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Game #69 Preview: Winnipeg Jets at Vancouver Canucks

Bruce Fedyck-USA TODAY Sports

Your Winnipeg Jets take on a Vancouver Canucks squad which once had mildly realistic playoff hopes, but now seem a solid bet to finish in the bottom 6-10 range.

With a 2015-16 home record of 13-16-5, Rogers Arena has not been an effective bastion for Vancouver. The Canucks are 2-0-0 on their current four game homestand, though Vancouver's last one also began 2-0-0, before losing three straight for a 2-3-0 final tally. The Canucks did most recently off Nashville 4-2, however it was a case of turtling after going up 2-0 in the 1st period. The final shot tally was 37-28 in favour of the Preds, including 33-15 in the final 40 minutes.

While the Canucks have a road record above .500, the same cannot be said for Winnipeg. 13-18-3 away from the MTS Centre, it's been especially bad of late, going 1-4-1 on the road since Feb. 16th. After being taught a 3-2 lesson by the Detroit Red Wings last Thursday, the Jets bounced back with their own 3-2 win Saturday against the desperate Colorado Avalanche. Hopefully they don't carry any momentum into tonight.

In their only meeting thus far of the season, Winnipeg defeated Vancouver to the tune of 4-1. The Jets outshot Vancouver 17-6 in the 3rd period, Mark Scheifele and Drew Stafford each had two goal, three point nights, and Andrew Copp played 05:58. Memories.

Catch the game tonight, 6:30 PM Central Time on Sportsnet Pacific, TSN3 and TSN 1290.

It's a Numbers Game

Winnipeg Jets

Vancouver Canucks

Record

28-35-5

27-28-12

Division-Conference-League

7th-12th-27th

5th-11th-24th

Last 10 - Streak

3-6-1 - W1

5-5-0 - W2

Goals For / Game

2.56 (20th)

2.39 (26th)

Goals Against / Game

2.94 (26th)

2.82 (21st)

Shots For / Game

29.7 (17th)

28.6 (26th)

Shots Against / Game

29.8 (15th)

31.6 (28th)

5v5 Corsi For %

51.8% (10th)

47.1% (28th)

5v5 Shooting %

7.04% (18th)

6.92% (21st)

5v5 Sv%

92.16% (23rd)

92.87% (14th)

Power Play %

15.5% (28th)

17.5% (21st)

Penalty Kill %

78.3% (25th)

81.3% (13th)

PIM / Game

12:00 (27th)

10:11 (19th)

While they're no Colorado Avalanche, the Vancouver Canucks still leave plenty to be desired. For starters, their offence might be kindly described as "mildly abysmal". The twins have been doing their part, with Daniel and Henrik Sedin on pace for 70 and 62 points, respectively (the latter having missed eight games to injuries).

From there however, the drop-off is severe. Jannik Hansen is third on the team with 32 points, and Bo Horvat fourth with 31. The Winnipeg Jets, not exactly a goalscoring juggernaut this season, have eight players with over 30 points. The Vancouver Canucks have four.

This isn't the price paid for superb team defence, either. Vancouver rank 22nd in 5v5 Shots Against per 60 and 17th in Corsi Against per 60. On both counts, the Canucks are mediocre, though not completely wretched. It's when combined with their significantly worse Shots For per 60 and Corsi For per 60 that one ends up with a possession team better only than New Jersey and Colorado.

Daniel and Henrik Sedin are enough to keep Vancouver's power play from the bottom of the barrel. Their penalty kill, on the other hand, is a genuine strength.

At home, Vancouver's PK% is 84.4%, good for ninth in the league. The much-maligned Luca Sbisa has been a surprisingly effective penalty killer for the Canucks, alongside fellow defenceman Matt Bartkowski.

Unfortunately for Vancouver, another of their competent penalty killers in Alex Burrows is out tonight. I'm sure their PK is just quaking at the thought of Winnipeg's power play.

