WINNIPEG - On a night when the Winnipeg Jets will induct former captains Thomas Steen and Randy Carlyle into the team's Hall of Fame off the ice, they'll also be trying to earn a fourth consecutive victory with the New York Rangers in town.
The two teams haven't met since the first game of the regular season, which means head coach Paul Maurice won't lean on that early October match-up for much of a scouting report.
"Neither of us knew what our team was after game one. You're still getting into it," said Maurice, adding that he and his staff looked back at the past few games the Rangers played instead.
"They're a version, in some ways, of Chicago. You've got Kane, you've got Panarin, having played with each other, that weak-side seam play they like an awful lot," said Maurice.
"Our style of hockey against this team will have to match the second and third period against Chicago."
Video: PREGAME | Paul Maurice
The Jets (29-23-5) currently hold the second wildcard spot in the Western Conference, but know they have to continue playing at a high level in order to stay in the playoff picture.
With the Rangers (27-23-4) 11 points back of a spot in the Eastern Conference, both teams will come into Bell MTS Place desperate for two points.
"They have some dynamic forwards up front," said Kyle Connor. "They can make plays and they're one of those teams that they're not afraid to. They're on the outside looking in at a playoff spot. They can be a pretty dangerous team. We have to pay attention to that. They have some skilled defencemen as well, so we just have to compete hard tonight."
There won't be any changes to the Jets line-up after a pair of 5-2 victories this past weekend over the Ottawa Senators and Chicago Blackhawks.
Connor Hellebuyck gets the start in goal with the projected lines in front of him expected to look like this:
One thing the Jets will have to keep an eye on against the Rangers is the fact New York's power play has been on a tear since the calendar flipped to 2020. They have 14 goals on 41 opportunities, making their power play the most efficient in the NHL in that span (39 per cent).
Video: PREGAME | Andrew Copp
Artemi Panarin leads the Rangers in power play points with 18.
"That Panarin guy, he's pretty good," said Andrew Copp.
"We'll try and put him in situations where he's not going to be as dangerous. There is going to be an open guy out there somewhere. But we'll try and limit his opportunities of walking into shots and getting into the high-danger area in the middle.
"They've got weapons everywhere. (Mika) Zibanejad is one of the most underrated players in the league. (Tony) DeAngelo works really well up top. We'll have our hands full tonight. We'll just dictate the same way we've been doing."
Winnipeg's penalty kill shouldn't be brushed to the side in this match-up, though.
Video: PREGAME | Kyle Connor
Since January 6 - coincidentally also the date that Copp returned to the line-up - the Jets penalty kill is the eighth best in the NHL.
It was also a shorthanded goal, that Copp assisted on, that helped turn the momentum in Sunday's win over Chicago.
"We just haven't been making mistakes," said Copp.
"We've been pretty solid. Our entries have been good. We've been dictating where the puck goes on their PP a bit. We've been getting in lanes. We've been good in face-offs, hard and strong on clearing the puck."
Video: PREGAME | Neal Pionk
With the Rangers in town, that also means that former Jets Jacob Trouba and Brendan Lemieux are in the Manitoba capital.
Copp - a long-time friend of Trouba dating back to their time in the United States National Team Development Program - had his friend over for dinner last night.
"We had some dinner, hung out, good to spend some time together for sure," said Copp. "We weren't doing a whole lot of catching up. We talk all the time, so it's just another day hanging out. It was great to see him."
Puck drop is set for 7 pm CT.
Luca Sbisa and Tucker Poolman both took part in the morning skate in regular jerseys. Maurice indicated neither of them would play tonight but in terms of injured Jets ready to make a return, those two are the closest.
-- Mitchell Clinton, WinnipegJets.com
The Winnipeg Jets continue a six-game homestand tonight by welcoming the New York Rangers to Bell MTS Place for the only time this season...The Jets are 2-0-0 during the homestand so far after 5-2 wins against the Ottawa Senators and Chicago Blackhawks on the weekend...The Jets continue the homestand on Friday against the San Jose Sharks.
