JGD 64.0: Post-Andrew Copp era begins as Golden Knights visit for another pivotal showdown (7:00 pm CT, TSN 3)
Photo credit:Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports
By Thomas Hall8 months ago
This season’s trade deadline has come and gone, although not without witnessing some changes to the Winnipeg Jets’ roster, mainly involving their bottom-six forward group.
In total, this franchise made six trades leading up to Monday’s 2:00 pm CT deadline, including one that sent forward @Andrew Copp to the New York Rangers. There’s no way to sugarcoat it, Copp’s presence will be missed in Winnipeg, especially inside the locker room.
Nevertheless, the Jets are still attempting to make a late playoff push, which currently sees them positioned four points outside the second wild-card seed in the West. Luckily, the Vegas Golden Knights – who own that final post-season spot – are coming to Canada Life Centre on Tuesday for one last meeting this season.
With a victory over Vegas, paired with a Dallas Stars loss to the Edmonton Oilers, Winnipeg would inch even closer to a playoff position, moving to within just two points of that spot. So yes, this should prove to be another action-packed thriller.
Needing to earn a crucial two points, here are three interesting storylines ahead of puck drop:
Appleton, Sanford Both Expected to Debut
Despite subtracting Copp from their roster, the Jets have added some reinforcements in the way of @Mason Appleton – who was claimed in the expansion draft by the Seattle Kraken – and @Zach Sanford.
While viewed as depth forwards, both should help fill the voids left by Copp and @Adam Lowry (COVID-19) on this club’s third line. For Appleton, the 26-year-old will attempt to replicate his breakout performance from last season, where he posted career-highs in goals (12) and points (25).
A newcomer to Winnipeg, Sanford, doesn’t provide much offensive upside as he’s scored just nine goals and 17 points in 62 games this season. Having said that, his 131 hits and 55 blocks should see his towering 6-foot-4, 207-pound frame bring some much-needed size to this group.
Since Lowry isn’t eligible to clear COVID-19 protocols until Friday, veteran @Paul Stastny – an impending unrestricted free agent – will shift away from the wing and centre this newly-formed line for at least the next couple of contests.
It’ll surely be interesting to watch this trio debut together during a pivotal matchup against the Golden Knights.
Top-Six Forward Adjustments
Considering Stastny is temporarily centring Winnipeg’s third line, the coaching staff has needed to re-adjust its top-six forward mix, sadly, which involves splitting up the impressive nuclear line.
Balancing out their line-up, forward @Nikolaj Ehlers has been bumped up next to teammates @Mark Scheifele and @Blake Wheeler on the top line. As a result, interim coach Dave Lowry has decided to reward @Evgeny Svechnikov with his strong performance by reuniting him with @Kyle Connor and @Pierre-Luc Dubois.
After largely operating as a one-line team lately, these changes – including the Stastny one – could provide the Jets with far more offensive productivity across all three lines. Even though this club has scored four goals or more over its previous four games, adding a reliable shooter like Ehlers to the first line could help make this scoring surge sustainable.
Importance of Scoring First/Scoring Often
One week ago, Winnipeg outdueled Vegas en route to a 7-3 victory, which saw them open the scoring with a pair of unanswered goals. This time around, capturing the first marker should hold a similar level of importance, especially against this opponent.
With goaltender @Robin Lehner injured, and @Logan Thompson making the start Monday, it’s expected to be another tilt against former Jet @Laurent Brossoit, who didn’t receive a warm welcome last time out. Shortly after allowing four goals on just 13 shots against, the 28-year-old was chased from his net, giving way to his teammate, Thompson.
Given how things played out last week, it’ll be crucial for the Jets to start strong out of the gate and generate plenty of pressure against their former netminder. With a 19-6-6 record when scoring first this season, capturing the opening goal would almost certainly improve their chances of coming away victorious over the Golden Knights.
But if there’s one thing this team struggles mightily with, it’s defending slim leads – or any advantage, quite frankly. Unless goaltender @Connor Hellebuyck suddenly receives substantial support from his defence, scoring frequently will be just as important as notching the game’s first marker.
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