The long road trip comes to an end in Winnipeg, with yet another matinee matchup. I'm not a big fan of afternoon games , particularly on the second half of back-to-backs, but ... here you go. Hopefully the Blues can adapt and still play a solid 60-minute game. It may be 'just the Jets' ... but these are points within the division that you want to keep to yourself.
The Jets have been one of the surprise stories of the season thus far. In the preseason, the conventional wisdom was that the Jets would only be a contender in the McDavid Division. That was reaffirmed when the Jets lost 4 of their first 5 games of the season. However, they've had some wins to balance that out, including wins over the Hawks and Preds, a shootout win against the Rangers, and a shootout loss to the Pens. All of those points have added up, and the Jets now find themselves with a 10-8-3 record, good for 4th in the Central division, ahead of the Stars, Wild, and Avs. Not too bad, Jets.
The Jets have never had a big problem with scoring. They've had the offensive pop, but just weren't able to keep the puck out of their own net. A big part of this season's success has been goalie Ondrej Pavelec . His career save percentage has been around the .906 mark, but this season he's been at the .919 level, which is a huge difference. Add to that, according to analytics site War On Ice, the Jets have slowly gotten themselves onto the positive side of the corsi balance sheets. A major component of that, of course, is suppressing the amount of shots against your net. So, the Jets are allowing a lesser proportion of shots to go against Pavelec, and his Sv% jumps 13 percentage points. Probably a connection, eh?
We all knew that the Jets would be good - someday. The press in Winnipeg doesn't seem hellbound on running Evander Kane out of town anymore, so that's a plus (although that famous photograph is sure to reappear at any moment). Dustin Byfuglien hasn't been partying like a rockstar, so that's another. The youngsters (Mark Scheifele and Jacob Trouba especially) have started contributing for the big club. A good coach like Paul Maurice is getting the team on the same page. Things are looking up for the Jets.
Let's put an end to that, eh? Their top 3 scorers (Blake Wheeler, Andrew Ladd , and Bryan Little) have been struggling lately, and they are currently riding an 0-21 power play stretch. Jake Allen is in net for the Blues, and presumably Pavelec for the Jets. Hopefully, Jay Bouwmeester is feeling good enough to continue the iron man streak. I'd hate to see that end. This road trip, on the other hand, has gone on long enough. Close it out with a win, boys.
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Final Verse: The second matinee for the Blues, with the puck dropping at 3:30 St Louis time. The GDT should drop shortly beforehand. The TV broadcast will be on FoxSports MidWest, and the radio call will be on KMOX 1120. Come join us for some day drinking and afternoon hockey, won't you?