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Game #10 Preview and GDT: Washington Capitals at Winnipeg Jets

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Winnipeg’s d-corps limps into tonight’s match against Ovechkin & Co.

NHL: Washington Capitals at Winnipeg Jets
The Jets d-corps may be hurting, but Washington’ll still have Big Buff to deal with.
James Carey Lauder-USA TODAY Sports

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.

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.

postma

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

Winnipeg Jets Projected Lineup

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
Left Defence
Right Defence
Josh Morrissey Dustin Byfuglien
Tobias Enstrom Paul Postma*
Julian Melchiori Ben Chiarot
Goaltenders
Connor Hellebuyck
Michael Hutchinson

Washington Capitals Projected Lineup

Left Wing Centre Right Wing
Alexander Ovechkin
Nicklas Backstrom Justin Williams
Marcus Johansson Evgeny Kuznetsov Tom Wilson
Andre Burakovsky Lars Eller T.J. Oshie
Zach Sanford Jay Beagle Brett Connolly
Left Defence
Right Defence
Karl Alzner Matt Niskanen
Dmitry Orlov John Carlson
Brooks Orpik Nate Schmidt
Goaltenders
Braden Holtby
Philipp Grubauer

*not Tyler Myers