Video: TSN Pre-Game Report
WINNIPEG - Drew Stafford returns to the Winnipeg Jets line-up tonight as the club opens an important four-game home stand against the Minnesota Wild tonight.
Stafford, 31, has missed the last six games with a lower body injury, and will skate on a line with Mathieu Perreault and Nic Petan. The rest of the line-up remains unchanged.
"When he's played for us he's done a real good job of controlling the puck, and getting pucks to the net, and being a good veteran player," head coach Paul Maurice said. "You can move him around your line-up a little bit. He's a real good utility player, and a real smart player."
Maurice indicated that for match-up reasons, he may end up shuffling the lines as the Jets look for their first win over the Wild, who picked up wins in each of the first two meetings this season.
"They'll definitely capitalize on any turnovers or mistakes on our end. If we're patient, playing that grind it out kind of game, I think we can find some success," said Stafford. "They've been going well, they have a couple lines that have been putting up some good production. We're focused on the defensive zone and making sure we're solid there."
Video: PREGAME | Drew Stafford
The Jets are looking to rebound from Saturday's 5-2 loss to the Colorado Avalanche, a defeat that snapped the club's first three-game win streak of the season.
Up until that point, the Jets had won nine straight over Central Division opponents. Winnipeg is 13-5-1 over divisional opponents this season, but trail St. Louis by three points for the final wildcard spot in the Western Conference.
"It's a divisional game, and points are very important at this time of the year," said Mathieu Perreault. "They're a top team in the league, they play well, and they defend well. This year we've done a good job against the top teams in the league - we get out, we play hard. We're confident with our line-up that we can play with anybody, and that's what we're going to do today."
There aren't many teams the Jets trail in terms of offense this season. Through 55 games, the Jets have scored 159 goals, the sixth most in the NHL. However, the Wild are one of those teams. Minnesota has lit the lamp 170 times, but have only given up 117, the second fewest in the league.
Video: PREGAME | Paul Maurice
"This is a great test for us tonight. They score more than we do, and they're the best defensive team on our side," said Maurice of the Wild, who lead the Central Division with 73 points, and a record of 34-12-5. "The things that we need to improve on as a hockey club are going to get tested tonight."
Maurice believes his team's patience will also be tested, as Minnesota's stifling defensive play has powered them to a 23-4-2 record since the start of December.
"Mentally, you go out there and say 'hey if you play your game you're going to be fine' but if you play your game you're still not going to get anything from them," said Maurice. "But their quickness on the puck in the offensive zone and their size, they've got a real veteran forward group that gets the puck to the net strong. All the things that we need to test ourselves with, and need to improve on, will be on display tonight."
Video: PREGAME | Mathieu Perreault
Ondrej Pavelec (4-3-0, .895 save percentage) gets the start in goal, while Devan Dubnyk (28-9-3, .932 save percentage) will counter for the Wild.
- Mitchell Clinton, WinnipegJets.com
JETS GAME NOTES
The Winnipeg Jets begin a four-game home stand tonight against the Minnesota Wild, who are making their first of three trips to MTS Centre this season…The Jets are coming off a four-game Central Division road trip, during which they won three of four games…The only blemish was a 5-2 loss to the Colorado Avalanche on Saturday afternoon…Adam Lowry scored both of Winnipeg's goals on Saturday…The Wild are in first place in the Western Conference with a 34-12-5 record and finish a four-game western Canada road trip tomorrow…The Jets continue the homestand Friday night against the Chicago Blackhawks.
The Jets are 13-5-1 against Central Division teams this season, including a perfect 6-0-0 at home…Saturday's loss to Colorado ended a nine-game winning streak for the Jets against the Central Division…Tomorrow is fifth of six straight games the Jets play against Central Division teams (3-1-0)…In the month of February, Winnipeg plays seven of its 11 games within the Central Division.
Back Below .500
Saturday's loss dropped Winnipeg's record back below the .500 mark at 25-26-4…It marked the seventh consecutive game the Jets couldn't push their record above .500 (0-6-1)…The last time the Jets were above .500 was Nov. 17 when they had a 9-8-2 record…Overall this season the Jets are 1-9-2 when they enter a game with a .500 record.
Are We Home Yet?
The Jets have played 25 games at MTS Centre this season, compared to 30 on the road…The -5 differential of home games compared to road games is tied for the second biggest in the NHL…The 30 road games are tied with the Boston Bruins, Edmonton Oilers and New Jersey Devils for the most in the NHL this season…The next time the Jets will have played more home games than road games is at the conclusion of a six-game homestand from Feb. 28-Mar. 11.
Special Teams Notes
- The Jets have played 33:19 more on the power play than on the penalty kill at home this season, but have played 44:24 more on the penalty kill than on the power play on the road.
- The Jets have been shorthanded 66 times in the third period this season, which is the most in the league.
- The Jets have given up a 300 shots when shorthanded this season, which is the second most in the NHL.
- Winnipeg has scored a power play goal in four straight games (4-for-12).
- The Jets are an even 18.8% on the power play at home (18-for-96) and on the road (15-for-80).
- The Jets have allowed one power play goal in eight of their last nine games and 10 of their last 12 games, but haven't given up more than one power play goal against in a game since Jan. 3 at Tampa Bay.
Trouba Takes Off
In 40 games, defenceman Jacob Trouba has already matched the 21 points he put up last season in 81 games…He has four goals and 17 assists this season and has scored a point in three of his last four home games…Trouba has a career high 0.53 points-per-game this season and defensively has 21 takeaways, which is 10 away from the career high 31 takeaways he registered as a rookie in 65 games.
Good to Have Goals
Mark Scheifele scored twice against Dallas on Thursday to increase his goal total on the season to 25, which is tied for third in the NHL…He has scored 12 goals in 16 games against Central Division teams, which is tied for third in the NHL for most goals scored in games against divisional opponents…Scheifele is also fourth in the NHL with 19 even strength goals. He needs five more goals to surpass the career high 29 goals he scored last season.
The 40 Club
Of the 40 players in the NHL to reach 40 points so far this season, four are members of the Jets - Mark Scheifele (53 pts), Nikolaj Ehlers (47 pts), Blake Wheeler (46 pts) and Patrik Laine (43 pts)…The Jets are the only team in the NHL to have four players with more than 40 points this season.
Player Quick Hits
- Adam Lowry's two goals against Colorado ended a 21-game goalless drought for him and marked the third time in his career he scored two goals in a game.
- Dustin Byfuglien continues to lead the NHL in TOI at 1,503:34…He's the only player in the NHL to have played 1,500 minutes this season.
Jets vs. Wild All-Time Records
At MTS Centre: 5-2-1