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Preview: Winnipeg Jets at Nashville Predators

The Winnipeg Jets return to Nashville for the first time since winning game seven in May.

NHL: Stanley Cup Playoffs-Winnipeg Jets at Nashville Predators Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

Time: 7:00 PM CST

Channel: TSN3

Radio: TSN1290

The Winnipeg Jets are Set To face The Nashville Predators On Thursday Night. This will be the first time the two teams will face each other since the Jets Beat the Predators in game 7 of the Western Conference Semi-Final. Last years Western Conference Semi-Finals playoff matchup was perhaps one of the most fun and intense matchup’s played throughout the entire playoffs. The Jets eventually lost to the Vegas Golden Knights who in turn Lost in the Stanley Cup finals to the Washington Capitals. Both teams sit tied with four points to start off the year. Each team has won two games and lost one.

The matchup has the potential to be one of the best games yet this season. After last years playoff matchup you can expect to be entertained by Thursday nights game in Nashville. Before the game, there are some things that you might want to look our for while watching.

#1. Kyle Connor And The Rest Of The First Line

Kyle Connor has arguably been the best Winnipeg Jet throughout the first three games of the season. He has already scored three goals and one assist to start the season. He has been the one that has kept this team afloat to start the season and it makes sense why. Kyle Connor has been playing on the Left Wing on a line with Mark Scheifele and Blake Wheeler which are pretty much the best line mates he could ask for on Winnipeg. The first line has been by far the best line for the Jets. Scheifele and Wheeler each have recorded 3 points in 3 games as well. If the Jets have any chance of beating the Predators, the top line will have to be at there best to get past the Predators elite defensive core.

#2 Taking Advantage Of Predators Slow Start From Their Forwards

Many Jets fans are not pleased with the slow start to the season that key players like Nikolaj Ehlers and Brian Little have had. As worried as Jets fans may be, Nashville Predators fans should be even more worried. This is not to say that the Predators will not light it up on Thursday night or that they cannot catch up and start performing, It may just be a slow start to the season, but as it stands now, the Jets need to capitalize on the Predators forwards slow offensive start. The highest scoring forwards on their team are Victor Arvidsson, Colton Sissons, Kyle Turris, Craig Smith, and Filip Forsberg who each have 2 points. It is the defence who have really taken the most charge offensively. P.K. Subban and Mattias Ekhlom each have 3 points. Ryan Ellis also has 2 points to start the season. It seems as though the Predators defense is doing just as much defensively as they are offensivley. If Winnipeg can figure out how to contain the defence (especially Subban, Ekhlom, And Ellis) then they might have a decent shot of taking home the win. Although the Predators have had a slow offensive start, this does not mean that the Jets will win or have an advantage going into the game. The Predators forwards will be hungry to generate offence and may very well be a strong challenge to overcome. The Jets however have the chance to capitalize early and this could be a difference maker in the contest.

#3 Nikolaj Ehlers

Nikolaj Ehlers would surely like to restart the season. Throughout the first three games he has went pointless and has even spent some of his ice time on the third line. Ehlers is a key member of the Jets young group of forwards. He has had back-to-back seasons with 60 or more points and 29 and 25 goals in his last two seasons. Ehlers is definitely not impressed with himself this season. He will be eager to score and will definitely be someone who will be on my radar as I watch the game. He is expected to start n the left wing on a line with Brian Little at center and Patrik Laine on the right side. This line should definitely be something to watch out for. Laine has had a decent start to the season with 2 points in 3 games but would probably like to see himself do a little better. Little on the other hand is yet to record a single point to start the season. This line in general is probably not too impressed with themselves and would like to see their fortunes change on Thursday night in Nashville.

Goaltender Matchup

Pekka Rinne and Connor Hellebuyck are expected to be the starting goaltenders for Thursdays contest. Both goalies have started off the season relatively well. Rinne has a 1-1-0 record with a 2.50 goals against average and a .921 save percentage. Hellebuyck owns a 2-1-0 record, a 2.33 goals against average, and a .926 save percentage. Both goaltenders have started off their respective seasons on a high note which will make Thursdays contest all the more interesting. Hellebuyck has been slightly better to start off the season statistically but in reality it does not make too much of a difference especially considering that he played one more game then Pekka Rinne and it has only been a small sample size of games played.

Thursday nights game is set to be a great game considering the intense rivalry the two teams build up last season. They played many high scoring and entertaining contests last season even before they faced in the playoffs. This is a game that you really do not want to miss.