Your Winnipeg Jets (16-17-2), fresh off of keeping Pittsburgh off the scoreboard, are now tasked with doing something similar against the NHL's former gold standard, the Detroit Red Wings (18-11-7). Detroit finds themselves smack dab in the middle of the Atlantic's five competitive teams, good enough for third seed in the division at the moment. The Jets are third last in the Western Conference, and four points behind Colorado.
Catch the game tonight, 7:00 PM Central Time on FS-D, TSN3 and TSN 1290.
Keys to the Game: Winnipeg Jets
Downright Datsyukian: After a rough start to the season, the Red Wings have pulled themselves out of the league's fancy stat doldrums and are now flirting with top-10 status. Unsurprisingly, Pavel Datsyuk has been a rather large driver behind this ever since returning from injury. He's also on a bit of a tear at the moment, with 6 points in his last 6 games. The Winnipeg Jets managed to hold the fort against Pittsburgh's multipronged attack. They'll have to do the same tonight, while paying special attention to the still rather capable 37-year-old.
Score more goals: The Jets have very quietly scored just one goal in each of their last three games. Miraculously, only two of those games have been losses. While many a shrill voice has decried the league-wide lack of scoring, we haven't quite hit regular 1-0 levels. The injury to Mark Scheifele has caused a mildly horrific domino effect across the forward corps, but it might also provide opportunity. Who, if anyone, will step up to fill the void? Or are Little, Wheeler, Perreault and Byfuglien all we can count on at the moment?
Bryan Little today, Bryan Little tomorrow, Bryan Little forever:
Keys to the Game: Detroit Red Wings
Spelling Petr Mrazek: With Jimmy Howard slated to start rather than Petr Mrazek, Winnipeg finds themselves with the more favourable goalie matchup for the second straight game. Having said that, Howard will be looking to redeem himself tonight after allowing 3 goals on 6 shots in his last start. The Red Wings can reasonably expect a bounceback performance.
I asked for hot wings, not mild: Pavel Datsyuk is running pretty hot at the moment. These Red Wings are not. Tomas Tatar and Gustav Nyquist both have just 1 point in their last 6 games and 2 in their last 9. Soon-to-be $4.25 million dollar man Justin Abdelkader has 2 in his last 7. Darren Helm is Darren Helm. Together they constitute four important pieces of Detroit's top-nine, and it would be in the team's short and long-term interests to see them warm up a little.
Datsyukian shot: Not every goal Pavel Datsyuk scores features a deke from the ages. Sometimes, a simple shot from the slot will do nicely:
Player to Boo Mercilessly
Dylan Larkin, for having a significantly better rookie season than Nik Ehlers.
The Winnipeg Jets continue their streak of scoring just one goal per game, though it's mostly Jimmy Howard's fault and at least Nikolaj Ehlers is the one who scores.
Jets lose 3-1.