Video: PREGAME | Andrew Copp
The Jets (37-17-9) have had two days of practice since dropping a 6-5 decision to the Nashville Predators on Tuesday.
That has offered plenty of time for Nikolaj Ehlers to get to know his new line mate, Paul Stastny.
"He's a Manchester United fan, I don't like that. I'm a Chelsea fan," said Ehlers with a grin.
"I think as a line we created some chemistry pretty quick. He's an easy player to play with. There's not much you need to do to be able to play with a guy like him, or need to change.
"He came in and worked hard, and played the right way… Now it's just a matter of trying to continue that."
The trio of Ehlers, Stastny, and Patrik Laine combined for two goals and six points Tuesday night, and head coach Paul Maurice feels there are things the young wingers can learn from the veteran Stastny. One of them, that doesn't necessarily only apply to Ehlers and Laine, but to all young players, is what Maurice calls 'offensive confidence.'
"There's a patience to his game on where there's offence, and where there's not offence," said Maurice. "The guy knows he's going back on the ice so he doesn't have to prove to anybody that he can do some certain offensive things.
"The young guys come in at times, because that's what they're selling to the team, they feel they have to show it every time. They've been able to do it in the past, or when they tried to make a play that was really not the right play to make, there was no cost to it. Here, there's a cost.
"You throw it into the middle when there's no place to put it, and you've got a real problem going the other way. The veteran guys, they learn when to do it, and when not to do it. A big part of offensive confidence is the plays you don't feel you have to make, that you don't force. He's got that in his game."
Video: PREGAME | Paul Maurice
Once again, the Jets' morning skate didn't include full line rushes, as six regulars (Stastny, Dustin Byfuglien, Tyler Myers, Bryan Little, Matt Hendricks, and Connor Hellebuyck) didn't take part.
This is what the Jets line-up could look like tonight, based on the line rushes at yesterday's practice:
Tonight's game is stop number three on a five-game road trip for the Red Wings, who are coming off a 2-1 loss to the St. Louis Blues on Wednesday.
The Detroit roster could get a bit of a boost, as defenceman Mike Green is expected to return to action after missing seven games with a neck injury.
"We know we need to be hard on their D and make them turn, and put heavy pressure on them in their zone. We know their D is going to be active, every team is," said Copp. "Obviously he's probably the most active one in that group, and it'll help their power play a little bit. So maybe a little bit of an adjustment on the PK, but other than that, it's the same game for us."
Video: PREGAME | Nikolaj Ehlers
With four Central Division teams in action tonight - including the Predators, who lead the Division by six points - the Jets are eager to erase the memory of Tuesday's loss by wrapping up a two-game home stand on the right note.
"I've always said we have to win no matter what. If it's our division or not, it's two points on the line, and we have to go get them," said Ehlers. "It's going to be like that now, and it's going to be like that at the end of the season. We've got to win tonight."
Hellebuyck (32-10-8, 0.922 save percentage) is expected to start in goal for the Jets, with puck drop set for 7 pm CT.
Video: INJURY UPDATE | Steve Mason
Steve Mason will play for Winnipeg's AHL affiliate, the Manitoba Moose, on Saturday - and possibly Sunday - as the 29-year-old inches closer to a return from his second concussion of the season.
The injury occurred during a morning skate in Chicago on Jan. 12.
"Much like the first one, the symptoms kind of came on as the day progressed. They lingered quite a bit longer than the original one this year," said Mason. "With these things you never know how long it's going to take. You have to try and stay patient and try and stay engaged. It's tough at times.
"It's been just an overall long year. Being out of the line-up so much, it's not fun. But that's the way the cards have fallen this year. You deal with that, and I'm just excited to finally be almost getting into game action here."
Mason has been sporting a new mask in practice the last couple weeks. He says it has "a better shell, better construction, and better padding in it," despite it being the same shape as the one he's worn for multiple seasons.
The toughest part about the recovery this time around was getting used to seeing shots again.
