preparing for his 21st game of 2021, the 23-year-old has participated in eight of the last nine games heading into Wednesday’s matchup against Edmonton, earning 8:51 minutes of ice time per game and producing six shots on net, five hits and one block during that span.

Making his presence felt during Monday’s contest, Harkins delivered one of the biggest hits of his career on forward Kailer Yamamoto, who passed the puck away just seconds earlier. Following Wednesday’s game, the former second-round pick will be just one game away from becoming eligible for this summer’s Seattle Kraken Expansion Draft, meaning he could be playing in the Pacific Northwest next season.

Lineups:

Winnipeg Jets:

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LW C RW
Andrew Copp
ANDREW COPP

Rating: 72.5#60 LW

Mark Scheifele
MARK SCHEIFELE

Rating: 76.8#19 C

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Mason Appleton
MASON APPLETON

Rating: 69.5#123 RW

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Kyle Connor
KYLE CONNOR

Rating: 79.5#5 LW

Pierre-Luc Dubois
PIERRE-LUC DUBOIS

Rating: 74.6#38 C

Blake Wheeler
BLAKE WHEELER

Rating: 76.3#22 RW

Kristian Vesalainen
KRISTIAN VESALAINEN
Paul Stastny
PAUL STASTNY

Rating: 74.8#36 C

Mathieu Perreault
MATHIEU PERREAULT

Rating: 71.1#96 RW

Jansen Harkins
JANSEN HARKINS
Nate Thompson
NATE THOMPSON

Rating: 69.4#145 C

Trevor Lewis
TREVOR LEWIS

Rating: 70.1#114 RW

DEFENSIVE PAIRINGS
Josh Morrissey
JOSH MORRISSEY

Rating: 74.1#29 LD

Tucker Poolman
TUCKER POOLMAN

Rating: 71.6#74 RD

Derek Forbort
DEREK FORBORT

Rating: 70.5#109 LD

Neal Pionk
NEAL PIONK

Rating: 75.3#20 RD

Jordie Benn
JORDIE BENN

Rating: 70.9#101 LD

Dylan DeMelo
DYLAN DEMELO

Rating: 71.8#69 RD

Edmonton Oilers:

LW C RW
Dominik Kahun
DOMINIK KAHUN

Rating: 72.5#69 LW

Connor McDavid
CONNOR MCDAVID

Rating: 82.7#5 C

Jesse Puljujarvi
JESSE PULJUJARVI
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins
RYAN NUGENT-HOPKINS

Rating: 77.4#11 LW

Leon Draisaitl
LEON DRAISAITL

Rating: 86.1#1 C

Kailer Yamamoto
KAILER YAMAMOTO

Rating: 73.5#47 RW

Devin Shore
DEVIN SHORE

Rating: 69.6#141 LW

Ryan McLeod
RYAN MCLEOD
Josh Archibald
JOSH ARCHIBALD

Rating: 71.2#95 RW

James Neal
JAMES NEAL

Rating: 71.7#82 LW

Gaetan Haas
GAETAN HAAS

Rating: 69.6#139 C

Alex Chiasson
ALEX CHIASSON

Rating: 72.2#76 RW

DEFENSIVE PAIRINGS
Darnell Nurse
DARNELL NURSE

Rating: 74.1#30 LD

Ethan Bear
ETHAN BEAR

Rating: 71.8#66 RD

Dmitry Kulikov
DMITRY KULIKOV

Rating: 71.9#78 LD

Adam Larsson
ADAM LARSSON

Rating: 71.1#88 RD

Caleb Jones
CALEB JONES

Rating: 71.0#14 LD

Ethan Bear
ETHAN BEAR

Rating: 71.8#66 RD

Where to Watch/Listen:

The puck will drop at 8 pm CT for a second straight game and be available on TSN 3 along with 680 CJOB.