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It’s win or go home time for the Winnipeg Jets: round 1 game 5 game day

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Photo credit:© Terrence Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Connor Baldwin
1 month ago
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Here we go Jets fans. Game 5 is upon us, and it’s the 1st time this year where I have to say that this game could be the last for the Jets unless they get a win. I already tee’d up for you yesterday what the Jets need to do to force a game 6, so today I’ll be getting you set for game 5 tonight. Hopefully the Jets come to play today back at home in Winnipeg, where the Whiteout crowd will be rocking all night long.
The interviews with Coach Bowness and the Jets players have all shared a similar tone. They aren’t ready to give up yet, and they’re focused on taking the 1st step of the difficult task of coming back in this series. This morning, we got injury updates on Vladislav Namestnikov and Brenden Dillon. Namestnkiov suffered a fractured cheek bone in the 3rd period of game 4, and while he remained an option for game 5 tonight it appears that he won’t be in the lineup. Dillon suffered a deep cut on his hand at the end of game 3 and has been listed as day-to-day ever since. Dillon was another possible option to play in game 5 but it appears he won’t be in the lineup either tonight.
Who then would be inserted or removed from the lineup tonight? Rick Bowness faced several questions from the media about what changes the lineup would have in game 5, and judging by the projected lineup (listed at the bottom of this article) there are some notable changes. Nikolaj Ehlers moves up to the 1st line with Mark Scheifele and Gabe Vilardi, while Kyle Connor moves down to the 2nd line. You’ll notice another addition on line 2: Cole Perfetti. The fans have been asking for Perfetti to get a chance in the playoffs, and it looks like he’ll finally get a go on a line with Sean Monahan and Kyle Connor.
The 3rd line remains untouched, the shutdown line of Nino Niederreiter, Adam Lowry and Mason Appleton. The 4th line looks quite different from game 4 too. Axel Jonsson-Fjallby and the injured Vladislav Namestnikov are out of the lineup. David Gustafsson replaces Namestnikov at centre, Alex Iafallo shifts from the right wing to left wing, and Tyler Toffoli moves down from the 2nd line to the 4th line. It’s rather interesting to see Toffoli drop to the 4th line, but it’s probably best to have Perfetti, an offensive forward, on a scoring 2nd line than on a more defensive 4th line.
Taking a look at the back end, and the very solid 1st pairing of Josh Morrissey and Dylan DeMelo stays the same. The 2nd pairing of Dylan Samberg and Neal Pionk also remains unchanged as Brenden Dillon isn’t ready to return from his hand injury yet. Logan Stanley is out from the 3rd pairing, and coming in for him is Colin Miller, who has 40 playoff games of experience under his belt.
One thing that didn’t change, and hasn’t changed all series is the starting goalie. Connor Hellebuyck gets the start again in game 5, and he’s hoping that tonight is the night he shines brighter than ever. Hellebuyck hasn’t been his Vezina candidate self most of the series, although the team in front of him hasn’t done enough to help him out. Hellebuyck has faced the most shots and made the most saves of any goalie in the playoffs so far, after all.
The recent numbers don’t lie though when it comes to Connor Hellebuyck’s recent struggles in the playoffs. In Hellebuyck’s last 13 playoff games he has a record of 2-11 with 49 goals against. To go along with that very poor record, he has a 3.82 goals-against average and a .887 save percentage in those 13 games. That’s very less than ideal, especially when you consider that the Jets have averaged approximately 3 goals a game this series (inflated by the 7 scored in game 1). Look for Hellebuyck to be locked in tonight, and hopefully prove that he can perform on the big playoff stage.
Now that you’re all up to speed with the lineup tonight, what did coach Rick Bowness have to say about how the team is feeling this morning before likely their most important game of the season so far? Well, it seems that the vibes are good on this game 5 game day, and he said
“The guys are good, we just had a really good meeting with them. Talking to the guys a lot this morning, they all feel good. Listen, they know our best hockey, we haven’t played it yet, they know that. They know we need to play with more discipline, so we stay out of the penalty box. They know we need to score some more goals, they understand. But there’s not one guy in that room ready to call it a day and call the season over. So, I’m very confident that we’re going to see the A game from everybody tonight, there’s a great mood in the room.”
Elimination games can often bring the best out of players, because it’s the fear of having your season end that can drive anyone to play their best hockey. Everyone knows that the Jets still have a lot of room for improvement after the last 3 losses, so maybe the 4th time is the charm for putting their ideal gameplan into action. A disciplined team, some pucks in the net, and a mentality of let’s win this one will be the basic recipe for the Jets to have success tonight.
Game 5 puck drop in Winnipeg is at 8:30 pm CT. Hopefully this isn’t the last game day that I’ll be writing about this season, and I hope to see the Jets force a game 6 on Thursday. Bring the noise, bring the energy, and cheer on your Winnipeg Jets tonight in game 5!
Jets projected lineup
Ehlers – Scheifele – Vilardi
Connor – Monahan – Perfetti
Niederreiter – Lowry – Appleton
Iafallo – Gustafsson – Toffoli
Morrissey – DeMelo
Samberg – Pionk
Schmidt – Miller
Hellebuyck
Brossoit

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