When the Winnipeg Jets take to the ice at BellMTS Place on Friday, it will be exactly one week since their last game action, losing to the Florida Panthers in Helsinki, Finland. The team will be looking to Patrik Laine, Dustin Byfuglien, and Connor Hellebuyck to set the tone and make sure the losing streak stays at one. Can they handle the red-hot Colorado Avalanche top line?
Winnipeg Jets Set to Return After a Week Off
With four goals in two games in his home country (and a team-leading seven on the season), Laine looks to be back into his previous goal-scoring form. However, it’s not just goals that Laine is producing. His 60.43 percent Corsi-for and his relative Corsi of +16.05 in all situations put him first on the Jets in both categories. This is impressive because Laine was noticeably struggling for possession to start the year and is now leading the Jets in that respect.
The Jets will need Byfuglien on his A-game, as he is on the ice more than any other Jets defender (averaging 24:57 TOI). That is good news though because when the bruising defenceman is in the game the Jets are getting nearly 60 percent of the point-blank chances in front of the net (high danger chances for 59.29 percent). His possession stats point out that he’s been unequivocally a positive force for the team. His Corsi-for (57.5 percent), and relative Corsi (+11.74) are both tops among Jets blueliners.
Hellebuyck has had a frantic start to the season. The all-star goaltender has played in 11 of a possible 14 games (5-5-1). Couple his .500 record with his .907 save percentage and 3.01 goals-against-average and it’s clear that last year’s Vezina candidate has a lot of room for improvement. Especially since Colorado is sitting second overall in goals scored (with 52).
Wheels on the bus?
For the Jets to match the high octane Avs, they will need their captain and top point getter, Blake Wheeler, to step up and start producing at 5-on-5. Out of Wheelers 16 points to open the season, only two goals and four assists have come at even strength. His possession numbers also show a drastic decline in play for the Jets captain at even strength. The fact that he hasn’t improved on his Corsi-for of 47.6 percent and his relative Corsi of -2.91 after 14 games is starting to become a concern. Living and dying by power-play points alone is a dangerous game.
#NHLJets Nik Ehlers on the 8-5-1 team: “Everybody in here knows we can do better than we’re doing right now. Once we all buy into that and play the way we need to, we’ve got one hell of a team. We’re 14 games into the season now. It’s not the beginning of the season anymore.”
— Mike McIntyre (@mikemcintyrewpg) November 6, 2018
The High Flying Colorado Avalanche Top Line
Josh Morrissey and Jacob Trouba will have their hands full dealing with the high-flying top line of Nathan MacKinnon, Mikko Rantanen, and Gabriel Landeskog. This trio accounts for over half of the goals the Avalanche have scored this season (27 of 52). The Jets will need to do their best to limit the impact these three have on the game.
Whenever there is a long layoff between games it’s hard to know exactly what version of the Jets will take to the ice. They should come out healthy, rested, and ready to play. However, in the past that these breaks have had the opposite impact on some teams.
What’s key is being at home and having the last change. Simply for the fact that so much of the Avalanche offence is run through that top line. Maurice will be leaning on the Adam Lowry and Mark Scheifele lines whenever the Avs top line takes to the ice.
The Jets can’t return to playing an undisciplined game though. Coming into Friday, the Jets have the 13th ranked worst powerplay in the league. If the team spends more time on the PK than on their second ranked power-play (33.3 percent), it could be a long night.
Main Photo: October 19, 2016: Jets Patrik Laine (29) skates with the puck during the Winnipeg Jets vs Toronto Maple Leafs game at the MTS Centre in Winnipeg MB. (Photo by Terry Lee/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)