The NHL shut it's doors for three days over the Christmas. The Winnipeg Jets were afforded a much needed break. In their last outing they were smashed by a garbage hockey team and enter this week hoping Santa brought them more success.
If the season ended today, both teams would be on the outside of the playoffs looking in, but their situations are very different. Minnesota was a playoff team last year and remains firmly in the mix. they currently sit just out of the playoffs. The Jets are in the midst of a free fall, going 3-6-1 in their last ten. They are not in the playoff picture and baring a minor miracle, they essentially dead in the water.
Keys to the Game:
Lol Defense. Apparently the Jets will be rolling with the following defensive pairings:
Keaton Ellerby - Dustin Byfuglien
Tobias Enstrom - Adam Pardy
Mark Stuart - Jacob Trouba
My goodness. A poor defensive unit now has zero D pairings that feature two NHLers. Pray.
Loltending. Ondrej Pavelec is 2-6-1 in December with a 3.57 GAA and a .872 sv%. It is hard to blame him for the Edmonton game, but he has been off in most of those other outings too. The Jets will need a strong showing in net, especially with the defensive pairings listed above.
Don't let the Wild put you to sleep. The Wild play boring hockey and they have largely been successful at stifling the Jets this season. Skating through the Neutral zone is like slogging through quicksand and the Winnipeg Jets dump and chase strategy has looked more like dumb and chase. Perhaps an adjustment from the coaching staff is in order.
Where are the goals go? The Minnesota Wild are scoring 2.13 goals per game. 28 teams are scoring more. The Wild well need to find the back of the net. I don't plan to draw them a map, hopefully nobody else does.
Backstrom stopper. Josh Harding is out. Nic Backstrom is in. While this is a hit for the Wild, but it hasn't always been that way. Nic has been one of the NHL's top performing goalies over the last bunch of years. The Wild will be hoping he can regain his old form and win win win tonight.
Die PIMs die! The Wild have been struggling on the penalty kill this season. They are only killing 78% of their penalties this season (27th in the NHL). Meanwhile the Jets powerplay is on a hot streak, so the Wild will want to keep PIM free or excel on the kill tonight.
Player To Boo Mercilessly
Ryan Suter - Because really, can you name another player on this team?