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Preview: Winnipeg Jets at Detroit Red Wings

The first half of the Jets’ first of 10 back-to-backs happens tonight in Motor City.

NHL: Winnipeg Jets at Detroit Red Wings Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

Where to watch/listen

Broadcast Schedule
Broadcast Schedule
Time: 7:00 P.M. CDT
Radio: TSN1290, KFAN 100.3

I have a hard time liking the Detroit Red Wings. This is something I came to realize while sorting through the stats ahead of the team’s game tonight against the visiting Winnipeg Jets.

For those old enough to remember, it was Detroit that put the final nail in the coffin of the Jets 1.0 before they moved to Phoenix in 1996, knocking them out of the playoffs in six games. The Red Wings went on to the conference finals that year, and the next two years won the whole thing. This was during a string of 25 straight trips to the playoffs. Nicklas Lidstrom, one of the greatest to ever play the game who played all 21 years of his career in Detroit, never missed the playoffs in his career.

But all things must come to an end, and finally in 2017 the Red Wings became mortal once again, missing out on the playoffs. Then they did it again the next year. So far in 2018-19, sitting at 1-6-2, things are not looking good once more. They have the oldest roster in the NHL, with an average age of 29.4 years old (Winnipeg sits at the fourth youngest at 26.1). The team is starting to see prospects develop into players, such as Dennis Cholowski (drafted 20th overall in 2016, has five points in seven games this year), but they’re still young and developing. This year’s sixth overall pick, Filip Zadina, is playing in the AHL due to a loophole in the NHL/CHL agreement. Last year’s eighth overall, Michael Rasmussen pick has one assist in eight games for Detroit this year. Evgeny Svechnikov, who was picked 20th overall in 2015, has not played this year due to injury.

So there’s hope there for the future. But this team also has nine guys 30-years-old or older, and have major salary cap problems that prevent them from giving their young talent adequate support.

Anyway, where was I? The Jets are on the road for the next four games, although one of the games in Finland counts as a home game. The Jets played in Detroit once last year, losing 5-1 in December. They then won the next game between the two, this time in Winnipeg, by a 4-3 score.

Head coach Paul Maurice had the line blender going in their loss to the Maple Leafs, and it will be curious to see what is rolled out in this contest. While things started out with Patrik Laine, Mark Scheifele and Blake Wheeler on the first line and Nikolaj Ehlers, Kyle Connor and Bryan Little on the second line, things evolved so that by the end of the game the top line was Ehlers, Scheifele and Wheeler, with Connor, Little and Laine on the second. It produced Ehlers’ first goal of the season, so maybe it’s a good thing? We’ll see tonight.

Tale of the Tape

Winnipeg Jets Stats San Jose Sharks
Winnipeg Jets Stats San Jose Sharks
1-0-0 Series 0-1-0
14-9-1 Record 13-11-1
29 Points 27
3rd Central Division 4th Pacific
5th West Conference 8th West
4-1-0 Last 5 4-1-0
68 Goals For 73
73 Goals Against 83
Regular Season
Nikolaj Ehlers (11) Goals Evander Kane (12)
Patrik Laine, Mark Scheifele (14) Assists Logan Couture (20)
Scheifele (22) Points Couture (25)
Connor Hellebuyck (11) Wins Martin Jones (10)
Hellebuyck (2.42) Goals Against Average Jones (3.18)
Hellebuyck (.928) Save Percentage Aaron Dell (.897)
15.5 (24th) Power Play % 19.5 (14th)
72.2 (29th) Penalty Kill % 91.4 (1st)

Enemy Territory

Detroit Red Wings Coverage: Winging it in Motown

Last Jets Game:

Winnipeg Jets 2-4 Toronto Maple Leafs

Frederik Andersen stopped 38 of 40, and John Tavares nipped a Jets comeback in the bud with a third period goal.

Last Red Wings Game:

Carolina Hurricanes 3-1 Detroit Red Wings

Detroit was outshot 39-21, and allowed two power play goals and a short handed goal.

Players to watch:

Winnipeg Jets

NHL: Preseason-Minnesota Wild at Winnipeg Jets James Carey Lauder-USA TODAY Sports

As I am writing this well before news of who will start in net will break, I am assuming it will be Laurent Brossoit and then Connor Hellebuyck playing Saturday against Toronto.

Brossoit has done well since joining the Jets, and has a pair of wins to show for it so far this season. In games against Arizona and Carolina, Brossoit stopped a combined 84 of 88 shots to give him a .955 save percentage. In order to lessen the load on Hellebuyck, Brossoit is proving himself to be a viable option to be called upon when needed.

Now he has to keep doing it all season.

Detroit Red Wings

NHL: Philadelphia Flyers at Detroit Red Wings Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

In what was always going to be a dumpster fire of a contract, Frans Nielsen signed a six-year deal with the Red Wings with an annual cap hit of $5.25 million. At the time, he was 32-years-old and coming off a 52 point season with the New York Islanders.

His first year in Detroit saw him put up 41 points in 79 games. Last year that total fell to 33 points in 79 games. In nine games this season, Nielsen has five assists and no goals, with 13 shots on net. He’s second on the team for ice time among forward, and needs to start producing more offensively on a team averaging 2.22 goals per game (28th in the NHL).