The next two Detroit Red Wings opponents squared off last night. Tonight will be the first game of a back to back effort on the road in Winnipeg and then in Minnesota tomorrow.
The Jets and Wild squared off last night. The Wild skated to a 3-2 victory. While the Jets were in Minnesota taking on the Wild, the Detroit Red Wings flew into snowy Winnipeg in the afternoon. They are well rested and need to take it to the Jets early to have any success. The Wings can’t afford to start slow tonight and think they can survive; the Jets are just too good.
The Jets are a legitimate Stanley Cup contenders, the Wings are not, they’ve lost 8 of their last 9 games. The Wings are trying to get something positive going once again. They were able to beat the Nashville Predators a week ago and then once again fell into a rut. The Jets are battling with the Preds at the top of the Western Conference, as they jostle for the first seed in the Central division.
The good news for the Wings is that standout defenseman Dustin Byfuglien and Nikolaj Ehlers are both sidelined with injuries. Ehlers is out with a shoulder injury, and big Byfuglien is nursing a lower-body injury.
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The Jets lineup is broad; they are able to play with the attitude “business as usual” even with a couple of skilled players on the shelf. The Jets own the second-best power-play in the league; they convert 29.5% of the time.
They also are the owners of the 13th best penalty kill in the league. They are able to kill off 80.6% of their penalties. It will be in the Detroit Red Wings best interest to stay out of the box. The Wings PP ranks third in the league on the road (24%). But terrible at home (11%). It doesn’t add up, but with this game being on the road maybe they can capitalize on the power-play tonight with the return of Mike Green.
We will get to see a few familiar faces tonight. Jacob Trouba, Kyle Connor and Andrew Copp all former Michigan Wolverines are regulars for the Jets. Connor has flourished into a top-six forward for the Jets. Trouba is a top-four defender who is a pending restricted free agent. Andrew Copp centers the team’s fourth line. He’s a strong checking center.
The Jets are led offensively by their captain Blake Wheeler who has only 7 goals but leads the team by a mile with 48 assists. He’s notched 27 of those assists on the power-play. Mark Scheifele is who I consider the teams’ best all-around player. He plays over 22 minutes a night and is very balanced offensively.
He’s recorded 23 goals and added 30 assists this season. He is the teams top center and leads the club with a plus 17 rating! Trouba is second on the team with a plus 11 and over 22:00 TOI minutes a night.
I haven’t even mentioned their top goal scorer yet. Patrik Laine leads the team with 24 goals but only has 8 helpers. He is lethal on the power-play though with that Alex Ovechkin like one-time blast from the circle. Laine’s 11 PP goals leads the team. He is struggling of late though; he’s only been able to notch 1 goal over his last 11 games.
Although Mike Green returns to the lineup, young Michael Rasmussen isn’t expected to be ready tonight. It is supposed to be the battle of the back-up goaltenders. Bernier is expected to get the nod for the Wings as Howard will get the call tomorrow in Minnesota. The Jets will turn to Laurent Brossoit who’s posted anything but back-up type numbers.
The only sign of Brossoit being a back-up is his limited starts. They should use him more while he’s hot and get Connor Hellebuyck some extra rest leading up to the playoff push. Brossoit in 10 starts this season is 8-1-0-1 with a spectacular 2.11 goals against average and a .939% save percentage.
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The Detroit Red Wings expected lineup:
Niklas Kronwall (A) – Mike Green
- Detroit Red Wings 16-22-7 vs. Winnipeg Jets 27-14-2
- Time: 8:00 EST
- Location: Bell MTS Place, Winnipeg, Manitoba
- TV: Fox Sports Detroit, TSN3, Fox Sports Go, NHL.TV, ESPN+
- Radio: 97.1 The Ticket
- Oddshark Odds Jets -220
- Previous ten meetings Jets 6-3-0-1