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Game #40 Preview: Winnipeg Jets at Nashville Predators

Tonight, the Winnipeg Jets bring their records of 7-14-1 on the road and 3-10-0 against divisional opponents to Bridgestone Arena.

Frederick Breedon/Getty Images

Your Winnipeg Jets (18-19-2) continue their road trip of sadness against the Nashville Predators (19-13-7), who are 4 points clear of Colorado for the second wild card spot. The Perds have had a middling last 10 games, running at a 4-4-2 clip, but even that compares favourably to Winnipeg's 4-6-0 equivalent.

As per's Nashville preview, tonight "is the 28th meeting all-time between these two clubs. The Preds have points in nine of their last 13 games against the Jets franchise (9-4-0), and have an overall record of 16-8-4 against them." That bodes well.

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

Keys to the Game: Winnipeg Jets

Nikolaj "Totally Wouldn't Have Benefited from the World Junior Championship" Ehlers: Remember when Ehlers scored that empty netter against San Jose? It remains his only point since December 2nd against the Toronto Maple Leafs, a stretch of 1 point in 13 games. Especially if Ehlers is now skating beside Perreault and Scheifele, Winnipeg needs him to rediscover some semblance of point production. With a little luck, his 6.3 shooting percentage will prove unsustainably low.

From Weakness to Strength: After Michael Hutchinson allowed 4 goals against and posted a .886 SV% against the Ducks Sunday, the Winnipeg Jets will go back to the one and only Connor Hellebuyck tonight. In his 12 game NHL career, the giant American rookie has a 8-4-0 record and stellar .929 SV% while playing behind the same Jets defence. With him in net, it somehow seems unlikely that the Predators will pop in seven tonight.

Cool as a Cucumber: Speaking of popping in seven, I'm sure the Winnipeg Jets haven't forgotten the 7-0 thrashing they received at the hands of Nashville on November 14th. I'm also sure that these Winnipeg Jets are a bunch of morons when it comes to taking stupid penalties. They should put any thoughts of revenge on the backburner; winning a game against a Central Division opponent is of greater importance. The Jets are currently 3-10-0 against their divisional rivals.

Keys to the Game: Nashville Predators

A Balanced Defence: It goes without saying that Roman Josi and Shea Weber constitute the Predators' top-pairing. But Nashville's other defenders are far from bumps on the log, and recently it's been the Ekholm - Ellis pairing posting points and generally making a menace of themselves. Together, the Nashville d-corps has contributed 99 points on the season. By comparison, Winnipeg's top-six defenders have posted 62. Remarkable how a deep blueline can at least partially make up for a mediocre forward corps.

The Fisher King: After missing 11 games with a lower-body injury, the Predators haven't exactly eased Mike Fisher back into the lineup, having played over 21 minutes in 2 of his 4 games since returning. With that said, while Fisher is far from a fancy stat liability (though few are on this Nashville squad), injuries and age may be catching up to the 35-year-old's point production.

With just 5 goals and 8 points in 28 games on a perfectly reasonable 12.5 shooting percentage, he may be finally fading into a definitive 3rd line role after years of being a 2C/3C tweener. It's not been for lack of minutes; Fisher ranks 3rd among Preds forwards in ATOI, behind only Filip Forsberg and James Neal. No longer centring some of Nashville's better winger options, the Preds must hope Fisher's decline has a floor, in order to make any noise in this year's playoffs.

Far from Impekkable: Long story short, the Preds need more from their 33-year-old 7 million dollar man. While he may sport a perfectly respectable 16-11-6 record, Rinne's overall save percentage is a below average .909. His even-strength save percentage of .922 finds him rubbing shoulders among the Ryan Millers and Linus Ullmarks of the world. Even Ondrej Pavelec has a .924 EV SV%.

Player to Boo Mercilessly

Roman Josi, for being the complete package of awesome ability and incredible contract. His All-Star caliber game and $4,000,000 cap hit must be booed mercilessly.


After posting the first 3-on-3 OT win in franchise history Saturday against Carolina, Nashville will proceed to lose one in extra time.

Jets win 3-2.