Minnesota Wild (21-18-3) at Winnipeg Jets (27-13-2)
Puck drop: 7:00PM CT
Before we dig into tonight’s match-up between the Wild and Jets, let’s look back at how both teams fared since they were in action on Tuesday. For the Wild, let’s just look past their debacle of a game against the Bruins. Nothing was going right for them. As for our opponents tonight, the Jets, they put up a touchdown on the Avalanche while seven different players potted a goal. The Wild begin a brief two-game home stand, while the Jets take a trip to Minnesota before returning home Thursday night.
Wild/Jets season recap
Winnipeg took all four games last season, including sweeping the Wild but things this year have been different. Before the puck drops tonight, these two teams have met twice already with the Wild winning both times. The first, a penalty-filled game back in November saw the Wild come out with a 4-2 victory. Just about a month later, about 12 days ago, the Wild would knock off the Jets 3-1 to end their 5-game skid at the time.
Now, to the game at hand this evening, the teams are both going in opposite directions. The Wild have been struggling as of late, however their recent road trip saw them take 6 out of the possible 8 points. But, Tuesday night was another red flag for the Wild as they looked gassed from the get go. A delayed flight, not getting into Boston until 3am, was just the beginning of a long night against the Bruins. On the other side, the Jets are looking for their third win in a row tonight and keep the top spot in the Central Division.
Something’s Got to Give
Since Matt Dumba went down with his injury in the game against Calgary, the power-play for the Wild has been nearly invisible. 1 for 22 since that game with the man advantage, including last night they weren’t able to muster up a shot on goal in three attempts. Now, Dumba is just player, but he was a huge back-bone to the Wild power-play. Bruce Bouderau has to do something to light a spark under those on the power-play to get them going.
Scouting the Jets
The Jets are lead by the one-two combo of Blake Wheeler and Mark Scheifele. Both have 55 and 53 points respectfully in the 42 games they have played in this season. After those two, the points drop off for the Jets, but they are still loaded with the likes of Patrik Laine, and Kyle Connor just to name a few. The Jets are hot, and when they are hot, they score at ease. In net, Connor Hellebuyck who is 19-12 on the season, but back-up goaltender Laurent Brossoit is 8-1 this year and with the Jets playing a back-to-back tonight and then tomorrow night at home against Detroit. Expect Hellebuyck to be in net due to the severity of this game though.
Optimism in the Room
Something the Wild haven’t had in awhile is a sort of optimism and hope for better results in the games they play this season. Eric Staal was quoted after the game saying “Obviously we’re disappointed with the result tonight. But we did have some good wins and played some good hockey and we’ve gotta take that with us when we go home.” With five of the next six at home, the Wild look to build off the strong road trip, use that home-ice advantage they have, and get back into the playoff picture. Yes, they are in a wild-card spot, and are in one of the toughest getting a good stretch of games at home, and play well going into the break could be huge for yet another playoff push from the Wild.