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Game One Preview: Winnipeg Jets vs. Nashville Predators

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After winning the first series in franchise history, the Jets are taking on the best team in the league.

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

Where to watch/listen

Broadcast Schedule
Broadcast Schedule
Time: 7 p.m. CDT
TV: CBC, SN360, TVAS, NBCSN
Radio: TSN1290

Here we go, folks. The Winnipeg Jets are finally back in action tonight following their dominant five-game rout of the Minnesota Wild. After finishing their previous series in convincing fashion with a 5-0 win last Friday, the Jets are finally set to take the ice again—in what may legitimately be the most competitive matchup of the 2017-2018 playoffs.

The Jets have the distinct privilege to be second round opponents of the President’s Trophy-winning Nashville Predators. Nothing like having what could easily be the two best teams in the entire league face-off in a playoff elimination matchup in late April! Not salty at all over here. Not one bit. I actually think it’s funny. Hahahahahaha (vomits spectacularly).

I’m not worried. The recent back-and-forth we had with our pals over at On The Forecheck reveals that we’re in for a hell of a series, but this is a matchup that our beloved Jets are built for. It’s just one that, you know, should probably be played for a Cup of some kind. Okay, NOW I’m done.

In all seriousness— get excited, people. This series has all the makings of an outstanding playoff showdown. The regular season games between the Jets and Predators were (for the most part) all-out bloodbaths, seemingly played with an expectation that this postseason clash was inevitable. This is going to be the real deal (minus James Neal).

After doing battle with a horrifying upper-body(?) condition referred to only as “the malaise”, it appears that our favourite Danish son Nikolaj Ehlers will be returning to the lineup to reunite the deadly Ehlers-Stastny-Laine trio. Patrik Laine apparently has also been feeling under the weather with malaise, but he will suit up this evening without missing any time. Hopefully both Ehlers and Laine will be ready to make a return to form, as their line will be a key weapon for the Jets in this series.

Jets fans across the world were united in pure joy when they heard that awe-inspiring and very, very important defenceman Tobias Enstrom will also be making his return to the ice in tonight’s game. It seems likely that he will line up alongside Big Buff at even strength. I seriously cannot overstate how happy everyone should be to see him back on the ice tonight. It’s going to rule. Tucker Poolman appears to be the odd man out on the back end with Enstrom healthy.

Connor Hellebuyck is in line to start against fellow Vezina Trophy candidate Pekka Rinne— a goaltending duel that will surely have a massive impact on the outcome of this series.

Even considering Enstrom’s return, the Jets will be in tough against the rock-solid defence core and deftly balanced forward group of the Predators tonight. Get ready for a wild ride, friends. Let’s have some fun.

Tale of the Tape

Winnipeg Jets Stats Nashville Predators
Winnipeg Jets Stats Nashville Predators
0-0 Series 0-0
52-20-10 Record 53-18-11
114 Points 117
2nd Central Division 1st Central
2nd West Conference 1st West
5-0-0 Last 5 3-2-0
277 Goals For 267
218 Goals Against 211
Regular Season
Patrik Laine (44) Goals Viktor Arvidsson (29)
Blake Wheeler (68) Assists P.K. Subban (43)
Wheeler (91) Points Filip Forsberg (64)
Connor Hellebuyck (44) Wins Pekka Rinne (42)
Hellebuyck (2.36) Goals Against Average Rinne (2.31)
Hellebuyck (.924) Save Percentage Rinne (.927)
23.4 (5th) Power Play % 21.2 (T-12th)
81.8 (9th) Penalty Kill % 81.9 (6th)
Playoffs
Mark Scheifele (5) Goals Forsberg, Austin Watson (4)
Dustin Byfuglien (5) Assists Mattias Ekholm (5)
Byfuglien, Scheifele (5) Points Watson, Colton Sissons (7)
Hellebuyck (4) Wins Rinne (4)
Hellebuyck (1.93) Goals Against Average Rinne (2.60)
Hellebuyck (.924) Save Percentage Rinne (.909)
23.1 (7th) Power Play % 15.8 (T-12th)
76.9 (T-10th) Penalty Kill % 90.0 (4th)
2-3-0 Season Record Between 3-2-0
16-19-1-4 Overall Record (W-L-T-OTL/SOL) 23-12-1-4

Enemy Territory

Nashville Predators Coverage: On The Forecheck

Last Game

Winnipeg Jets 5-0 Minnesota Wild

The Jets scored four goals in the first period to quickly put the Minnesota Wild to bed. Five different Jets players scored goals, with Mark Scheifele driving the last nail into the Wild’s coffin on the powerplay early in the third period.

Players to Watch:

Winnipeg Jets

Tobias Enstrom

NHL: Winnipeg Jets Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Make no mistake, the Jets have sorely missed Toby Enstrom in their top-4 on the back end. Enstrom’s return to the lineup will surely provide a boost to the group’s overall effectiveness, but it will be interesting to see how he responds in his first game back. Reliable depth at all positions will be hugely important for the Jets if they hope to knock off the Predators.

Nashville Predators

Colton Sissons

NHL: Nashville Predators Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports

Sissons played a key role for Nashville in their series against the Colorado Avalanche, often tasked with shutting down the Avs’ top line alongside Nick Bonino and Austin Watson. The trio excelled in this role, providing both excellent defensive play and some very nice offensive production as well— Sissons and Watson currently share the Predators team lead in playoff points.