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Game #68 Preview: Colorado Avalanche at Winnipeg Jets

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Bruce Fedyck-USA TODAY Sports

Your Winnipeg Jets take on a talented, terrible Colorado Avalanche squad, one which is incredulously fighting for a playoff spot.

At 3-2-0, it's been a decent March for Colorado, though one of those losses crucially came against the Minnesota Wild. The two Central Division rivals are currently duking it out for the 2nd Wild Card spot: Colorado currently owns 74 points after 69 games played, the Wild two points back with a game in hand. A tie would currently break in the Avs' favour, as they have 32 Regulation/Overtime wins (AKA "ROW") over Minnesota's 30.

A Winnipeg victory would put Colorado behind the playoff eight ball, but it would also help the Minnesota Wild. This is a tough spot for Jets fans.

Catch the game tonight, 6:00 PM Central Time on City, ALT2 and TSN 1290.

It's a Numbers Game

Colorado Avalanche

Winnipeg Jets

Record

35-30-4

27-35-5

Division-Conference-League

5th-8th-17th

7th-14th-29th

Last 10 - Streak

6-4-0 - W2

2-7-1 - L3

Goals For / Game

2.65 (15th)

2.55 (20th)

Goals Against / Game

2.83 (21st)

2.96 (26th)

Shots For / Game

28.8 (23rd)

29.7 (17th)

Shots Against / Game

32.1 (29th)

29.7 (14th)

5v5 Corsi For %

43.8% (30th)

51.8% (9th)

5v5 Shooting %

7.58% (13th)

7.02% (20th)

5v5 SV %

92.87% (14th)

92.10% (23rd)

Power Play %

19.3% (12th)

15.3% (30th)

Penalty Kill %

81.7% (11th)

78.5% (24th)

PIM / Game

09:24 (17th)

12:06 (27th)

When it comes to controlling play at 5v5, the Avalanche are worst in the NHL and it's not even close. Colorado's Corsi For% of 43.8% is nearly three percentage points back of 29th place New Jersey. Remarkably enough, it still constitutes an improvement over last season's numbers, however slight.

If there's one area where the Avs are definitively decent, it's their special teams. Alongside a strong supporting cast, Tyson Barrie scores more power play points per 60 than players such as Tyler Seguin, Filip Forsberg and Corey Perry. Meanwhile, their 11th ranked penalty kill is missing one of its better (if lesser used) options in Gabriel Landeskog, although new acquisition Shawn Matthias should help out in that respect.

Speaking of special teams, there is good news and bad news for Jets fans. The good news is Winnipeg's PK has finally dragged itself out of the bottom five, and is now apparently better than what teams such as the Chicago Blackhawks, New York Rangers and Minnesota Wild have to offer. The bad news is, Winnipeg also owns the worst power play in the league. You win some, you lose some.

A Subpar Semyon

Semyon Varlamov

Ondrej Pavelec

Record

24-17-3

7-11-2

Overall SV%

.916%

.902%

ES SV%

.923%

.916%

PP SV%

.866%

.854%

While it's still significantly better than what Michael Hutchinson has to offer, Ondrej Pavelec's even strength save percentage currently ranks 48th out of 59 goalies who have played at least 15 games. At .916%, he's tied with unfavourable bedfellows Keith Kinkaid and Cam Ward.

On the other hand, Semyon Varlamov's .923 EV Sv% ranks 34th, an adequate if underwhelming number. Varlamov's performance this season constitutes a fair improvement over last year's .916%, though is itself a step back from the .933% he posted in 2013-14.

He's coming off a 1 GA, .974 SV% effort against Arizona on Monday, followed by a Wednesday shutout versus the Anaheim Ducks. Combined with his 3-1-0 record and .928 SV% against Winnipeg this season, the Colorado starter looks to be in good shape heading into tonight.

