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Preview: Winnipeg Jets @ Minnesota Wild

Dec 30, 2023; Winnipeg, Manitoba, CAN; Winnipeg Jets forward Gabriel Vilardi (13) jostles for position with Minnesota Wild defenseman Zach Bogosian (24) during the third period at Canada Life Centre. Mandatory Credit: Terrence Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Time: 1:00 pm CST
Channel: TSN3
Radio: CJOB680/Power 97

The Winnipeg Jets continue to strive for the Central Division lead and will try for a clean sweep of the Minnesota Wild on Sunday to help them reach their goal. Our team ended the Wild’s 4 game winning streak in front of a sell out crowd on Saturday with a 4 to 2 victory, but both squads have been playing well in their past 10 games (WPG 7-1-2 & MIN 7-3-0).

It is very likely that Winnipeg will roll back the same line up tonight, with the exception of Laurent Brossoit taking the reins in the Jets’ crease. It will be up to the Jets’ back up to try to extend the franchise-record of 24 straight games without allowing more than 3 goals in a game.

Despite news that David Gustafsson, Rasmus Kupari, Ville Heinola, and Kyle Connor (w/ brace) are back to skating activities, none appear to be ready to return just yet. In the most recent comments from Rick Bowness on the matter, he indicated that Gus wouldn’t be able to go this weekend, Kupari would likely return sometime in the upcoming road trip (Jan 4th to 7th), Heinola is farther away from getting back into the lineup, and Connor’s full recovery timeline remains in the 6 to 8 week range even with the early return to on-ice activities (just 20 days after injury).

The Jets were helped greatly by the bottom of their lineup in yesterday’s win over Minnesota, with the bottom six scoring 3 of the 4 Winnipeg goals. With the 4th line playing so well, the coaching staff will have to make some tough decisions when some of the injured forwards start to return to action. Even veteran grinder Dominic Toninato is having success playing with Axel Jonsson-Fjallby and Morgan Barron since his call up from the Manitoba Moose, picking up an assist in each of the two games he’s appeared in.

The Minnesota Wild had their 4 game winning streak ended yesterday and I expect them to come out hard on Sunday. With some chippiness occurring late in the game because of a Brendan Dillon cross-check on Kirill Kaprizov, the matinee game has the possibility of becoming one of those ugly inter-division games. We all know Minny has more than one player that crosses the line with their on-ice play, so it would be best for smaller players like Cole Perfetti and Nik Ehlers to keep their heads up. I kind of wish Winnipeg would have called up big Tyrel Bauer from the Moose to help them respond to any of the Wild’s antics. This afternoon, Marc Andre Fleury will play in his 1000th NHL game and the goalie is still able to play at a high level (just ask Nino Niederreiter, who must have thought he had a guaranteed hatty before being stoned by the veteran).

Here’s how the two teams match up:
GOALS FOR/GAME: Minnesota – 3.09 / Winnipeg – 3.35
GOALS AGAINST/GAME: Minnesota – 3.18 / Winnipeg – 2.50
SHOTS FOR/GAME: Minnesota – 30.4 / Winnipeg – 31.3
SHOTS AGAINST/GAME: Minnesota – 30.3 / Winnipeg – 28.8
POWERPLAY: Minnesota – 17.9% / Winnipeg – 16.8%
PENALTY KILLING: Minnesota – 72.7% / Winnipeg – 75.7%

Puck drops at 1 pm….feel free to drop by Arctic Ice Hockey for some pre-game conversation and hopefully the Jets will give us a reason to start the New Year’s Eve party a bit early!!

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