Speaking of short-handed special teams, Winnipeg's is up to 25th in the league! This begs the question:

Hutch is not Clutch

Michael Hutchinson

Jacob Markstrom

Record

7-13-2

11-8-4

Overall Sv%

.904%

.918%

Ev Sv%

.904%

.924%

PP Sv%

.902%

.905%

In addition to their penalty kill, another relative strength for Vancouver has been goaltending. Tonight's starter, backup goalie Jacob Markstrom, has quietly had a breakout season.

While Markstrom's been an excellent AHL option for years now, his limited NHL action has been a significantly more trying affair. A .918% overall save percentage is a rather positive development for the big Swede, and his .924% at even strength ranks 30th among the 59 goalies who have played at least 15 games. It's a Sv% tied with St. Louis' Jake Allen, and pegs him just below fellow Canuck Ryan Miller's .925 Ev Sv%.

After Ondrej Pavelec put in a strong performance on Saturday against Colorado, Michael Hutchinson makes for a somewhat surprising starter tonight. Hutch has allowed 3+ goals in each of his last five appearances, and his Ev Sv% of .904% ranks 58th out of the aforementioned 59 goalies, ahead of only Curtis McElhinney.

At the very least, the bar is set low for Hutchinson tonight. A solid performance would easily exceed expectations.

Dan "You're still here?" Hamhuis

Jacob Trouba

Ben Hutton

Games Played

67

60

Goals - Assists - Points

6-11-17

1-22-23

Power Play Points

3

7

Shooting %

5.3%

1.2%

TOI / Game

21:43

19:27

PP TOI / Game

01:10

02:10

SH TOI / Game

02:54

00:45

5v5 Corsi For RelTM%

+1.0%

-0.4%

5v5 Penalty Differential

-8

+4

While it's unwise to judge a defenceman based solely off their rookie season (see: Myers, Tyler), the Canucks have to hope they've found a long-term gem in Ben Hutton. The 2012 5th rounder, who played for the University of Maine just last season, has quickly emerged as a key cog for Vancouver's d-corps. His ATOI ranks a solid fourth on the team, behind Alexander Edler, Chris Tanev and Dan Hamhuis, while he leads all Canucks defencemen with 23 points in 60 games.

Speaking of Edler, the Swede will miss the rest of the season thanks to a fractured fibula. The absence of Vancouver's ATOI leader makes Hutton's emergence all the more valuable (and serves to provide the rookie additional offensive opportunity).

While Dustin Byfuglien continues his incredible run, now featuring 19 points in the last 21 games, he appears to be a game-time decision tonight. If Big Buff can't go, it'll be time to switch back to the Julian calendar:

Goat-Medal Winner

Mark Scheifele

Henrik Sedin

Games Played

57

59

Goals - Assists - Points

22-23-45

10-39-49

Power Play Points

8

18

Shooting %

14.2%

13.0%

TOI / Game

17:55

18:21

PP TOI / Game

02:33

03:18

SH TOI / Game

00:16

00:34

5v5 Corsi For RelTM%

+2.8%

+4.7%

5v5 Penalty Differential

+8

-2

Jets 1C Mark Scheifele now has 18 points in his last 12 games. If one looks closely, you can actually see Winnipeg's future cap space slowly evaporating. Now let's remember one of Scheifele's goals against Vancouver earlier in the season:

With six goals and 12 points in 42 games, Jake Virtanen hasn't exactly set the world on fire during his rookie season. In yourfairness however, he's averaging only 11:11 TOI and does actually lead all Vancouver players in 5v5 Corsi For%. While his most frequent linemates are Sven Baertschi and Bo Horvat, he'll be skating alongside the Sedins tonight.

According to Nostradamus

The Winnipeg Jets lose tonight because of Michael Hutchinson. Despite a Jets squad which dominates the shot count and fancy stats nearly all game, Hutch allows four goals on 31 shots. Mark Scheifele has two assists.

Jets lose 4-3.

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