Feb. 9 vs. CHI - 5-2 W
Jets Scorers: Connor (27, 28), Wheeler (17), Copp (10), Laine (24)
Blackhawks Scorers: Kubalik (22), Saad (16)
Jets Goaltender: Connor Hellebuyck (24 sv, 2 ga)
Blackhawks Goaltender: Corey Crawford (31 sv, 3 ga)
Jets PP: 1-for-6
Jets PK: 3-for-3
Recap: The Jets erased a 2-0 second period deficit with five unanswered goals en route to a 5-2 win against the Chicago Blackhawks on Sunday...Kyle Connor paced the Jets with two goals and an assist, while Andrew Copp (1G, 1A), Patrik Laine (1G, 1A), and Mark Scheifele (2A) each had two points...Connor Hellebuyck made 17 saves in the second and third periods as part of a 24-save effort.
Three Stars: 1. Copp 2. Wheeler 3. Crawford
READ THE GAME NOTES
Winnipeg is 14-12-3 at home this season and are in a stretch of nine of 10 games at Bell MTS Place...The Jets are in the midst of a six-game homestand, which is their longest homestand of the season at Bell MTS Place...The Jets are 3-0-1 in their past four home games...Kyle Connor leads the Jets in scoring at home with 29 points (15G, 14A) in 29 games...Patrik Laine leads the Jets with 15 goals at home.
Setting the Limit
The Jets have held their opponent to two goals in each of their past six games...The 12 goals Winnipeg has allowed since Jan. 31 ranks tied for 10th in the NHL in fewest goals allowed and the two goals against per game is fifth...The Jets have gone 21-3-2 this season when allowing two goals or less and the 26 occurrences ranks tied for fifth in the NHL...This is Winnipeg's longest streak of allowing two goals or less since relocation in 2011.
Andrew Copp has five points (3G, 2A) in his past five games, including two two-point games in his past three outings...Copp is one goal behind the career high 11 goals he scored last season...He needs eight assists and seven points to match the career high for assists (19) and points (28) he posted during the 2017-18 season.
Kyle Connor was named the NHL's Second Star of the Week on Monday after leading the NHL with eight points (3G, 5A) last week to help Winnipeg to a 3-0-1 record as the club's point streak reached five games (4-0-1)...On Thursday, the Jets forward had an assist in the Jets' 4-2 victory over the St. Louis Blues...On Saturday, Connor recorded four points (1G, 3A) in Winnipeg's 5-2 win over the Ottawa Senators...The Shelby Township, Mich. native finished the week with three points (2G, 1A) in the Jets' come-from-behind 5-2 victory over the Chicago Blackhawks.
Helle on Fire
Since representing the Jets as part of the Central Division team in the 2020 NHL All-Star Game, Connor Hellebuyck has gone 3-0-1 with a 1.99 goals-against average and .942 save percentage...He's stopped 131 of the 139 shots directed his way and has posted a .942 save percentage or better in each start.
Patrik Laine is averaging a point per game since Jan. 9 with 13 points (9G, 4A) in 13 games...He's averaging a goal per game for his past nine games and has five goals in his past three games...February has been a very productive month during his career with 26 goals and a 23.0% shooting percentage in 40 games...Laine is one goal shy of reaching 25 goals for the fourth consecutive season to start his NHL career.
How the Jets Were Built
Drafted (14) - Appleton, Connor, Copp, Ehlers, Harkins, Hellebuyck, Laine, Little, Lowry, Morrissey, Niku, Poolman, Scheifele, Roslovic
Trade (3) - Beaulieu, Pionk, Wheeler
Free Agency (8) - Bitetto, Bourque, Brossoit, Chibisov, Kulikov, Letestu, Perreault, Shaw
Waivers (3) - Dahlstrom, Sbisa, Shore