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GAMEDAY: Jets vs Canucks

7:00 pm CT - TV: TSN 3; Radio: TSN 1290

by Mitchell Clinton @MitchellClinton /

WINNIPEG - It will be a very different looking Winnipeg Jets (8-7-1) line-up that takes the ice tonight against the Vancouver Canucks (9-3-3).

Some of those changes were clear during Thursday's practice, with Blake Wheeler sliding into the centre position with Bryan Little's injury (and no timeline for his return).

But other changes didn't become apparent until Friday's morning skate that, while optional, was heavily attended - and for good reason.

Both power play units will look quite different tonight.

Video: PREGAME | Josh Morrissey

One unit is comprised of Mark Scheifele, Andrew Copp, Nikolaj Ehlers, Kyle Connor and Josh Morrissey. The other will be Wheeler, Patrik Laine, Jack Roslovic, Mathieu Perreault, and Neal Pionk.

 "I think Wheels has found me a couple times over the past few years. That's something that has been working really well for us," said Laine. "Having (Perreault), (Roslovic), and (Pionk) there, we have a lot of skill on that unit. We can move the puck really well.

 "Hopefully we can bring that confidence and bring the same speed and pace that we just played in. We have to bring that tonight."

Scheifele's unit has him in the left circle and the left-handed Copp in the high slot, where Scheifele started the season in terms of power play set up.

Video: PREGAME | Patrik Laine

The two not only live together but are often running through drills together prior to every practice.

 That chemistry was evident at the morning skate.

 "There is a faith and belief between Mark and Andrew that it can work," said head coach Paul Maurice. "It went bar down in practice today so they were smiling at each other."

 Each unit also has a left-handed centre as well as a right-handed centre, which is important when Maurice decides what side of the ice he wants the face-off to be.

 "Mark gets hot or cold like all centre men do. On the nights that he's off, we have an option to move it to the other side, so we're not as predictable with that unit on face-offs," said Maurice.

 "Blake would have the least experience at centre ice, but Roslovic is a righty and Perreault is a lefty - prior to him moving to the wing was a pretty dominant lefty.

 "We'll start more likely with Scheif and Copp. Then it's fun for the coach because the second unit has some good players - whatever unit that second unit is - they want to go. A little pressure on the first unit to get their business done and get off the ice. It'll be good."

 Video: PREGAME | Paul Maurice

The Jets power play has converted twice over the last seven games and sits 22nd in the NHL at 15.4 per cent. Laine feels that success on the power play can have a positive effect at five-on-five as well.

 "It always helps when you're feeling good on the power play. That's something that is going to win us a lot of games - our power play, and special teams too," said Laine. "That's something we have to focus on more. We haven't been that good on special teams this year. We have to find a new chapter for our special teams and hopefully we're going to do that well tonight."

 At even strength, the Jets line-up is expected to look like this:








Video: PREGAME | Joona Luoto

Lost in all the line-up shuffle is that Joona Luoto - recalled Thursday from the Manitoba Moose with Gabriel Bourque out four weeks with a lower body injury - will become the fourth Jet to make his NHL debut.

"I'm really excited," Luoto said.

"I had a good training camp. I came here and didn't have to stress about anything. I just came here and played some hockey. I think I've played really good and now I'm here."

In nine games with the Moose this season, Luoto has three points and nine penalty minutes.

The 22-year-old says fellow countryman Laine has been a big help.

"I'm living with him and his mom here," said Luoto. "There's a guy that you can talk your native language (with), it's a big help for me. He's taken care of me, sometimes. But sometimes I have to take care of him, of course.

"It's huge to have him here."

As for tonight's opponent, the Canucks are coming off a 5-2 loss to the Chicago Blackhawks on Thursday night. Vancouver is one point back of the Pacific Division lead and former Jet Tyler Myers has four assists in 15 games with the Canucks and is second on the team in average ice time per game at 21:48.

