Regarding the Jets during the past 3 years, the word we've heard time and time again is "consistency" - or lack thereof.
Not this year. The Jets haven't lost in regulation time for 7 straight games (5-0-2). They haven't lost in regulation against a team with fewer points in the standings since games 2 and 3 of the season, when they lost to the Los Angeles Kings and the San Jose Sharks.
Yes - let that sink in for a moment. The Kings and the Sharks have fewer points than the Jets right now.
The 2014-15 have been the model for consistency this year, at least in terms of team play. They've found a way to win, or at least get to overtime, against all but the top teams in the NHL this year.
Points baby, points.
And now the Jets have found the scoring touch that eluded them earlier in the season, with some quick shots and good bounces, along with the the speed and aggression that's becoming their trademark. They've lit the lamp 17 times in their last 4 games.
Game Time is 8:00 PM tonight, on TSN3 (TV) or TSN 1290 (radio).
(1) Secondary Scoring
Adam Lowry's 2 goal performance against the Dallas Stars was a big key for the Jets' victory on Tuesday night.
The Jets have relieved heavily on great early season scoring from the big 3 - Bryan Little, Andrew Ladd and Blake Wheeler. They've each accumulated 20 points or more.
Among the secondary scoring, Dustin Byfuglien is fourth in team scoring, but 4 of his 15 points were earned playing defence during the past 3 games - not to mention his scoring from the point on power plays. In terms of "pure" forward point totals, Michael Frolik has 12, Evander Kane has 10, as do Mark Scheifele and Mathieu Perreault. The "big 3" have roughly twice as many points. If the Jets are going to continue their winning ways, they'll need some secondary scoring from these players - like Adam Lowry Tuesday night.
In recent games, the Jets defensemen have had great production, especially from Byfuglien and Jacob Trouba.
(2) How about that Jets power play!
The much maligned Jets power play is 3 for 10 in the last 2 games, after changing to an "umbrella" scheme, with the number one unit of Little, Ladd, and Wheeler, and Perreault and Byfuglien on the point. If they can continue with their recent success, this will be a HUGE help to the Jets' scoring.
(3) Keep up the good work
It looks like they might have finally solved 2 of their early season headaches (see above). If they can keep up their sound puck possession and solid goaltending, then this really could be a Jets season to remember. The Jets are 11th in the NHL in 5 on 5 Corsi %, which reflects their solid control of the play in hockey games this year. The Jets are 6th in the NHL for team save percentage.
(1) Make a save, man!
Colorado is not a good puck possession team. Not last year (25th in NHL in team 5v5 Corsi%), and not this year (23rd). They're good shooters (9th in NHL this year for team shooting %, 2nd overall last year). Where they've fallen out of the sky this year is between the pipes. They're a high wire trapeze act without a net underneath to catch them when they fall.
Semyon Varlamov was their ace last year, with a sterling .927 save percentage. But his only similar year (over .920) in the NHL was with Washington in 2010-11. And this year he's had recurring groin injuries, which might explain his drop-off from last season (he's .909 this year). Anyway, he's currently out with the groin injury.
Among the back-ups, Reto Berra hasn't really got the job done (.882 save percentage). But Calvin Pickard has made the most of his opportunities, with a .929 save % and a 2.30 goals against average (5 starts and 3 relief appearances).
Given the Jets' lack of puck luck (at least until lately), one of the keys to this game will be what happens when the Jets launch shots at the Colorado net. It isn't Christmas yet. No gifts for the Av's goaltenders, please.
(2) Get the puck out!
Colorado's defence corps is frequently cited as an issue for the Avalanche. Too often, it's like an "avalanche" - and they're under it. The only defensemen with a positive +/- are former Jet Zach Redmond (+4), and Nate Guenin (+1). The Av's have been missing Brad Stuart and Ryan Wilson on defence (injured). Nick Holden is a whopping -16, and Jan Heyda is -10. Although Tyson Barrie (D) leads the team in points (20), he's also in the red at -4.
(3) Beauty and the Beast
Colorado has some skilled players (Matt Duchene, Nathan MacKinnon, Jarome Iginla, Alex Tanguay, Gabriel Landeskog, Ryan O`Reilly). The Winnipeg Jets have been successful this year because they've been willing to "win ugly". More of that "beast", please. If the Jets take a few seconds to admire the beauty of the game, they might be admiring a beautiful loss.
Player to Boo Mercilessly
Maxime Talbot. The Jets need to avoid taking penalties against agitators. Let's help the Jets by doing all the jeering for them.
The Jets will win ugly, playing that classic hockey road game. Winnipeg 3, Colorado 2, in regulation time.