The Jets wrap up a quick two-game home stint tonight
against the Pittsburgh Penguins. The Jets are looking to continue their recent
run of success, which includes six wins in eight games and points in six
straight games.
This will be Winnipeg’s last game at the MTS Centre for
the roughly the next two weeks as they head on a five-game road trip, starting
this Saturday.
Pittsburgh unsurprisingly has been one of the best teams
in the NHL, sitting atop the Metropolitan Division with a record of 8-2-1.
Tonight is the first meeting of two meetings between
Winnipeg and Pittsburgh this season. Last season the Pens won both games
against the Jets, while Winnipeg have defeated the Pens just twice in eight
games since moving from Atlanta.
Lines provided by Daily Faceoff
Jets Forwards
It appears that the Jets have found their consistent
lineup going forward. This is the third straight game where all the lines
remained unchanged.
Today I’m going to focus on Winnipeg’s centres because
tonight is going to be one of their most difficult tests this season. Little,
Scheifele, Lowry and Slater will have to be on their game tonight on the
faceoff dot if they hope to give the Jets a shot in tonight’s game.
Eventually Matt Halischuk is going to draw back into the
lineup, I’m not too sure when though.
Jets Defence
Jets netminder, Ondrej Pavelec has been Winnipeg’s best
player in the past week, allowing just 2 goals in his past three starts and had
has turned away 88 of 90 shots faced in those games.
The Jets defence looked strong in their game versus
Nashville on Tuesday, they started skating with the puck more and were able to
keep a high scoring offence to just one goal in a 3-1 victory.
I’m excited to see how the pairing of Mark Stuart and
Jacob Trouba will fair against the likes of Crosby, Kunitz and Malkin. Tonight
will be a true test to their skill.
Penguins Forwards
Pittsburgh has the best player in the league right now and
he has started this season right where he left of last year. Crosby currently
leads the league in points with 19, (7g, 12a) in 11 games played.
But he isn’t the only offensive threat in the Pen’s
arsenal; Evgeni Malkin is tied for third in scoring with 16 points (5g, 11a).
The Jets are going to have to shut down the top two lines
in tonight’s game, but that might not even stop Pittsburgh’s scoring. That
third line, centered by Brandon Sutter could breakout and have a strong game in
Penguins Defence
Fresh off his new four-year deal, Marc-Andre Fleury starts
between the pipes tonight for the Penguins. Fleury is starting to look like his
old self, tied for the league lead in shutouts with 3 and posting a 7-2-0
record with a 1.89 GAA.
The Pittsburgh defence is without one of their young standout
defencemen, with Olli Maatta out of the lineup for the next few weeks.
I know people say that +/- is a garbage stat, but when a
team has three players (Martin, Ehrhoff and Despres) with a +6 at this point in
the season, it’s something worth noting about this defence.
Game Day Prediction: As much
as I hope the Jets can pull off the victory against Pittsburgh, I don’t see it
happening tonight. I think Pavelec plays another strong game and gives Winnipeg
a chance two win, but Penguins take it 3-2 in a shootout.
Obvious Prediction: Sidney Crosby adds a
goal and an assist to his running total this season, putting him up to 21
Not So Obvious Prediction: The Jets
fourth line earn their first points of the season on a nifty passing play that
culminates in a goal going in off Thorburn’s skate.