The Devils roll into town tonight to take on the Jets at MTS Centre. Winnipeg is coming off a seesaw affair in Minny; after being down 3-0 after 2, the Jets mounted a furious comeback in the third period, and won a moral victory with a 4-3 OT road loss. Tonight, they look to get their 3-game home-stand off to a good start. Puck drop is 7 pm Central.
Off the Mark – Jets sophomore Mark Scheifele is day-to-day with a knee injury. In his wake, Paul Maurice will be re-shuffling the lines, though it’s not clear exactly which combos he’ll be going with. (Check back later for updates). Blake Wheeler ended Sunday’s game on a line with Ladd and Little, so it’ll be interesting to see whether he stays there, or whether he goes back to play with Evander Kane, and perhaps Mathieu Perreault. While the Jets will certainly miss Scheifele, the silver lining is that, including today’s game, the Jets only play 3 in the next 7 days, which by NHL standards is almost a break in the schedule.
You've gotta be lucky to be good – How many goals against Minnesota were based primarily on luck? I’m going with…all of them. Frolik collects a puck in front of the net, and spins and fires a shot which narrowly misses Backstrom’s pad. Kane throws a backhand at the net, off Backstrom’s leg and in. Pardy throws a harmless shot wide left, Ladd deflects it in. While the Jets aren’t going to score 3 fluky goals every game, with all the chances they’ve been getting, and posts they’ve been hitting, one might say they were simply regressing to the mean in Sunday’s third period.
Hitching your wagon to Hutch: Let’s review his recent stretch of games – Chicago – 33 save shut-out; Carolina - 1 goal against, off Stuart’s foot; Minnesota – 2 periods of shut-out hockey in relief, followed by a screened shot in OT which found the back of the net. Hutchinson has made all of 0 mistakes in his past 8 periods of hockey, and allowed only 2 goals on the past 72 shots. How about you throw this guy a bone? I’d like to see him get every third start.
New Jersey Devils
Devils and the Shoot-out: The last time these teams met, the Jets became part of history. That’s because the Devils were riding a 19-game losing streak in shoot-outs. Yes you read that right – going back to last season, the Devils had lost NINETEEN STRAIGHT in the shoot-out. That ended when Jacob Josefson made a head-fake on Ondrej Pavelec and went top-cheese to earn a 2-1 win. I’m no statistician, but I’m guessing the odds of another 19-game losing streak are slim.
Corey is a busy boy: No goaltender in the NHL has played more than Corey Schneider. Schneider has started every single game for the Devils, and the results haven’t been great – a 2.71 G.A.A, and a .910 save %. Going into this season, he was leading the NHL in save percentage over the past 3 years at just under .930. Perhaps there’s a lesson in there, vis-à-vis Pavelec and over-use?
Local Talent on Display: The Devils boast a number of Manitoba products on their roster. There’s Bryce Salvador – a rugged veteran defenceman from Brandon; Damon Severson – an impressive rookie blueliner who was born in Brandon but grew up in Saskatchewan; and of course, Travis Zajac – a big, two-way centre who was born and raised in this fair city. You can bet that Zajac is the first Devil to be interviewed tonight, especially given the memories he’s sure to have of the early days of the MTS Centre.
Player to Boo Mercilessly
While the best player on this team is Corey Schneider, it’s hard to imagine boo’ing a former Moose stud, especially on the 10th anniversary of the MTS Centre. That leaves Jaromir Jagr. If you must boo, boo Jagr. With 1767 career points, I think he can take it.
The Jets dominated play last time they played in New Jersey; I expect the same tonight, only with a better result. 4-2.