The Winnipeg Jets welcome the Minnesota Wild to town this afternoon for a rare matinée game. The Jets, owners of a 10-11-3 record, will be looking to get back in the win column after losing three straight, including a 2-1 loss at the hands of the Wild in Minnesota. The Wild, meanwhile, come into this game scorching hot, boasting a 14-5-4 record and 8-1-1 streak in their last 10 games.
The Jets will be starting Ondrej Pavelec in net tonight. After a rocky start to the season, Pavelec has been much better of late, continue to struggle with injuries on the blue line, with solid showings - and four wins - in his last six starts; the lone recent blemish came against the defending champion Chicago Blackhawks Thursday night. The Wild will counter with Josh Harding, who has been spectacular to the tune of a .939 SV% and 1.48 GAA so far this season.
On defense, the Jets continue to struggle with injuries, but with last change at home, Claude Noel and Charlie Huddy may be able to limit the bleeding.
Keys to the Game - Winnipeg Jets
Get Kane Going - Jets' forward Evander Kane hasn't scored a goal since October 26th, a streak that's lasted 10 games and 31 shots on goal. While the Jets' depth scorers have picked up the slack in an admirable fashion, it's unlikely that they can keep it up over the long run; the Jets simply don't have the depth to do it. Kane is one of this team's top goal scorers, and they need him to play that way.
- Utilize last change - With injuries on the blue line, the last thing the Jets want to see tonight is Adam Pardy and Zach Redmond taking on the likes of Mikko Koivu and Zach Parise. The Wild have are a top-heavy bunch, and with last change at home the Jets ought to be able to dictate the defensive matchups
- Stay out of the box - I feel like a broken record saying this, but the Jets need to stop taking penalties. Dustin Byfuglien leads the NHL in minor penalties (by a healthy 20% margin), and Evander Kane is tied for 6th. As a team, the Jets lead the NHL in time spent on the penalty kill. That's no way to win hockey games.
Keys to the Game - Minnesota Wild
- Hard to beat Harding - When you have to actually look up the last time that your goalie let in more than three goals, that's a good sign. Harding has been tough to beat this season, and if he continues his strong play, the Wild will be tough to beat too.
- Play on the power play - As mentioned above, the Jets take a boatload of penalties. Two boatloads. Maybe three. The Jets are susceptible to taking bad penalties, and the Wild have the sort of players that could put them on the power play all day long.
- Secondary scoring - The Wild's top three scorers - Mikko Koivu, Zach Parise, and Jason Pominville - have scored 47% of this team's goals. The Wild's top players will be dangerous as always, so if the Wild can get offensive contributions from unlikely sources, they stand a good chance to win.
Player to boo mercilessly
Ryan Suter. He is the engine that makes this car go.