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Preview & GDT - Jets vs Panthers

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The Florida Panthers are in town to face the Winnipeg Jets.

Bruce Fedyck-USA TODAY Sports

After a humbling defeat at the hands of the Edmonton Oilers on Sunday night, the Winnipeg Jets (13-16-3) flew home with tiredness on their minds. After all, here's a team that had some players in the largest tournament of them all (The World Cup of Hockey), a compressed schedule (23 games in 41 nights over the month of November and the first week in December), inconsistent goaltending from Helly & Hutch and play in Burmistrov, Stafford, Chariot & Postma,  and a handful of injuries or contract disputes with staple players (Matthias, Perreault, Scheifele, Little, Armia, Myers, Trouba),  all of which permeated the team.

The reinforcement corps who came in handled the pressure and the responsibility well (Dano, Copp, Petan). The group of Wheeler, Ehlers, Laine, Morissey, Byfuglien and company tried to make the most of it. Sometimes they were successful, sometimes they weren't. New coaches in Kompon and Woodcroft have made suggestions and some changes have been made to the Jets style of play.  Penalties continue to plague the team. The power play improved, stalled, and improved again. The penalty kill, well, kills the Jets. Lines were juggled like a performer with the Barnum & Bailey circus...not the main attraction, but the sideshow no less, all in an effort to stimulate and bring about chemistry, in the hopes that something "clicks".

Then, Laine scored on his own net.

Dejected by what just occurred, Laine skates back to his own bench as he chewed on his mouthguard and tried to make sense of what just happened. A simple mistake brought on by instinct and muscle memory. A puck in the open ice and a clear shot to put it away. A ripper to the top shelf. Laine's body was in the game, but the mind wasn't. Ehlers and Hutchinson had their own gaffe a few games earlier. It happens to the best of them, and it hurts like bloody hell when it does happen.

Then, Paul Maurice pulls the plug.

Monday was a mandated CBA day off for the Jets. Tuesday was to be a practice day, one of which Maurice was looking forward to.  All aspects of the game needed tinkering and tuned up.  Some have called for Maurice's head on a platter. However there was an adjustment of plans, as the Tuesday practice was cancelled. Players get an extra 24 hours off. What ever system, play or plan that needs fixing can wait. The players needed to breathe, get grounded, recharge, and reflect.

Today marks a brief stretch, although not as hectic, as the Jets have 2 home games with 2 days rest between (if you consider the Dog N' Pony Show Skills Competition rest), then off to Vancouver on the 19th for two games on the 20th and 22nd. However, the short rink sabbatical may have done some good, and the Jets are focused on the future and forgetting the recent past...

When, Where & How

Winnipeg's MTS Centre

7pm CST

TV: TSN3, FN-S

Radio: TSN1290, WMEN

Winnipeg Jets Projected Lineup:

Ehlers-Scheifele-Wheeler

Perreault-Little-Laine

Tanev-Lowry-Stafford

Dano-Copp-Thorburn

Morissey-Byfuglien

Enstrom-Trouba

Chariot-Postma

Hellybuyck

Penalty Kill - 77.6%

Power Play - 15.1%

The Jets will play tonight against the Florida Panthers, a team struggling for a identity right now. Coming off a 5-1 loss against the Minnesota Wild on Tuesday night, the Panthers (13-13-4), it was announced that Dave Tallon will resume General Manager duties from Tom Rowe, who becomes the head coach full time. This comes on the heels of a very public firing of Gerard Gallant on November 27th.  Since the change at the coaching helm, the Panthers have gone 2-6, with their latest win coming a few nights ago against the equally struggling Vancouver Canucks.

Florida Panthers Projected Lineup:

Griffith-Barkov-Jagr

Jokinen-Trocheck-Smith

Marchessault-Bjugstad-Sceviour

Rau-McKenzie-Thorton

Yandle-Demers

Kindl-Ekblad

Pysyk-Matheson

Luongo

Penalty Kill - 84.8%

Power Play - 12.6%