Game Day Preview: Jets @ Wild
When: Thursday, February 16, 2012
Time: 7:00 p.m. CST
Where: Xcel Energy Center, St. Paul, Minnesota
Records: Winnipeg Jets (26-26-6), Minnesota Wild (25-23-8)
Television/Radio: TSN-JETS,FS-N (HD),FS-WI (HD)/ TSN 1290 Radio
The Story: It might not be a Stanley Cup Finals preview but nonetheless, the Winnipeg Jets will try to get over a mid-February slump tonight when they visit the struggling Minnesota Wild.
After Tuesday night’s discouraging 3-1 loss to the New York Islanders, the Jets find themselves stuck in 10th place in the Eastern Conference with 58 points and are four points back of the Toronto Maple Leafs for the 8th and final playoff spot. More disturbingly, the Jets are now seven points behind the Florida Panthers for the Southeast Division lead, having played one more game than the Panthers.
The Jets and Wild will meet for the second time this season tonight in a game that is expected to draw hundreds (thousands?) of visiting Jets fans from Winnipeg. The first meeting between the Jets and Wild was back on December 13th at the MTS Centre, a game that the Jets won 2-1. Back then, the Wild were in 1st place in the Western Conference but now they are in the middle of a slow burn that has seen them fall to 12th place. Since December 13th, the Wild have a compiled an atrocious record of 6-15-3, which includes their current four game losing streak that has featured two (yes, two) 3-1 losses to the lowly Columbus Blue Jackets.
If you’re expecting goals tonight, well, then you might want to curb your enthusiasm. The Jets are ranked 25th in the NHL with 137 goals scored (2.36 goals/game) while the Wild are ranked 29th in the NHL with 121 goals scored (2.16 goals/game). The Wild’s Dany Heatley has the most points of any player on either team with 40, which is only good for 62nd most in the NHL.
Chris Mason will start in goal for the Jets tonight.
Projected Jets line combinations:
1st: Andrew Ladd-Bryan Little- Blake Wheeler
2nd: Evander Kane- Alexander Burmistrov- Kyle Wellwood
3rd: Tanner Glass- Jim Slater- Chris Thorburn
4th: Tim Stapleton- Nikolai Antropov -Antti Miettinen
Dustin Byfuglien- Tobias Enstrom
Mark Flood/Randy Jones-Mark Stuart
Johnny Oduya-Ron Hainsey
According to Michael Russo of the Minneapolis Star Tribune Niklas Backstrom will be in net for the Wild.
Minnesota Wild: Dany Heatley (19 goals, 21 assists, 40 points), Mikko Koivu (nine goals, 26 assists, 35 points), Matt Cullen (18 goals, 11 assists, 29 points)
Winnipeg Jets: Blake Wheeler (10 goals, 28 assists, 38 points), Evander Kane (19 goals, 13 assists, 32 points), Kyle Wellwood (11 goals, 21 assists, 32 points)
Minnesota Wild: Pierre-Marc Bouchard (concussion), Guillaume Latendresse (concussion), Clayton Stoner (hip), Cal Clutterbuck (charley horse).
Winnipeg Jets: Zach Bogosian (day-to-day)
Who’s Next: The Jets next game is on Friday, February 17th, at home, against the Boston Bruins (7:00 p.m. CST).
QUICKIES……The Jets power play is ranked 20th in the NHL. The Jets have scored 30 power play goals this year in 178 chances….. The Jets penalty kill is ranked 17th in the NHL (81.6%)….. Ron Hainsey has the best plus/minus on the Jets at +11…..Pick up your official Illegal Curve New Era 5950 Fitted Hat, available online or at City Haul on 823 Corydon Avenue…..