The Winnipeg Jets face a familiar former divisional rival, coach Paul Maurice faces his old team and Hockey Related Ron Hainsey gets the opportunity to score more goals against the Jets than he did for the team over the last two seasons.
Both sides will be looking at a glut of familiar faces, both sides are surging and both sides are looking for points.
Keys to the Game
Oh What Khudobin. On paper the Winnipeg Jets are the better team. They have better possession numbers, they score more, they have a better goal differential and are better on both special teams units. The Canes hold a slight edge in goals against - mostly due to goaltending. Anton Khudobin has been white hot and is coming off a player of the month award. The Jets need to find a way to beat him repeatedly if they want to leave with a victory.
Eric or Jeff? Eric Stall has carried this team for years and he is once again their leading point getter, but Jeff Skinner is actually leading the Hurricanes in per game scoring. This creates a dilemma for the Jets as Stall and Skinner play on different lines. The Jets need to figure out which line deserves the most attention and sick Andrew Ladd, Byran Little and Michael Frolik on them.
Will Scheifele Staal? Super Rookie Mark Scheifele's possession numbers have taken a steep down turn of late. This has been somewhat masked by the fact that he is still scoring, but it is something to watch. Opposing teams are giving Scheif tough matchups and he isn't quite winning them yet. Scheifele will need help from his linemates to keep his two-way game rolling - problem is Wheeler is a gambler and Chris Thorburn is largely a disaster. Three scoring lines have powered this team under PoMo, they need Scheifele and Co to have another strong showing.
Figure Out Which Jet is the Jettiest. Since moving Dustin Byfuglien to forward the Winnipeg Jets have had 3 different lines contributing on the score sheet. There is no way of knowing who will be rolling tonight. With last change Carolina will have their pick of who to shut down. They need to exploit this advantage.
Is Jordan Better? Jordan Staal is one of the best shut down centres in the NHL. That said, historically the line of Andrew Ladd, Bryan Little and Blake Wheeler has given him fits. That line doesn't exist any more. Who will Jordan face? Will it be Scheifele? How will he fair? Odds probably favor Staal if that is the match-up. This match up may decide the outcome of the game.
Hainsey Scores Goals. Some may cringe hearing this, but the loss of former Winnipeg Jet Ron Hainsey was a major factor in the Jets' early season struggles. Over his career, Zach Bogosian had been at his best when paired with HRR and it took Zach a while to figure out how to play without Ron. To compound the bitterness, Hainsey is scoring goals this year. He has 4 goals on the season, which is more than either Zach Bogosian or Mark Stuart. This is after scoring ZERO as a Jet. Ron logs big minutes in Carolina and they need another strong showing tonight.
Player to Boo Mercilessly
John-Michael Liles used to be a Leaf and the Leafs are stupid. Boo that man!