The Winnipeg Jets (4-2-1) continue their homestand against a team we really don't like, the Minnesota Wild (5-1-1). The Jets are coming off a tough but predicted loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning, whereas Minnesota smothered the Anaheim Ducks 3-0 just yesterday. Last season, the Jets went 3-1-1 against the Wild, and it sure would be nice to match that record again in 2015-16.
Catch the game this evening on FS-N, FS-WI, TSN3 and TSN 1290 at 5:00 PM Central Time.
Keys to the Game: Winnipeg Jets
Hutch is Clutch: I still don't think goaltending was an issue the past couple of games, but the fact remains that Winnipeg allowed four goals in both instances. And so, enter Michael Hutchinson tonight against the Wild. Hopefully the Jets won't require greatness to win, but a league average save percentage or better would be good.
Keep Rollin', Rollin', Rollin', Rollin': Brace yourselves, I'm going to have a corsi moment here. While the Jets lost 4-3 against the Tampa Bay Lightning, they actually had a pretty good night #fancystat-wise. I'm a firm believer that turning this into a regular habit, as it was last season, would serve Winnipeg well moving forward. It certainly wouldn't hurt to keep the puck away from a fairly deep Minnesota Wild squad.
Play the Body: I know it's early in the season and yesterday was a cakewalk, but Minnesota did still play an NHL game yesterday. Let's look to exacerbate any bumps and bruises they may have acquired last night, while preferably staying within the rules of hockey.
Keys to the Game: Minnesota Wild
Spelling Devan Dubnyk: With Dubby starting yesterday, the net tonight belongs to Darcy Kuemper. His career has not always inspired confidence, and the Minnesota Wild need to know they can trust him to hold the fort when called upon. Given Dubnyk's contract, the starting gig in Minnesota is out of reach, but now wouldn't be a bad time to solidify his resume with an eye towards the future.
Stay Out of the Sin Bin: Most folks expect a physical affair tonight. It's the reason why Minnesota recalled Kurtis Gabriel from Iowa. But at 76.2%, the Wild's penalty kill has been less than stellar. Playing rough but clean will be key when facing a Winnipeg Jets squad which knows how to score on the power play.
Spread the Minutes: Playing in a back-to-back, Minnesota will need their fourth line to shoulder some of the burden and play meaningful minutes. Luckily for the Wild, Porter-Haula-Carter are reportedly coming off their best game of the season, to the point where the aforementioned Kurtis Gabriel may not even draw in. They'll need an equal if not better performance tonight.
Player to Boo Mercilessly
Darcy Kuemper. The "Dubnyk's better" chants practically shout themselves.
Winnipeg's improved fancy stats against Tampa Bay were the beginning of a trend, not a blip. The Jets win the even strength possession battle, get above average goaltending from Hutch and, despite some penalty trouble, win 3-1.