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Preview: Winnipeg Jets vs Washington Capitals

The Battle of the W’s goes down tonight in Winnipeg.

Washington Capitals v Winnipeg Jets
WINNIPEG, MB - NOVEMBER 1: Patrik Laine #29 of the Winnipeg Jets plays the puck down the ice as Marcus Johansson #90 of the Washington Capitals gives chase during second period action at the MTS Centre on November 1, 2016 in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. The Caps defeated the Jets 3-2.
Photo by Jonathan Kozub/NHLI via Getty Images

Time: 7:00 PM CST

Channel: TSN3, NBCSWA

Radio: TSN1290

The Winnipeg Jets (32-15-9) will be looking to return to their winning ways as they play their seventh of 10 straight home games tonight. They take on a tough opponent in the Washington Capitals (32-17-6), who currently sit atop the Metropolitan Division.

The Jets are coming off losses to the Blues and Rangers, most recently falling by a 3-1 score to New York on Sunday night. The Capitals are coming off of a 5-4 OT loss to Detroit on Sunday night, and both Winnipeg and Washington are 2-2-1 in their last five games, with the Jets sitting at 3-2-1 on this homestand.

Clearly, this is all Mark Scheifele’s fault.

Kidding aside, the Jets are 56 games into this season, sitting in second in the Central, and two points up on St. Louis with two games in hand. Not too shabby. Scheifele has one assist in his two games since a lengthy injury layoff. The Jets continue to have other players on the injured reserve, and despite the return of Matt Hendricks last game, their are some more important names that would greatly benefit the Jets’ chances of winning upon their return.

Connor Hellebuyck has played in 46 of the Jets’ 56 games to this point, and his games played total has him sitting fifth in the NHL. Could he be getting tired? It doesn’t help having fellow goalies Steve Mason and Michael Hutchinson on the shelf with concussions, but those are injuries you cannot rush, nor do they have definitive timetables of recovery. So Hellebuyck shoulders the load. He’s done it well, too. If the season were to end today, his save percentage of .923 would set a new franchise record for a goalie during a season. His five shutouts are tied for the most by a Thrashers/Jets netminder in a season (Ondrej Pavelec had five the year the Jets made the playoffs), and his 28 wins is six back of the franchise mark.

Not bad.

Looking at the Washington side of things, Alexander Ovechkin has 33 goals this year, and is on pace for 49. He managed “just” 33 all of last year. Evgeny Kuznetsov is also having a strong season ,with 53 points in 55 games. In net, Braden Holtby remains Braden Holtby. I feel for Braden Holtby, and a few other guys around the NHL, who could and should have made their Olympic debuts in the next few days but nope. I’m left cheering for Derek Roy and Ben Scrivens.

Oh well.

This is the first of two games between the clubs this season, with the other going down in the U.S. capital on March 12.

Winnipeg Jets: 32-15-9

Stat Leaders:

Goals: Patrik Laine (25)

Assists: Blake Wheeler (46)

Points: Wheeler (60)

Goalie Stat Leaders:

Wins: Connor Hellebuyck (28)

Goals Against Average: Hellebuyck (2.35)

Save Percentage: Hellebuyck (.923)

Minutes: Hellebuyck (2,702)

Special Teams: PP 23.6% (4th), PK 82.7% (8th)

Washington Capitals: 32-17-6

Stat Leaders:

Goals: Alex Ovechkin (33)

Assists: Evgeny Kuznetsov (38)

Points: Ovechkin (60)

Goalie Stat Leaders:

Wins: Braden Holtby (28)

Goals Against Average: Holtby (2.79)

Save Percentage: Holtby (.914)

Minutes: Holtby (2,384)

Special Teams: PP 21.6% (7th), PK 79.7% (19th)