The Winnipeg Jets will see if they can restart their winning streak tonight vs. a Washington Capitals squad off to a predictably strong start.
After falling 3-1 on Sunday to the Buffalo Sabres, Winnipeg now sits at 4-5-0 heading into the ten game mark. One would do well to describe the Jets as inconsistent; if there's consolation to be had, it's that Dallas and Nashville are off to even worse beginnings.
First Tyler Myers, and now Mark Stuart will be out of the lineup with a lower-body injury. As a result, Winnipeg has recalled 24-year-old Julian Melchiori from the Manitoba Moose, and he'll make his season debut either to the left or right of Ben Chiarot tonight.
In order to make room for Julian Melchiori on #NHLJets roster, RW Drew Stafford was placed on IR, retroactive to Oct. 25— Ken Wiebe (@WiebeSunSports) November 1, 2016
There's a condemnation of Winnipeg's defensive depth to be had, but let's take a glass half-full approach. The team was already icing a third pairing of Stuart-Chiarot; is Melchiori-Chiarot (or Chiarot-Melchiori) much of a step back from what would have otherwise dressed? Furthermore, we’ve been yelling #FreePostma for what feels like forever. Granted, this was largely in the context of moving him from the press box to the lineup, but there's something exciting about seeing Paul Postma get a top-four shot beside Toby Enstrom.
Is it ideal? No, of course not. With that said, the narrative on Postma has long been one of underutilization and underappreciation. Now is a prime regular season chance for him to show what he can do with greater opportunity.
After scoring in each of the season's first three games, Black Wheeler has zero goals and two assists over the last six tilts. As one of the anchor tenants on the first line, Winnipeg needs its captain to help drive the offence; Joel Armia can only do so much.
Connor Hellebuyck draws in after relieving Michael Hutchinson on Sunday. Aside from stopping the 13 shots he faced against the Sabres, Helle is coming off a 38-save performance vs. Dallas on Oct. 27. With a 2016-17 save percentage which has risen to .919 Sv%, another strong showing tonight may start the ball rolling on the net truly becoming Hellebuyck's to lose. He'll match up against Capitals starter Braden Holtby, who has a .917 Sv% this year and .928 career Sv% against Winnipeg.
Though behind the Pittsburgh Penguins and New York Rangers for tops in the Metropolitan, Washington has played one game fewer than both divisional rivals, and is off to a strong 5-2-1 start. Leading the way has been
Alexander Ovechkin Marcus Johansson. The 26-year-old Swede has nine points in eight games, with five of those coming over the last two games alone. Johansson has been a reliable contributor for Washington over the years, having cracked 40 points in four of his six NHL seasons, including the last three seasons. The more offensive pressure he and others can take off of Ovi and Nicklas Backstrom, the better.
Led by John Carlson, Matt Niskanen and Dmitry Orlov, the Capitals' d-corps is in a much better place than Winnipeg's. Carlson leads Washington blueliners with an ATOI of 23:47; Dustin Byfuglien, on the other hand, is averaging 28:36 TOI/GP. Both RFA Orlov and pending UFA Karl Alzner are likely lining themselves up for significant pay raises, but Washington is a contender and so that's a headache for the offseason. For now, head coach Barry Trotz and general manager Brian MacLellan will continue to reap the rewards of a solid 1 through 6.
When, Where & How
Tuesday, Nov. 01, 7:00 p.m. CT, MTS Centre
TV: TSN3, CSN-DC
Radio: TSN 1290
|Left Wing||Centre||Right Wing|
|Nikolaj Ehlers||Mark Scheifele||Blake Wheeler|
|Kyle Connor||Mathieu Perreault||Patrik Laine|
|Shawn Matthias||Adam Lowry||Joel Armia|
|Brandon Tanev||Alexander Burmistrov||Chris Thorburn|
|Josh Morrissey||Dustin Byfuglien|
|Tobias Enstrom||Paul Postma*|
|Julian Melchiori||Ben Chiarot|
|Left Wing||Centre||Right Wing|
||Nicklas Backstrom||Justin Williams|
|Marcus Johansson||Evgeny Kuznetsov||Tom Wilson|
|Andre Burakovsky||Lars Eller||T.J. Oshie|
|Zach Sanford||Jay Beagle||Brett Connolly|
|Karl Alzner||Matt Niskanen|
|Dmitry Orlov||John Carlson|
|Brooks Orpik||Nate Schmidt|
*not Tyler Myers