GAME 80: BLUE JACKETS VS. JETS
NATIONWIDE ARENA, 7:00 P.M.
TV: FOX SPORTS OHIO / FOX SPORTS GO
RADIO: 97.1 & BLUEJACKETS.COM
When the Winnipeg Jets come to Columbus to play the Jackets Thursday, a season-long streak for one team is going to end.
The Winnipeg Jets, who have been eliminated from post season play, are riding a five-game win streak, most recently having beaten St. Louis Tuesday 5-2. They've gone 8-2-0 in their last ten games.
The Jackets have a streak they'd like to break. They've lost four straight games for the first time this season. Even though the Jackets have consistently won the shot battle in those games, the team hasn't found ways to finish of late
"When we're talking offense you always look to your top guys," Head Coach John Tortorella said. "We don't have a lot of those guys going right now. We haven't in the last little while. I don't think it's a lack of effort for some of them. For some of them I think they're down the wrong road as far as some habits that we've got to get them out of. We have to work at it. As we prepare for playoffs we've got to get that part of the game situated."
Here are five things to watch for:
Jenner at center.
With Lukas Sedlak out of the Jackets lineup, John Tortorella has changed up his players in the middle of the ice. Tortorella said he prefers Sam Gagner on the wing and thus, Boone Jenner has returned to his natural position at center. Tuesday in Pittsburgh was Jenner's first night back in that role when he centered a line with Sonny Milano and Josh Anderson.
Jets' offensive production.
According to datarink.com, the Jets currently have the fourth best shooting percentage in the league (10.0%). They also are the only team to have four players with 60-plus points this season with Mark Scheifele (31-49-80), Blake Wheeler (25-47-72), Patrik Laine (36-28-64) and Nikolaj Ehlers (25-39-64) meeting that mark. Wheeler is also third in the league in points scored in the last ten games with 15.
Speaking of Laine, he is one of the players in the Calder Trophy conversation that is awarded to the League's "most proficient player in his first year of NHL competition." He is 6th in the League and leads the Jets in goals scored (36) and is second in overall points. Laine had two goals against St. Louis Tuesday.
Welcome back, Jack.
Columbus native Jack Roslovic, who was drafted by the Jets in 2015 with the 25th overall pick, was recalled from the Manitoba Moose of the AHL to the NHL team Apr. 3. He did not play in St. Louis Tuesday, but the Moose points leader (13-32-45; 61 GP) will see action against the team he grew up cheering for when the puck drops at Nationwide Arena Thursday.
Re-discover the sense of urgency.
After Tuesday's loss in Pittsburgh, Tortorella talked about how it is human nature to see intensity decline after a team clinches a playoff spot. The Jackets had 11 games remaining on their regular season schedule when they knew they were guaranteed a spot in the post season.
Now Winnipeg comes to town with their own sense of urgency as a team looking to play spoiler. That's a type of incentive that the Jackets have known in the past. The Jackets' captain wants to see his team respond with their own source of motivation to finish out the season strong.
"We know there's some urgency now and maybe that's the best thing for us," Nick Foligno said. "That's what I think is lacking on our team is urgency. I don't know why it's gone away. We have to find a way to get it back."