Then again, Varlamov hasn't exactly been a model of consistency in 2015-16, so perhaps there'll be a six goal blowout tonight:

Holden On To You

Francois Beauchemin

Tobias Enstrom

Games Played

69

67

Goals - Assists - Points

7-24-31

2-13-15

Power Play Points

2

1

Shooting %

6.6%

4.3%

TOI / Game

25:16

20:34

PP TOI / Game

02:18

01:12

SH TOI / Game

03:33

01:29

5v5 Corsi For RelTM%

-2.3%

-0.8%

5v5 Penalty Differential

-8

-8

Colorado's d-corps is nothing to write home about. Led by Francois Beauchemin, Erik Johnson, Nick Holden and Tyson Barrie, Colorado's top-four are on the receiving end of more rubber than almost every other regularly used defenceman in the league.

Johnson faces the most Corsi attempts against per 60 of any d-man who has played at least 500 even strength minutes, with Beauchemin, Barrie and Holden holding down the #3-5 spots. While changing the metric from Corsi to Shots does help, it's still a relatively damning picture, especially for the second pairing of Holden-Barrie. The only way this d-corps could be worse is if GM Joe Sakic traded for Dan Girardi.

From a point production standpoint, Francois Beauchemin has three points in three games, while Tyson Barrie is still on pace for 54 points despite a recent dry spell. It's also worth noting that recent trade addition Eric Gelinas gives the Avs a different look on their power play, while also allowing Beauchemin to focus on the penalty kill and even strength.

It was a scary moment for Jets fans on Thursday, as Dustin Byfuglien didn't play half of the 3rd period thanks to an upper-body injury. Luckily, he's confirmed as being in tonight, so it looks as if all is well.

In spite of an egregious turnover, Tyler Myers had a solid game against Detroit on Thursday. From a fancy stat perspective, he was one of only four Jets players with a positive even strength Corsi For (along with the second line of Perreault-Burmistrov-Dano). When he keeps his skates moving and controls the puck with confidence, good things happen:

Mikkel, Mikhail, McLeod

Carl Soderberg

Mark Scheifele

Games Played

69

56

Goals - Assists - Points

11-34-45

21-22-43

Power Play Points

13

7

Shooting %

7.8%

14.1%

TOI / Game

18:00

17:54

PP TOI / Game

02:15

02:32

SH TOI / Game

01:59

00:16

5v5 Corsi For RelTM%

+0.1%

+2.7%

5v5 Penalty Differential

+10

+7

Make no mistake: in trading for Mikkel Boedker, the Colorado Avalanche decided the playoffs were a significant goal this season. The pending unrestricted free agent has three points in five games while averaging 16:21 and skating mostly alongside Nathan MacKinnon and Gabriel Landeskog.

He'll be without the Colorado captain tonight however. Landeskog will be sitting out the first of his three-game suspension, one brought about by this terrible hit on Simon Depres:

Elsewhere among the Avs forward corps, MacKinnon has six points in seven games and Matt Duchene five in five. They're on pace for 59 and 63 points, respectively.

As for the Winnipeg Jets, there's one story which continues to demand highlighting. Mark Scheifele has an incredible 16 points in 11 games, while averaging 20:36 TOI over the same span. Is he in line for a letter next season?

KTV: Winnipeg Jets

Key:

This season, Semyon Varlamov has a 10-4-1 record when facing 35+ shots. The answer is simple: ride a 25 shot effort to victory.

Also, for the love of all that is holy, could Paul Postma please play more than the 06:36 he did last game? It seems more than a little silly to overload Dustin Byfuglien down the remaining regular season stretch. What's the worst that could happen with more Postma? We'll miss the playoffs? **jazz hands**

Tweet:

Video:

KTV: Colorado Avalanche

Key:

Hire Guy Boucher as head coach.

Tweet:

Video:

The last time these two teams met on March 12th, Winnipeg triumphed over Colorado 4-2. With that said, the Jets improved penalty kill will look to avoid starting tonight's tilt as it did that game.

According to Nostradamus

Time to go off the deep end and predict a blowout performance by the Winnipeg Jets. Mark Scheifele scores twice, Dustin Byfuglien and Tyler Myers will have one apiece, and there will be a couple more contributors still. None of Winnipeg's goals come on the power play.


Stats, facts and automobiles provided by NHL.com, Natural Stat Trick, WAR On Ice, Hockey Analysis, Hockey Reference and The Hockey News.