Ehlers, Connor, Hellebuyck: Three skaters to watch as Jets begin final four-game homestand of 2021-22 (6:00 p.m. CT, TSN 3)
Photo credit:Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports
By Thomas Hall7 months ago
As we enter the final week of the 2021-22 season, the Winnipeg Jets are set to begin their final homestand of the campaign, beginning a four-game slate versus the Colorado Avalanche.
That’s right, for a team that’s currently riding a four-game losing streak, they’ll be tasked with ending this slide against the Central Division-leading Avalanche. Should be easy enough, right? Probably not.
Nevertheless, during what’s been an extremely disappointing performance this season, the Jets will attempt to provide their fans with a taste of what’s to come in 2022-23. Though, envisioning the future could be difficult given the potential changes that are expected to occur this off-season.
Either way, the fan base has four more games to watch this current group. With that in mind, let’s explore three skaters worth keeping an eye on during this matchup between Winnipeg and Colorado.
Last Game: Two shots on goal, 19:43 minutes
Tasked with facing one of the most elite offences in the NHL, the Jets will surely require a productive showing from forward @Nikolaj Ehlers if they’re to be successful on Sunday.
Lately, however, the 26-year-old has struggled offensively as he enters this contest without a point in consecutive games and hasn’t registered a goal since Apr. 15, either. In saying that, he does feature plenty of prior success against the Avalanche, as he’s posted 10 goals and 20 points through 20 career contests.
Whether it’s at even-strength or on the power play, there’s a pretty strong chance Ehlers breaks out of his scoring drought on home ice at Canada Life Centre.
Last Game: One goal, three shots on goal, 23:07 minutes
On Thursday, forward @Kyle Connor served as one of Winnipeg’s lone offensive contributors against the Carolina Hurricanes, and he should receive a massive boost this time around as he’ll be reunited with the club’s No. 1 centre, @Pierre-Luc Dubois.
After spending the last several games apart, this lethal duo of Connor and Dubois – who’ll also be joined by @Jansen Harkins – is expected to occupy the team’s second line. There, they’ll look to re-engage the strong chemistry that was created between them before being mistakenly separated by the coaching staff.
It’s truly a mystery as to why interim coach Dave Lowry and his staff broke up these two talented skaters in the first place. But alas, we’ll probably never receive an answer to that debate.
If Connor scores his 45th goal on Sunday, he’ll break the franchise’s record for most goals in a single season since returning to Winnipeg, passing @Patrik Laine for that milestone.
Last Game (Apr. 16): 25 saves, 32 shots against, .781 save percentage
Following a bout with a non-COVID illness, goaltender @Connor Hellebuyck returned to practice Saturday and is expected to return from his two-game absence against Colorado on Sunday.
Considering Hellebuyck hasn’t played in over a week, he’ll surely be eager to retake the starting reins in net, however, back-up @Eric Comrie certainly performed well in his absence. In two starts, he stopped 73 of his 78 shots against, resulting in a .936 save percentage.
It stands to wonder what could’ve been had this goaltending duo received additional chances to play off each other, rather than having just the 2019-20 Vezina Trophy winner consume most of the starting opportunities.
Last time out versus the Avalanche, Hellebuyck was kept busy all night long as he faced 37 shots against. After allowing five goals – including the overtime winner – the 28-year-old will be determined to finish with a much-improved outcome in this showdown.
- Extending Pierre-Luc Dubois should be Jets’ top priority this off-season
- Scheifele, Perfetti expected to miss the remainder of 2021-22 season; Sanford won’t play Sunday
- Outlining three surprising developments from this season
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