Video: PREGAME | JetsTV Road Report
DENVER, Colorado - Three games in three time zones is a challenge the Winnipeg Jets (15-6-3) will have to face twice this season.
The first of those challenges wraps up tonight, as the Jets face off with the Colorado Avalanche in the first of four meetings between the two clubs this season.
After stops in the Pacific and Central time zones, tonight's tilt takes place in the Mountain time zone, at the Pepsi Center, where the Avalanche are 7-2-1 this season.
"I think you see a team playing quite a bit faster than what we would have remembered from last season," said head coach Paul Maurice. "They move the puck quick, they've got a lot of nice skill. A little bit like our team, a little bit more experience with the puck, some guys on the back end that get involved.
"We spend a lot of time talking about how much room we give the other team to play on. It'll be important tonight that we don't give these guys too much room."
Video: PREGAME | Jacob Trouba
The Jets have won five of their six games against divisional opponents so far, with the most recent one coming in Monday's 7-2 win over the Minnesota Wild.
Defenceman Jacob Trouba, who scored his second of the season in that win, says the key to success against the Central Division so far has been a commitment to their style of play.
"They're four point games, but you don't really change how you play, or do anything out of the ordinary. Just stay with the game we're playing, stay confident in it, and go out there and play," said Trouba.
"Every night we need to use our size. We're fast and we're big. It's something not a lot of teams have. When you have size it definitely helps to use it and use it to your advantage."
Maurice won't mess with that winning combination, and is keeping that line-up together tonight:
The Avalanche (11-9-2) dropped a 3-2 decision to the Calgary Flames in their last outing Saturday night, and will be without captain Gabriel Landeskog tonight, as he serves the first of his four-game suspension for a cross-check on Matthew Tkachuk.
"We had some good practices and were able to get some rest," said Avalanche forward JT Compher, regarding being off since Saturday night. "We're excited for the game. We know the Jets are hot and playing good hockey, so it's going to be a good test for us."
Special teams have been a big part of Colorado's success at home. The Avalanche posses the league's fifth best home power play at 28.2 per cent, while the penalty kill at Pepsi Center is 90.3 per cent (fourth in the NHL).
Andrew Copp says those numbers came up in Winnipeg's pre-scout meeting ahead of today's morning skate.
"All their metrics are really good at home. We know it's going to be a tough test," said Copp. "They're quick. They injected a lot of youth and there is a lot of excitement going on here. We need to be ready for that and get on them right away."
Connor Hellebuyck was the first goaltender off the ice and is expected to get the start. The 24-year-old made 17 saves on 19 shots on Monday, and has a 13-2-2 record with a 0.927 save percentage.
Semyon Varlamov (7-4-1, 0.903 save percentage) will counter for the Avalanche, with puck drop set for 8:30 pm CT.
- Mitchell Clinton, WinnipegJets.com
JETS GAME NOTES
The Winnipeg Jets visit the Colorado Avalanche tonight for a quick trip to Denver...The Jets beat the Minnesota Wild 7-2 on Monday night in a brief return home after a four-game road trip last week...Winnipeg returns home after tonight's game to welcome the expansion Vegas Golden Knights to Bell MTS Place on Friday and Ottawa Senators on Sunday.
Jets vs. Avalanche Notes
- The Jets have points in six of their last seven games (5-1-1) against the Avalanche, including four of five games last season.
- The Jets have outscored the Avalanche 23-16 in the last eight meetings.
- Winnipeg is 5-for-25 on the power play in its last seven games against Colorado...The last time the Jets scored multiple power play goals against the Avalanche was Feb. 8/15 - a span of 11 games.
Tonight marks the Jets' third consecutive game in a different time zone...The Jets played in the Pacific Time Zone on Saturday in San Jose, Central Time Zone at home on Monday and Mountain Time Zone tonight in Colorado...The only other time this season the Jets play in three consecutive games in three different time zones is in January.
Monday's win marked the second time this season the Jets scored seven goals in a game...They also had seven goals in a 7-1 victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins on Oct. 29...Last season the Jets scored seven goals in a game only once - Nov. 8/16 vs. DAL 8-2 W...Since the franchise relocated to Winnipeg in 2011, the Jets have scored seven goals or more in a game eight times.
Get in the Flow
Through December, the Jets play virtually every other day...Aside from the three-day Christmas break, the only other time the Jets have back-to-back days without a game before the new year is Dec. 12-13...Winnipeg is 11-1-1 when having one day between games, while the team is 3-4-1 when having two days or more between games.
Win No. 15
The Jets won their 15th game of the season on Monday against Minnesota, which set a franchise record for the fewest games to reach 15 wins...The Jets did it in 24 games and boast a 15-6-3 record this season...Here's how many games it has taken in the past to reach 15 wins in a season.
Against the Central
After going 19-8-2 against its Central Division counterparts last season, Winnipeg is 5-1-0 against the Central to start this season, picking up three wins against Minnesota and two against the Dallas Stars...The Jets tied for a share of the best record in games played within the Central Division last season, as the Chicago Blackhawks also went 19-8-2 in divisional games...The Jets also had a winning record against every Central Division team, except the Wild (1-4-0)...Dating back to last season, the Jets have the best record in games between Central Division teams at 24-9-2.
Scoring in Bunches
Blake Wheeler (1G, 2A) and Mark Scheifele (1G, 2A) each had three points in Monday's win against the Wild to post their team-leading eighth multi-point games of the season...Their line mate Kyle Connor (1G, 2A) also had three points, which establishes a new career high for him for points in game...Wheeler's third period goal ended a 10-game goalless drought.
Blake Wheeler had two primary assists on Monday against the Wild and leads the NHL with 17 primary assists this season...Combined with his six goals, 23 of Wheeler's 28 points (82.1%) this season have been primary points.
Wall of Helle
Connor Hellebuyck improved his record on the season to 13-2-2 overall and 8-0-1 at home with Monday's win...He is tied for seventh in the NHL with a .927 save percentage...He's allowed two goals or less in 13 of his 17 starts this season...He has 13 quality starts this season, which is one off the NHL lead of 14...Showing his improvement over last season, Hellebuyck has 9.16 goals saved above average this season, compared to -9.96 last season - an improvement of 19.12...Hellebuyck's .824 win percentage is first in the NHL among goalies that have made at least 15 starts.
Jets vs. Avalanche All-Time Records
At Bell MTS Place: 8-2-1
At Pepsi Center: 9-5-5