"I've watched them a couple of games. They're a really fast team," Morrissey said of the Canucks. "Their D-men, they have a lot of guys back there that can move with the puck and get up into the play. They've been getting good goaltending as well. I feel all around they're one of the top teams right now in the league for a reason. It's going to be a good test for us tonight."

Connor Hellebuyck gets the start in goal for the Jets with puck drop set for 7 pm CT.

-- Mitchell Clinton,

Game Notes

The Winnipeg Jets continue a four-game homestand tonight against the Vancouver Canucks...The Jets have points in four of their past five games, including starting the homestand with a 2-1 shootout loss to the New Jersey Devils on Tuesday night...Winnipeg entertains the Dallas Stars on Sunday afternoon in the third game of the homestand.

Last Game

Nov. 5 vs. NJD - 2-1 SOL

Jets Scorers: Copp (2)

Devils Scorers: Hischier (2), Gusev (SO)

Jets Goaltender: Hellebuyck (31 sv, 1 ga)

Devils Goaltender: Blackwood (32 sv, 1 ga)

Jets PP: 0-for-1
Jets PK: 3-for-3

Recap: Andrew Copp tied the game with a goal in the second period, but the Jets lost 2-1 in a shootout to the New Jersey Devils on Tuesday night...Connor Hellebuyck made 31 saves, including 10 in the third period...Gabriel Bourque led the Jets with six hits...The Jets won 39-of-59 face-offs (66%).

Three Stars: 1. Blackwood 2. Hellebuyck 3. Roslovic


Point Taken

The Jets have points in three consecutive games (2-0-1) and four of their past five games (3-1-1)...It's their best run since winning four of five games from Oct. 4-12 earlier this season...The Jets have points in consecutive games in which they are the home team for the first time this season.

Extra, Extra

The Jets have played six overtime games this season, going 5-0-1...Four of Winnipeg's last seven games have gone to overtime...Winnipeg is the only team in the NHL to have played at least four extra time games and not suffer a loss in the overtime period.

Lots of Pacific

Tonight is Winnipeg's eighth game against a Pacific Division team this season, which is the most in the NHL...The eight games are part of a 10-game stretch for the Jets...Since the start of the 2017-18 season, Winnipeg is 38-13-4 against the Pacific Division.

Helleva Run

Goaltender Connor Hellebuyck has stopped 92% of more of the shots he faced in seven of his past eight starts...He has a .965 save percentage in his past two starts, stopping 82 of 85 shots...Hellebuyck is sixth in the NHL with a .930 save percentage...His 373 saves are fifth in the league.

On the Draw

Of the eight players that took a face-off for the Jets on Tuesday, six won 60% or more of their draws...Mark Scheifele went 14-for-20 for a 70% winning percentage, while Adam Lowry nearly matched that by winning 13-of-19 face-offs (68%)...Scheifele has won 155 face-offs this season, which is eighth in the NHL...Lowry leads the Jets with a 55.8% faceoff winning percentage, while Andrew Copp is a close second at 55.6%.

Finnish Recall

Finnish forward Joona Luoto was recalled by the Jets today and could make his NHL debut tomorrow...He would become the fourth Jets player to make his NHL debut this season, joining David Gustafsson, Ville Heinola, and C.J. Suess...He'd also be the fourth Finnish-born player to play for the Jets this season...Winnipeg is currently one of four teams in the NHL to have three Finnish players suit up for them this season...So far this season, 29 Finnish-born players have played in the NHL.

How the Jets Were Built

Drafted (13) - Appleton, Connor, Copp, Ehlers, Gustafsson, Hellebuyck, Laine, Little, Lowry, Morrissey, Poolman, Scheifele, Roslovic

Trade (3) - Beaulieu, Pionk, Wheeler

Free Agency (8) - Bitetto, Bourque, Brossoit, Kulikov, Letestu, Luoto, Perreault, Shaw

Waivers (2) - Dahlstrom, Sbisa

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