Nobody really knows what to expect going into tonight's game. The Jets will be playing their first game under a new coach and players will be auditioning for jobs all over again. We will be looking at new line combos and perhaps some new tactics on the ice. Will Paul Maurice be able to stop the bleeding - if just in the short term?
The Phoenix Coyotes are also going through a bit of a slump. They come to Winnipeg as losers of two straight and have gone 3-4-3 in their last 10. Their slump has knocked them out of a playoff spot. They are also looking for a turn around.
Keys to the Game
Find an identity: Noel was unable to do this over his two and a half seasons as the coach of the Winnipeg Jets, now Paul Maurice will give it a go. The Jets need to find some defensive structure. These last couple games have been a gong show.
Stop pucks: Ondrej Pavelec will start again. Pavi starts and stopping pucks have not been synonymous of late. The Jets will need a big game from Ondrej if they are going to have a chance of pulling out a win. 4, 5 or 6 goals against is really really really hard to overcome.
Thorn in Schiefele's side: It looks as though Mark Scheifele will start the game with Chris Thorburn on his wing. Is this part of the long term plan? Is this because Thor is an incumbent top 9 forward? Is this something that will be juggled? One way or another, Scheifele's development is a huge key for this team.
Pressure, pressure, pressure: The Jets defensive unit was a complete and utter mess sans Byfuglien. They will remain without Byfuglien. The Coyotes will be wise to pressure the D and try to force turnovers.
Goalies: Much like the Jets, the Coyotes incumbent starter Mike Smith hasn't been great this year (spoiler alert - it is because is isn't great). He hasn't struggled as much as Ondrej, but these things are relative. Meanwhile UFA pickup Thomas Greiss (many at AIH wanted the Jets to pursue him this offseason) has played really well. Regardless of who starts stopping pucks is important and the Jets are a decent offensive team.
Roll Them Lines: They Coyotes have a reputation of being a defense first hockey team. That doesn't really fit at the moment. The Yotes are currently 6th in scoring and 26th in goals against. Believe it or not, this game could be bit of a shoot out and as usual, the Jets depth players should be over matched.
Player to Boo Mercillously
Mike Ribeiro - Do I need to explain why you need to boo Mike Ribeiro?