The Wild are 3-0 against the Jets this season, winning two of those games by only a goal (6-5 and 3-2) and the November matchup by two goals (3-1). In other words: scoring against the Jets hasn’t been a problem for the Wild, but keeping them out of the net was troubling in the two’s most recent meeting.
Winnipeg hasn’t been the team its fans were hoping for this season. The Jets sit at 5th in the Central division at 31-33-7 for a very nice 69 points.
The Jets have been the second-highest scoring team in the division at 212 goals for (behind only the Wild’s 226), but they’ve also allowed the second-most goals in the division; their 226 goals against only trails Dallas’ 233.
Winnipeg is, statistically, better than the Wild at controlling the bulk of 5v5 play; from Hockey Analysis, The Wall controls roughly 49.5% of the shot attempts at 5v5 compared to the Wild’s 48.2. There are two important differences in the team.
First, the Wild’s 5v5 Sv% is 92.9 (sixth best in the league) compared to Peg’s 91.38 (fifth worst in the league). Secondly, the Wild have been more effective at controlling scoring chances. The Wild control 51.76% of scoring chances compared to Winnipeg’s 50.84. That gap widens when you look only at high-danger chances, where the Wild control 55.7% (best in the league) compared to 52.31. Thanks to Natural Stat Trick for these numbers.
Put another way: the Wild and the Jets are similar teams in terms of style; both sacrifice some control of overall shot attempts in order to control scoring chances. The Wild do this more effectively, and are helped by having had the best goaltender in the league for much of the season, while Winnipeg has had two of the worst.
Based on Micah Blake McCurdy’s latest point predictions, the Jets are a long shot to make the playoffs, which comes as little surprise given their struggles in net. The Jets at this point are playing for pride, as they are unable to play spoiler for the Wild, who have clinched a playoff berth for all intents and purposes.
The Jets are currently without Shawn Matthias, Jacob Trouba, Toby Enstrom, Ondrej Pavelec, and Tyler Myers. Pavelec, Trouba, and Matthias are listed as day-to-day and could theoretically return, while Myers and Enstrom are out indefinitely.
Betwixt the non-goalie players on that list, the Jets are missing over 50 points from this season. The biggest losses are Trouba and Ensrton, with Matthias a close third.
The Wild, meanwhile, are missing Martin Hanzal, Gustav Olofsson, Christian Folin, and (technically) Victor Bartley. Injuries have been far kinder to the Wild, who will only truly miss Hanzal and one of Olofsson or Folin. The two defenders are bottom-pairing players with limited NHL experience (albeit Goose prospects to be a good NHL-er).
In short: this is a game the Wild should be winning. That, as they say, is why they play the game.
How to Watch
Puck drop is at 4:00 PM (which we all know means more like 4:12).
The game will be televised on FS-N and FS-WI.
Radio: 100.3 KFAN