Time: 7:00 PM CST
Channel: TSN3, FS-TN
The Winnipeg Jets (37-16-9) will be debuting a new face on Tuesday night when they take on the Nashville Predators (38-14-9) in a battle for Central Division supremacy. Paul Stastny will make his Jets and debut, giving the hometown fans their first glimpse of what potential chemistry may unfold between Stastny and new linemates Nikolaj Ehlers and Patrik Laine.
Not bad for a second line.
Now, I know people have said that that’s the third line, but with all due respect to Mathieu Perreault, Bryan Little and Jack Roslovic, I’m giving the edge to the newly formed line.
Stastny will wear number 25 for the Jets, after turning down an offer of the number 26 from team captain Blake Wheeler. Fellow newly acquired Jet will wear number 70, becoming the 20th player all time to wear it in the NHL, and second in the franchise’s history (John Albert wore the number for his nine games in 2013-2014).
The Predators are a very good team, and a potential playoff opponent for the Jets (not necessarily in the first round). They are led in points by P.K. Subban, in goals by Viktor Arvidsson and in net by Pekka Rinne. Their 155 goals against is the second best total in the NHL, behind only the Bruins who have played one fewer game.
The two teams have met twice this season, with each team winning a game in Nashville. This will be one of three more games left between the two, with Winnipeg hosting a pair of them.
The Jets had a solid month of February, going 7-3-1, and will be looking to put the cherry on top tonight. In their last 10 games, four Jets are scoring at higher than a point-per-game pace: Blake Wheeler has 16 points, Dustin Byfuglien has 14, Patrik Laine has 11, and Mark Scheifele has 11 in his eight games since returning from injury. Kyle Connor and Nikolaj Ehlers each have five goals in that span as well, as the offensive floodgates have been open as of late, and will need to stay open against a strong defensive team like Nashville. Winnipeg scored a combined nine goals against the Preds in their two games so far, so it’s entirely possible the red light gets some work tonight.
Winnipeg Jets: 37-16-9
Goals: Patrik Laine (31)
Assists: Blake Wheeler (54)
Points: Wheeler (72)
Goalie Stat Leaders:
Wins: Connor Hellebuyck (32)
Goals Against Average: Hellebuyck (2.32)
Save Percentage: Hellebuyck (.924)
Minutes: Hellebuyck (3,002)
Special Teams: PP 24.4% (2nd), PK 82.8% (6th)
Nashville Predators: 38-14-9
Goals: Viktor Arvidsson (22)
Assists: P.K. Subban (33)
Points: Subban (48)
Goalie Stat Leaders:
Wins: Pekka Rinne (32)
Goals Against Average: Rinne (2.27)
Save Percentage: Rinne (.929)
Minutes: Rinne (2,674)
Special Teams: PP 22.9% (4th), PK 82.8% (5th)