The Ducks (10-8-3, 23 points) conclude a brief two-game homestand this afternoon in their annual Black Friday contest against the visiting Winnipeg Jets (13-5-3, 29 points) at Honda Center (1 p.m. PT, TV: Prime Ticket, Radio: AM 830). This represents the 21st Black Friday game in franchise history and the first against the Jets. The Ducks have hosted 17 day-after-Thanksgiving games (all afternoon contests), going 7-5-4 over the previous 16. Anaheim is 9-6-5 overall in Black Friday games.
Anaheim enters the game with wins in three of its past four games (3-1-0) and four of its past six (4-2-0), and has earned points in six of the past eight overall (10 points, 4-2-2). The Ducks have gone 2-1-0 in this portion of the schedule that sees them play five times over a seven-day span. Anaheim will complete the five-game, seven-day stretch tomorrow night in LA in the second half of back to backs. The Ducks are 4-1-1 in back-to-back games this season, including a 2-1-0 mark in the opener.
Though Black Friday afternoon home games have become a yearly tradition, day games in general are usually rare - but not this season. Today marks the first of six afternoon games for the Ducks this season and the first of three held at Honda Center. The Ducks will also host the Arizona Coyotes at 1 p.m. on New Year's Eve and the Chicago Blackhawks (their usual Black Friday opponent) at 1 p.m. on Sunday, March 4. Anaheim's three afternoon road games will take place Monday, January 15 at Colorado (noon PT), Saturday, February 3 at Montreal (10 a.m. PT) and Saturday, February 17 at Minnesota (11 a.m. PT). The Ducks found success the last time they had this many day games in a season - they went 5-0-1 during the 2015-16 campaign.
Today's matchup opens a three-game series between the Ducks and Jets, which continues on Thursday, January 25 at Honda Center and Friday, March 23 at Bell MTS Place (formerly MTS Centre). Anaheim holds a 16-7-3 all-time record against the Jets franchise and currently rides a 10-game point streak (8-0-2) dating to March 31, 2014. Antoine Vermette leads active Ducks in career scoring against the Jets with 17 points (3g/14a) in 33 games.
After missing the playoffs the past two years and five of their six seasons overall since relocating to Winnipeg, the Jets are making a strong case to end their postseason drought. Winnipeg enters today's game with the second-most points in the Western Conference and has won seven of its past 10 games (7-2-1). The Jets have not lost consecutive games in regulation since their first two games of the season and have gone 5-1-0 over their past six games, including a 2-1 victory against the Kings on Wednesday.
Mark Scheifele and Blake Wheeler co-lead the Jets in scoring, each with 25 points. Scheifele's 11 goals are tied for the team lead with Patrik Laine, while Wheeler's 20 assists rank fourth among league leaders. Goaltender Connor Hellebuyck will get the start, according to WinnipegJets.com. Hellebuyck enters the game with an 11-2-2 record, 2.45 goals-against average and .925 save percentage, but has not faced the Ducks in his three-year NHL career.