"After being off the ice for so long, and more so now on the ice not flinching when a puck is coming. When I first got back on the ice, that's what I found myself doing, was pulling away from the puck," said Mason. "Obviously as a goaltender you can't be doing that. It was just a matter of feeling comfortable again, and I'm at that point now where I'm feeling good about my game and it's good to get back into some game action."
After the weekend, Mason says the plan is for him to meet the team in New York, as the Jets continue a season-long six-game road trip.
- Mitchell Clinton, WinnipegJets.com
JETS GAME NOTES
The Winnipeg Jets play the second game of a two-game homestand tonight against the Detroit Red Wings…The Jets lost 6-5 to the Nashville Predators in the first game of the homestand on Tuesday night…After tonight's game, the Jets embark on a season-high six-game road trip, with five games against Metropolitan Division teams and the last game in Nashville.
Jets vs. Red Wings Notes
- The Jets and Red Wings split last season's two games, with the Jets winning 5-3 in Detroit, and losing 3-4 (so) in Winnipeg.
- The Jets are 5-3-1 in their last nine games against the Wings.
- Winnipeg is a perfect 14-of-14 on the penalty kill in their last four games against Detroit, but are 1-for-13 (7.7%) on the power play in that same span.
Tonight marks the 12th time Winnipeg has played at home in its last 14 games...The Jets have the third-best home record in the NHL this season at 23-7-2…The Jets have scored a league-leading 123 goals at home this season, including 25 goals in their last five home games…Winnipeg is second in the NHL with a 29.2% power play percentage at home…The Jets enter tonight's game having lost back-to-back home games for only the second time this season.
Facing the East
The Jets are 11-6-5 against the Eastern Conference this season, including a 6-3-2 record versus the Metropolitan Division…Winnipeg has won six of their last seven games against Eastern Conference teams…At 22 games, the Jets have played the fewest games against the Eastern Conference in the NHL this season…Winnipeg plays six consecutive games against the East…Of the 10 road games Winnipeg has left, eight are against an Eastern Conference opponent…Blake Wheeler leads the Jets with 30 points (8G, 22A) in 22 games against the Eastern Conference, which is sixth among Western Conference players.
Flexing Its Power
The Jets have a power play goal in six consecutive games, going 8-for-21 (38.1%) in the process…It's the second time this season the Jets have scored a power play goal in six consecutive games…Overall, the Jets are second in the NHL this season with a power play clicking at 24.7%.
Now That's a Debut!
Newly acquired Paul Stastny made his Jets debut on Tuesday after being acquired from the St. Louis Blues on Monday…He was named the game's second star after tallying a goal and an assist, which ended a seven-game goalless drought for him…Defenceman Joe Morrow also made his Jets debut after being acquired from the Montreal Canadiens on Monday…He played 12:08 and finished the game plus-one with two hits and a blocked shot.
Patrik Laine had two assists against Nashville to extend his point streak to six games…Five of Laine's last six games have been two-point games, giving him 11 multi-point games this season…Laine is two games away from matching his career high of an eight-game point streak, which he has done twice.
Captain Blake Wheeler had an assist on Tuesday to extend his assist and point streaks to nine games (4G, 10A)...His assist streak is a franchise record and second longest in the NHL this season…Wheeler now has 55 assists on the season, which is second in the NHL and a new career high for the 31-year-old…He is on pace for 72 assists this season, which would break Marc Savard's franchise record of 69 assists set during the 2005-06 season.
Beast versus the East
Goaltender Connor Hellebuyck is 9-2-4 versus the East in 2017-18 with a 2.38 goals-against average and a .925 save percentage…His success against the NHL's other conference is particularly evident at Bell MTS Place, where he is 9-1-1 in his 11 starts and he owns a 2.07 GAA and a .935 SV% in those tilts.
Jets vs. Red Wings All-Time Records
At Bell MTS Place: 2-1-1
At Detroit: 5-6-2