RETURN OF MORRISSEY AND KULIKOV
Perfect timing for the home opener as the Jets get their most experienced blueliners back in the lineup. Morrissey missed two games following a pregame warmup collision on Long Island and Kulikov returns following the birth of his and wife Emelie's second child, a daughter. Between the two veteran defencemen they have 854 NHL games on their resume which will help settle things down in the defensive end of the rink. Morrissey is paired with Neal Pionk and Kulikov will skate on his offside with Anthony Bitetto, both are left handed shots.
CREDIT IS DUE
The defence core that went to the ice at PPG Paints Arena in Pittsburgh was young on Tuesday night. So, the win is a big boost and confidence builder for young players like Tucker Poolman, Pionk, Ville Heinola and the team as a whole. They held Sidney Crosby to a goal on four shots and kept the crease clean for Connor Hellebuyck, who saw almost everything that was thrown at him in the 4-1 victory. On top of that, Winnipeg defencemen have scored five of the teams 13 goals this season. Pionk is tied for the team lead with two along with Blake Wheeler.
BOUNCE BACK FOR HELLEBUYCK
Hellebuyck was square to the puck and seemed to be in position for the majority of the night in Pittsburgh. Despite allowing the first goal of the game to Crosby 32 seconds into the game, the Jets number one goaltender looked like the Vezina Trophy finalist from two seasons ago the rest of the way. The Michigan product will start against Minnesota tonight, a team he did not beat last season going 0-4 with a 2.80 goals against average and .911 save percentage.
Winnipeg has one power play goal in their first four games of the season and 11.1% has them 23rd in the league. The Jets have won many a game with their man advantage efficiency so there are big expectations ahead for the top unit of Wheeler, Mark Scheifele, Patrik Laine, Kyle Connor and Morrissey.
The Jets are looking for that winning feeling again at Bell MTS Place where they lost all three of their home games in the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs, some in heart breaking fashion. On top of that they lost their final two regular season games on home ice, a five game losing streak ending in the home opener would be a great way to put their fans in a good place with the winter type weather outside. Winnipeg has won 57 games over the past two seasons at Bell MTS Place and carry a .732 win percentage at home over that time frame.