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Preview: Jets Continue Eastern Swing in New Jersey

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After a poor start to the year the Winnipeg Jets have won three of the past four. They look to continue this success in New Jersey against former Manitoba Moose netminder Cory Schneider.

NHL active career scoring leader Jaromir Jagr (right) continues his seemingly endless career this year at age 42
NHL active career scoring leader Jaromir Jagr (right) continues his seemingly endless career this year at age 42
Bruce Bennett

The Jets have yet to start .500 or better in their first 10 games in any of seasons in Winnipeg, the Jets look to get buck that trend against New Jersey. Heading into home of the Devils on Halloween Eve seems like a poor omen for the team but the Devils have been just average to start the year. Despite being perhaps the oldest team in the league - lead by veterans Jaromir Jagr, Patrik Elias, Marek Zidlicky, Mike Cammalleri and Dainius Zubrus - the Devils have relied heavily on youth so far in this young season.

Adam Henrique is leading the team in points with eight in nine games. Surprising 20 year old defenseman Damon Severson (from Brandon, Manitoba) leads the defense with four goals and seven points. Cory Schneider is another in a long list of goalies struggling to open the year with just a .901 save percentage in nine games played.

The Jets are expected to be without Evander Kane and Zach Bogosian once again due to injuries although both are close to returning.  Patrice Cormier and Anthony Peluso are expected to be scratches again. Devils are without Martin Havlat, Jordin Tootoo, and Mike Cammalleri. 21 year old 2011 4th overall pick Adam Larsson has been a healthy scratch in eight of the Devils first nine games.

3 Keys to the Game

Winnipeg Jets

1) Secondary Scoring: Jets 2nd line of Mathieu Perreault - Mark Scheifele - Blake Wheeler have combined for just four goals and ten points so far this season. This is simply not enough for any team, nevermind one with question marks on the defensive side of the ice. It gets even worse when you consider the bottom six forwards have just three goals and four points, with Dustin Byfuglien alone accounting for two goals and three points. The other five (Adam Lowry, Chris Thorburn, TJ Galiardi, Jim Slater, and Matt Halischuk) have just one goal and zero assists combined. While the fourth liners are not expected to score much, you need every contributing to win in the NHL.

2) Use Size Effectively: Jets have a whole lot of size up front that they will need to use effectively against a smallish New Jersey defensive core. While players like Zidlicky, Andy Greene, Eric Gelinas, and Jon Merrill can move the puck well they are not very physical and the Jets can capitalize by winning battles deep in New Jersey end. Even down the middle Travis Zajac, Henrique, Elias, and Jacob Josefson are not particularly intimidating defensively.

3) Pavelec Conundrum: Pavelec needs to stop the puck. Quite simply. Breakdowns will happen, particularly with a bottom pairing of Adam Pardy and Grant Clitsome, but Pavelec needs to make that one or two important saves to keep his team in it.

New Jersey Devils

1) Use Last Change: The Jets have a real depth problem so Devils head coach Peter DeBoer needs to take advantage of that. Getting Jagr out on the ice against Jets 3rd or 4th line with Pardy - Clitsome pairing for an offensive zone faceoff would be almost a guaranteed goal for the Devils.

2) Clog Neutral Zone: Jets thrive on plays off the rush. Devils need to slow down the Jets speedy forwards through the neutral zone forcing dump ins where their puck moving D can move the puck back out quickly. Jets can struggle if they can't generate offense off the rush.

3) Avoid the Shootout: Devils are 0-14 in shootouts in the past two seasons and 2-21 over the past three years. Not exactly their strength.

Player to Boo Mercilessly

Jaromir Jagr. Because we've never forgotten that awful mullet.

Prediction

Devils 3, Jets 0. Schneider finds his game just in time for the Jets.