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Travel Day Notebook: Mar. 3, 2021

Road heavy schedule, Stastny's success, and clutch Kyle Connor

by Mitchell Clinton @MitchellClinton / WinnipegJets.com

Following a home stand that saw them earn three wins in four games, the Winnipeg Jets stayed off the ice on Wednesday prior to their flight to Montreal to begin a five-game road trip.

The trip will see them play twice against the Canadiens before three consecutive contests against the Toronto Maple Leafs, who they've only played once this season.

As of Wednesday morning, Toronto (17-4-2) is the only team ahead of Winnipeg (14-7-1) in the North Division standings. That could change by Wednesday night, as the Maple Leafs take on the Edmonton Oilers - who sit one point back of the Jets for second in the North.

An Edmonton win would put the Oilers back into second with the Jets holding what will be three games in hand by the end of the evening.

"Every time you put points in the standings and you see the name of your team moving on up it's a good feeling," Mathieu Perreault said Tuesday night. "This is the feeling that we want to keep around this locker room. It's nice to be sitting there right now and going on the road and hopefully we can keep going up."

Winnipeg's 0.700 point percentage since Feb. 11 is the seventh best in the NHL, with only one team in the North Division better than them - the Maple Leafs (0.722).

Now the team heads out on the road after enjoying the friendly confines of Bell MTS Place, where their record of 9-4-1 (19 points) is tied with Toronto and Vegas for the best record in the NHL.

The Jets play 12 of their next 14 on the road and will look to channel some of the success from their most recent road trip through Edmonton and Vancouver, which saw them earn three victories in four outings.

STASTNY IN THE DOT

Even though he was moved to the wing with Mark Scheifele and Blake Wheeler, Paul Stastny still took eight face-offs in Winnipeg's 5-2 win over the Canucks on Tuesday.

He won six of those, including going 5-for-6 in the offensive zone.

One of those led directly to Kyle Connor's power play goal. At 15:21, Stastny won the face-off immediately after Tyler Myers was called for tripping. Just 25 seconds later, the puck was in the back of the net. 

Video: VAN@WPG: Connor goes five-hole on Holtby for PPG

In the past five games, Stastny has won 45 of the 57 face-offs he's taken (58.4 per cent), which is 14th best in the NHL over that span (and fifth best in the North).

Regardless of whether he's on the wing or playing in the middle, Stastny said the position is fluid depending where his line mates are on the ice at any particular time.

"When you're playing with another centreman and if I'm the first one back, it's easy because I can just play low and (Scheifele) can play wing," said Stastny. "If I'm the first one back, then defensively, it's a little easier, you've just got to take your guy. It's more communicating for me."

The trio of Stastny, Scheifele, and Wheeler out shot their opponents 10-4 at five-on-five Tuesday night and had 71.43 per cent of the scoring chances (per Natural Stat Trick).

In total, three of the Jets four lines on Tuesday were on the positive side of the shot attempt percentage ledger at five-on-five.

Should Stastny stay on the wing, like he has been for the last game and a half, he knows it'll be a work in progress as it's not a position he's played a lot of.

"Sometimes breakouts might be a little tougher, just because you're on the wall. As a centreman, it's a lot easier to be underneath the puck," he said. "When I did make a mistake there once or twice, (Scheifele) just talked to me on the bench and right away, all of a sudden we figured it out the next time around. That's what it takes sometimes. 

"You're going to make mistakes, that's fine. But if you know why you're doing it and know how to fix it, then you're fine."

CLUTCH KYLE CONNOR

Kyle Connor joined the 11-goal club with his power play goal on Tuesday. The club currently has three members on the Jets roster - Connor, Nikolaj Ehlers, and Mark Scheifele.

The goal also ended up being the game-winner, the 22nd game-winning goal that Connor has scored since he came into the NHL in the 2016-17 season.

Since that time, only one Jet has more - Nikolaj Ehlers with 23.

In fact, over that same time span, the Jets have three players inside the NHL's top 21 in that category.

Ehlers is 17th, while Connor and Scheifele's 22 game-winners have them 20th and 21st.

So far this season, the 24-year-old Connor has 22 points putting him in a tie for fifth among left wingers.

His 223 points since his rookie season are also within the NHL's top 20 in that time span. He hopes to increase those numbers as the Jets open the road trip against the Canadiens - a team he's averaging a point-per-game against with eight in eight games.

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