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Game #49 Preview: Arizona Coyotes at Winnipeg Jets

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The Winnipeg Jets look to avoid the four-game losing streak and end January on a winning note. Also, it's Dustin Byfuglien All-Star poster night.

Bruce Fedyck-USA TODAY Sports

Your Winnipeg Jets (21-24-3) continue their playoff death spiral tonight against the ahead of schedule Arizona Coyotes (24-19-5). You may remember Arizona from Dec. 31st's 4-2 loss, in a performance highlighted by Louis Domingue and Shane Doan. The former made 35 saves for a .946 SV%, while the latter surpassed Dale Hawerchuk's all-time franchise record of 379 goals:

The Jets 2.0, being a franchise comfortable with the special relationship Arizona and Winnipeg have, were ready with their Twitter acknowledgement:

#NeverForget, and certainly nobody tell them how Doan is also four points away from tying Hawerchuk's all-time franchise record of 929.

Catch the game tonight, 7:00 PM Central Time on FS-A, TSN3 and TSN 1290.

Keys to the Game: Winnipeg Jets

Limping into the All-Star Break, Pt. 1 - The Injuries: Mark Scheifele's back in the lineup, but the hockey gods giveth and the hockey gods taketh away. Adam Lowry remains out, Bryan Little is a game-time decision and Mathieu Perreault has apparently retired and/or transcended to another plane of existence:

While top-line Nikolaj Ehlers and top-six Joel Armia are reasons for excitement, this isn't exactly what I had in mind:

The drop-off from top-six to bottom-six is, in a word, brutal. The good news is that despite their record, the Arizona Coyotes are not very good at NHL hockey. At 5v5, they average the second lowest Shots For per 60, the seventh highest Shots Against per 60 and the fifth worst Corsi For %. This is a team even the hobbled Jets should be able to match, if not surpass, for 60 minutes.

Limping into the All-Star Break, Pt. 2 - The Record: The bad news is that the month of January has been mediocre at best and miserable at worst. In the first month of 2016, they've dropped games against such juggernauts as Buffalo, Colorado, and most recently, Lee Stempniak's New Jersey Devils. Winnipeg's overall record in January is 4-6-1. They are just two points above Edmonton for last in the Western Conference.

Winnipeg's slew of injuries have taken their toll on the offence. The Jets have scored just one goal in four straight games and five of their last six. Those four goals in four games have either come from the makeshift top-six (EhlersArmiaWheeler) or Dustin Byfuglien (Dustin Byfuglien).

Even if at full strength this was a playoff team over the course of 82 games, that is no longer the reality. With ten points and four teams between Winnipeg and the second Wild Card seed, the time is now to think about 2016-17, and beyond.

Keys to the Game: Arizona Coyotes

It's Louis Domingue's world, Mike Smith and Anders Lindback just live in it: Louis Domingue has been a minor miracle for the Arizona Coyotes. Currently sporting a 9-4-3 record and .931 SV%, the once-third stinger's play has been better than Arizona might have expected from either of the goalies they started 2015-16 with. I'm still wary of Domingue as a long-term starter solution, but the idea of his remaining hot for the season's remainder is eminently believable. And of course, despite playing yesterday, the Winnipeg Jets will again face their New Year's Eve nemesis.

Playoffs for the Winnipeg Jets (1.0): If trajectories continue as they currently are, Arizona will be in the playoff mix right to the bitter end. They currently sit in the Pacific Division's third seed, two points ahead of Vancouver, four points ahead of Anaheim, and possessing a ROW advantage over both of them. With that said, San Jose is soaring and there has been an offensive awakening in Anaheim, both of which put heat on Arizona:

Should Domingue falter for even just a handful of games, it may be enough to snuff out Arizona's playoff hopes. No pressure.

Good luck: Wingers Tobias Rieder and Shane Doan are hot, with seven points in eight games and sixteen in sixteen, respectively. Stop them, bottom-six of Thorburn-Burmistrov-Halischuk and Cormier-Copp-Peluso.

Opposing Player to Make Feel Warm and Fuzzy

Mikkel Boedker, for being to some the ideal 2016 offseason Andrew Ladd replacement. It's time he's introduced to Sunny Winnipeg, beckoned with chants such as "We want Boedker" and "Boedker, sign here".

Prediction

Shane Doan scores, but it's about the only thing which goes right for Arizona. The Winnipeg Jets will end January on a winning note. Unfortunately, it will be the only game they win on this miserable homestand. Centre Blake Wheeler has a three point night.

Jets win 5-1. Many Dustin Byfuglien posters are given out: