Your Winnipeg Jets take on an Anaheim Ducks squad who've had an up-and-down March, but remain solidly in a playoff spot and are fighting for home ice advantage.
While 6-3-1 in their last ten games, the Ducks have been stumbling more recently. They're just 2-3-1 in their last six, including regulation losses to the Colorado Avalanche, St. Louis Blues and New York Rangers. As a result, Anaheim has fallen six points behind the Los Angeles Kings for the Pacific Division crown. The more pressing matter is San Jose, who are just one point behind Anaheim for 2nd in the Pacific, though the Ducks have a game in hand.
The Winnipeg Jets find themselves 29th in the league, having finally leapfrogged Edmonton after the Oilers shutout Vancouver 2-0. Though Winnipeg has 63 points to Edmonton's 65, the Oilers have also played three more games. Winnipeg will have to extend their current two game losing skid if they're to avoid catching the lottery champs.
The remainder of Winnipeg's March provides a mixed bag. Aside from this afternoon against Anaheim, the Jets play Vancouver, L.A., Buffalo, Philadelphia and Ottawa. Unfortunate as it is, a 3-3-0 record is eminently believable.
Catch the game today, 2:00 PM Central Time on FS-W, TSN3 and TSN1290.
Opposition Research: The Dane who would be King
The Ducks have themselves a merry little goaltending controversy.
John Gibson is almost certainly their goalie of the future. He's the highly-touted American who GM Bob Murray extended for three years beginning next season, whereas the older Frederik Andersen remains a pending RFA. From the moment said contract extension happened, the writing seemed to be on the wall.
The only trouble is, Andersen has had the better 2015-16. The 26-year-old Dane sports a record of 20-9-6 to Gibson's 16-10-3. Andersen's overall save percentage is .924% as opposed to Gibson's .919%, and the gap widens significantly when zeroing in on even strength save percentage.
When looking at Ev Sv%, Andersen possesses an impeccable .932%, versus .919% for the American rising star. Among the 53 goalies who have played at least 20 games, that's the difference between 13th and 37th.
No one is skewering Anaheim for likely siding with Gibson over Andersen in the long-term. The four year age gap between them can make for a big difference in seasoning and polish; Gibson is only 22-years-old. But there's a debate to be had over whether GM Murray should look to keep Andersen around for an extra year or two, or if Gibson might be better served long-term by handing him the keys to the kingdom.
Regardless, it looks to be Gibson for the Ducks today, and he's certainly quite capable of making saves:
Getzlaf realizes that he owes Gibson a steak dinner now pic.twitter.com/jPWjRVuqqU— Greg Balloch (@GregBalloch) November 26, 2015
Opposition Research: Korbinian the Barbarian
Hampus Lindholm has three points in three games, which means he's running hot by Hampus Lindholm standards. The 22-year-old, 6'3" Swede posted a career high in points with 34 last season; he isn't a big point producer, at least not yet. But as a two-way defenceman who brings a diverse skillset to the table, and is a fancy stat darling to boot, it's easy to understand why folks dream of snatching the RFA from Anaheim in the offseason.
Bold prediction: one of Kevin Shattenkirk, Hampus Lindholm, or Sami Vatanen will be an Oiler next season. https://t.co/pOPwlexE3j— Dave (@BmoreDaveS) March 18, 2016
The Anaheim d-corps isn't exactly a well-oiled machine at the moment. Cam Fowler is on a six game pointless drought, while Sami Vatanen is day-to-day with an upper-body injury. As a result, don't be surprised to see second pairing defenceman Korbinian Holzer.
The Three Musketeers vs Mark Scheifele
The emergence of Rickard Rakell has turned Anaheim into a three headed monster down the middle. The 2011 first rounder is a jack-of-all-trades, pretty damn good at everything kind of player. His two-way acumen and balanced style have allowed Bruce Boudreau to do the unthinkable: separate Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry, slotting the latter on Rakell's wing.
With 26 points in 23 games, it's safe to say Ryan Getzlaf is back on track, while the aforementioned Rakell has allowed Kesler to move down the depth chart. Currently minus just Chris Stewart and Nate Thompson, Anaheim's forward corps is a sight to behold. As per Daily Faceoff:
With zero points in his last two games, the glorious Mark Scheifele run appears to have cooled off, at least for the time being. With 23 goals and 46 points in 60 games, Winnipeg's 1C is unlikely to break the 30 goal barrier, though will almost certainly crack 50 points for the first time in his NHL career.
Much ink has spilled fawning over Mark Scheifele of late, but Blake Wheeler has had a nice stretch of his own. He has 13 points in his last 18 games, and 21 in 28. Having already cracked 60 points against Colorado on March 12th, Winnipeg's next captain is on pace to surpass 70 points for the first time in his career.
Stats, facts and automobiles provided by NHL.com, Natural Stat Trick, WAR On Ice, Hockey Analysis, Hockey Reference and The Hockey News.