LITTLE IS BACK
Bryan Little makes his 2019-20 season debut tonight after missing the first nine games with a concussion. Little automatically helps the team in the defensive end and with the 12-year veteran stepping between Kyle Connor and Nikolaj Ehlers, that gives Paul Maurice some options. Reuniting Andrew Copp with Adam Lowry plus adding Jack Roslovic to that line means the Jets coach can essentially throw out three different lines against Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl. Mark Scheifele, Blake Wheeler and Patrik Laine will get the most looks against the NHL's leading scorer as is the case on most nights for the Jets top line.
POOLMAN GETTING MORE COMFORTABLE
Josh Morrissey has had a few different defence partners this season since the departure of long-time partner Jacob Trouba. It looks like Tucker Poolman has found a home beside Morrissey and with that the 26-year-old will get a lot of looks at the guy in the white jersey wearing number 97.
"He keeps it simple but something people take for granted is his ability to make good plays with the puck," said Morrissey after practice on Saturday.
"He plays physical and made a big hit last game. He's a big guy that has a long reach to get around."
BIGGEST CHALLENGE YET
The Jets young defence will have their hands full with the two-time Hart Trophy winner McDavid making his only appearance at Bell MTS Place tonight. McDavid is tied with Capitals defenceman John Carlson for the scoring lead in the league with 17 points. The Oilers star had eight points (2G, 6A) in the three meetings between the two teams last season.
"We understand with a team that has a Crosby on it or a McDavid on it, they are going to get theirs," said Maurice.
"We know this because its happened every game since they came into the league. The question is how much will you feed them?"
Although the Jets have dropped three in a row on home ice, Thursday's loss to the Islanders was full of positives. Not only did they hold the Islanders to 26 shots and on top of that they surrendered just seven high danger chances. Considering Winnipeg gave up 21 high danger chances when the Islanders and Jets met on the Island back on October 6th, improvements have been made in the Jets end of the rink.
The Islanders had one man advantage and that ended up in the back of the Jets net when Matthew Barzal scored 16 seconds into Dmitry Kulikov's tripping penalty during the second period Thursday night. Winnipeg is 1-5 in games that they allow one or more power play goals. Paul Maurice says that he is looking at the PK as a version of the teams defence.
"We had basically five (penalty) killers leave us (Myers, Trouba, Byfuglien, Chiarot and Tanev) and we've got brand new people," said Maurice on Saturday.
"Some have done it before and if you're looking at units of four, every one of them is brand new. So getting them in sync and then confident, it's just going to take some time."