The Winnipeg Jets are struggling. The skaters are struggling with the Xs and Os and the coaching staff continues to struggle with player usage. More frightening than the three game losing skid is how the team has looked - the Winnipeg Jets have been completely out-classed in each of their last three outings, they will aim to change that tonight versus the New Jersey Devils.
While things haven't been great for the Winnipeg Jets, the Devils haven't been much better. The Devils have a goal differential of minus-7 (tied for 24th in the NHL) and have yet to record a win on the season. That said, the Devils have managed to rack up three loser points and sit mid pack in terms of shot differential.
The Jets are in the midst of a 6 game home stand, the Devils are finishing up a 5 game road trip - both teams are hoping a win tonight will be something they can build off of.
Keys to the Game
Quick Start: This will likely show up in every preview until we actually see one. A first period lead would amazing and put some pressure on the offensively challenged Devils.
Goaltending: Al Montoya will get the start tonight after Ondrej Pavelec played back to back to close out last week. Big Al will need to play well to keep the Jets in the game - especially if puck possession doen't improve.
New Lines: Coach Claude Noel has hit the mix button on the line blender once again.
We will see the following top nine to start the game:
These new combinations will need to find some chemistry soon if the Jets are going to pull out a win.
Special Teams: The Jets powerplay has been working well accross the first 5 games, but the penalty kill has been worse than it was as the Jets closed out last season. There has been a lot of player turnover on the PK units. Big minute - and effective minute - PK players like Ron Hainsey and Alexander Burmistrov are out. Dustin Byfuglien and Jacob Trouba are being asked to take Hainsey's minute share. James Wright is taking most of Burmi's ice while new high priced defensive specialist Michael Frolik has received 0:00 minutes of PK time in multiple games this year. Whether the issues are related to personnel or the system, the PK must be fixed.
New Jersey Devils
Not So Special Teams: Much like the Jets, the Devils PK has struggled with goal prevention. The Devils powerplay has been struggling too. The Devils have been afforded a league low 10 powerplay opportunities and they have only scored one goal. Winning on special teams will go a long way towards locking up this game for New Jersey.
Creat Self-Doubt: The Winnipeg Jets players are not feeling great about themselves at the moment. Multiple Jets have talked about how they are overthinking things and struggling with the Xs and Os that the coaching staff has set out for them. The Devils need to capitalize on this and create more doubt early.
Challenge the D: The only Jets defenders that have looked remotely stable to start the season are Tobias Enstrom and Jacob Trouba. Putting pucks on the defenders and asking them to think fast is a recipe that has worked for others - why not give it a try.
Players to Boo Mercilessly
Michael Ryder cause why not?
Jets - 2
Devils - 0