It's back to back afternoon games for the Winnipeg Jets, as they travel to New Jersey for 4 P.M. CT showdown with the New Jersey Devils.
The Jets are coming off a disappointing 5-3 loss at the hands of the Philadelphia Flyers yesterday that saw their special teams turn in an abysmal effort, as the power play failed to score on 4 opportunities and the penalty kill conceded 3 goals on 6 opportunities. This was the undoing for a club who otherwise played a strong game.
New Jersey is coming off a 5-1 loss yesterday, as Alexander Ovechkin and the Capitals beat them 5-1, with Ovie scoring his 11th career hat trick. The loss meant they slipped to second in the Atlantic Division, with the Penguins now leading the division.
Antti Miettinen will play his first game of the season, after a training camp injury has held him out of the lineup until this point. He slots in for the under-performing Kyle Wellwood, who has been limited to 2 assists on the season.
Ondrej Pavelec may not have appeared to have had a strong game if you looked at his numbers on Saturday, but 3 power play goals left him little chance to save those pucks, as wide open players, puck watching and screens made his job very difficult.
The Jets don't have to change much if they want to win. All they need is average special teams performances. Easier said than done with a power play that has failed to score on 21 consecutive chances. Not shooting, or missing the net when they do is part of the problem, but the Jets never seem to have the right formation on the ice, nor do the player selections make a ton of sense. (Ron Hainsey does not score goals, why is he out there?)
Keys to the Game:
- Put the special back in special teams: The Jets started the season hot on the power play, but have cooled off substantially and fallen to 21st overall with an efficiency of 15.2%. The penalty kill is dead last in the league at 67.9%, and needs to be better to keep the Jets in games.
- Discipline: When your team cannot for the life of them kill off penalties, the even strength team has to avoid taking stupid penalties. This means learning from mistakes on the soft interference calls and using your hand to do...pretty much anything. I don't like singling out players, especially when MSM loves doing that, but Evander Kane cannot put himself in the penalty box for 9 minutes a game. The team needs their best players on the ice, not in the sin bin.
- Beat The Legend: Martin Brodeur is in the top 3 in terms of greatest all time goaltenders. He will very likely be between the pipes this afternoon, as Johan Hedberg did the lifting for New Jersey yesterday. Brodeur is approaching his 41st birthday, but still puts up good numbers, sitting at .911 save percentage and 2.27 GAA on a team that is typically defense first. The Jets will have to be sharp to put pucks past him and his defensive crew.
New Jersey Devils
- David Clarkson: After a 30 goal season last year, Clarkson is once again filling the net for the Devils, with 10 goals in his first 18 games, despite going dry for the past 4. The Devils need him, as well as their depth scoring, to contribute more to give support to the defensive unit that has given the NHL fits for years.
- Patrik Elias: I would say that Elias is having a return to form in his 17th season as a Devil, but his form has never tailed off. With 21 points in 18 games, he is the only player for New Jersey averagingmore than one point per game, and can still distribute the puck as good as any elite passer in the game.
- Special teams: Surprisingly, for a team lauded for its defensive prowess, this team sits 23rd in penalty kill at 77.2%. I'd say that's something the Jets can take advantage of, but since Tobias Enstrom went down it seems like 2 minutes of wasted time and missed opportunities for Winnipeg. Hopefully that pattern can be reversed against a weaker penalty kill.
Player to boo mercilessly:
Ilya Kovalchuk. For once, you can actually say there can be bad blood between the franchise and this player, for all you people who still think these are the Atlanta Jets.
New Jersey 3 - F (SO)