Time: 7:00 PM CDT
Channel: TSN3, SNW
With no offence to Steve Mason, Eric Comrie or Michael Hutchinson, this is Connor Hellebuyck’s show from here on out.
Head Coach Paul Maurice announced this morning that Hellebuyck will start tonight against the Calgary Flames (36-34-10), and will have the option of starting in the season finale against Chicago on Saturday.
Hellebuyck can tie Tom Barrasso’s record for wins by an American goaltender tonight, as he sits one shy of the record 43 victories. He takes on a Calgary team with the fourth fewest goals for in the league. Hellebuyck sports a record of 42-11-9 this season (28-5-2 at home), with a .922 save percentage and a 2.40 goals against average. He also has six shutouts.
Hellebuyck and Co. face a Flames team that is not making the playoffs and is 2-8-0 in their last 10 games. Johnny Gaudreau has 82 points in 78 games fro Calgary. Unfortunately for the Flames, he’s one of only two players on the team with more than 50 points this year, and the other (Sean Monahan) is done for the year after undergoing wrist surgery.
The Jets will ice a full strength lineup tonight, with Sami Niku going to the press box after scoring his first NHL goal in his first NHL game. He will be joined there by Brandon Tanev and others, as Jack Roslovic stays in the squad.
Patrik Laine is two goals back of the league lead in goals.
Winnipeg (50-20-10) is three points back of Nashville for the Central Division lead, and could still catch them if they win out and Nashville only manages a point or less in their remaining two games against Washington and Columbus. It’s possible.
The last time these teams met, it ended in pretty entertaining fashion.
Winnipeg Jets: 50-20-10
Goals: Patrik Laine (44)
Assists: Blake Wheeler (67)
Points: Wheeler (89)
Goalie Stat Leaders:
Wins: Connor Hellebuyck (42)
Goals Against Average: Hellebuyck (2.40)
Save Percentage: Hellebuyck (.922)
Minutes: Hellebuyck (3,846)
Special Teams: PP 23.7% (4th), PK 81.5% (9th)
Calgary Flames: 36-34-10
Goals: Sean Monahan (31)
Assists: Johnny Gaudreau (59)
Points: Gaudreau (82)
Goalie Stat Leaders:
Wins: Mike Smith (25)
Goals Against Average: Smith (2.65)
Save Percentage: Smith (.916)
Minutes: Smith (3,191)
Special Teams: PP 16.0% (29th), PK 81.3% (12th)
PREDICTION: JETS 5 FLAME 0
OPPONENT’S BLOG: MATCHSTICKS AND GASOLINE