Winnipeg Jets at Washington Capitals Morning Skate: Who will win the special teams battle?

Marianne Helm

Winnipeg's powerplay has struggled mightily since capitalizing on its first opportunity of the year. Meanwhile, Washington's penalty kill was less than impressive in their season opening loss to Tampa Bay.

After Dustin Byfuglien launched an absolute bomb that's still screaming in Craig Anderson's left ear, the Winnipeg Jets' powerplay has gone terribly silent.

Despite ranking second in penalties drawn with ten -- a testament to their gritty forecheck and how they have driven the crease -- the Jets have gone 0/9 on the man advantage since Big Buff's heavy shot found twine.

Now, the point of contention shouldn't be that they aren't scoring at a higher frequently. Every NHL team will contend with the ebb and flow of consistency in their special team units throughout a season. You're not always going to score on one of four opportunities night in and night out.

More so, the lingering issue has been the fact Winnipeg isn't even registering shots on goal at this point. On Saturday, the Jets struggled with their zone entries and managed to muster only five shots on their six powerplays.

Yesterday, they were even worse, marking one shot on four opportunities.

That simply won't cut it if they hope to be thought of as a legitimate playoff-caliber team.

Granted, we're only two games into the season with plenty of time to correct the issues currently affecting the Jets. But when you realize that it took until the 79th game of the 2011-12 season for Winnipeg to be mathematically eliminatied from the playoffs, there's no denying that games in October (or in this case January) are as important as those down the stretch.

And considering Winnipeg's early struggles to put the puck in the net, an efficient powerplay is always a good way to break the floodgates open.

Fortunately, the Washington Capitals are a team who struggled opening night with the execution of their penalty kill. The end result was three Tampa Bay Lightning tallies on the man advantage, the ultimate difference in the Bolts' 6-3 win.

If the Jets bring their hard-working style of play to the District of Columbia and continue to draw penalties at a high rate, the Washington Capitals could be just the prescription to curing Winnipeg's special teams ailments.

And it should be noted that the team who wins the special teams battle usually wins the game.

Will it be Winnipeg or Washington who wins tonight's special teams battle? Let us know in the comments section below!

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