JGD 39.0: Home sweet home (7:00 pm CT, TSN 3)
Photo credit:Terrence Lee-USA TODAY Sports
By Thomas Hall1 year ago
Oh, how good it must feel to finally play at home.
Prior to this upcoming tilt against the Florida Panthers, the Winnipeg Jets have spent the majority of January on the road, playing each of their last eight games away from Canada Life Centre. But now, this club is set to host its first homestand since Dec. 19.
Considering the Jets are currently riding a four-game losing streak, they could benefit from some home brewing right about now, especially after blowing a two-goal lead in just nine seconds during Sunday’s shootout loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins. In saying this, coming away victorious Tuesday likely won’t be easy while facing off against one of the top teams in the league.
With a 28-9-5 record on the season, the Panthers enter this clash tied for the most points (61) and own the second-best winning percentage (.726) in the Eastern Conference. Making matters even more challenging, they’ve also won seven of their previous 10 games and have outscored their opponents 47-26 during this impressive span.
So yes, unfortunately, the schedule isn’t about to become any easier for the Jets.
For a deeper breakdown of this matchup, let’s dive into three interesting storylines that could impact this contest between Winnipeg and Florida.
Dominic Toninato Believed to Have Produced False Positive, Second Test Comes Back Positive
Unable to escape COVID-19, the Jets placed two members in the NHL’s protocols Tuesday, forward @Dominic Toninato and assistant coach Charlie Huddy. However, Toninato’s first test was a false positive.
But after producing a second positive test, the 27-year-old will remain in isolation and won’t be cleared for this showdown against the Panthers. As a result, if symptomatic, he’ll be forced to quarantine for a minimum of five days before becoming eligible to return to the team.
Following this update, with Toninato unavailable, forward @Evgeny Svechnikov will draw in on the club’s fourth line. In turn, the 25-year-old will suit up for his first game since Jan. 20, pairing him next to teammates @Jansen Harkins and @Kristian Vesalainen.
Considering Svechnikov only received six shifts last time out, totalling just 3:26 minutes of ice-time, it’ll be very interesting to watch his usage during his 33rd game of 2021-22.
DeMelo, Stanley Both Remain Sidelined
Similar to Sunday’s contest against the Pittsburgh Penguins, the Jets will once again be shorthanded on defence Tuesday as both @Dylan DeMelo and @Logan Stanley remain unavailable.
For DeMelo, he’s set to miss a second straight game due to a lower-body injury. On an encouraging note, interim coach Dave Lowry described the 28-year-old as “day-to-day” following his team’s morning skate at Canada Life Centre.
As for Stanley, the 23-year-old remains sidelined with an upper-body injury and is slated to miss a third consecutive game. Unfortunately, Lowry confirmed that the towering 6’7″ blueliner is currently farther behind DeMelo in his recovery process, although he isn’t expected to require an injured reserve stint.
Without these two defencemen, @Dylan Samberg and @Nathan Beaulieu will remain in the line-up and paired together on the club’s third defensive pairing. Sadly, it doesn’t sound like @Ville Heinola will be activated from the practice squad before puck drop, however, that could potentially change with Toninato officially staying in COVID-19 protocol.
For now, here are Winnipeg’s projected defensive pairings:
@Josh Morrissey – @Nate Schmidt
@Brenden Dillon – @Neal Pionk
Samberg – Beaulieu
Jets Desperate For Much-Needed Victory
Thanks to Winnipeg’s current four-game losing skid, they’ve fallen farther away from a playoff spot in the Western Conference, which at this rate, their best bet appears to be competing for a wild-card seed.
Through 38 games, this franchise holds a 17-14-7 record and 41 points, placing them behind three organizations (Calgary Flames, Dallas Stars, San Jose Sharks) for the final post-season spot in the west. Now, given that 44 games remain in the regular season – 43 after Tuesday’s tilt – there’s still time for this team to make a run and surge back into contention.
But as the playoff odds currently stand, they’re starting to run out of time to turn this boat in the right direction (odds courtesy of Micah Blake McCurdy of HockeyViz.com).
With four games remaining until the mid-season All-Star break, it’ll be crucial for the Jets to head into their six-day hiatus – except for @Kyle Connor, who’ll be attending the league’s festivities – on a positive note. Sure, accomplishing that feat won’t be easy, especially since they’ll be playing four times in just eight days, but this upcoming stretch should test how they respond to adversity.
By the end of it, the front office will likely know just how prepared this team is to make a second-half surge towards the post-season.
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