The Winnipeg Jets (14-15-5) are looking to turn things around when they visit Nationwide Arena on Monday night, taking on the hometown Columbus Blue Jackets (14-15-4).
The Jets returned home from a long road trip last week, but lost all three of their games against Central Division opponents, picking up one point in the process. The Blue Jackets have done the exact opposite in their last three games, getting big points in New Jersey and New York, before falling in a shootout to the strong St. Louis Blues. Monday’s meeting will be the first of two between the clubs this season. The Jets and Blue Jackets have only met once before, a game back in 2011 in which the Blue Jackets won 2-1.
Monday’s match will see Al Montoya make his first start in four games for the Jets. Montoya relieved starter Ondrej Pavelec mid-way through the Jets’ loss to Dallas on Saturday, and has averaged 2.26 goals against and has a .921 Save Percentage in 9 appearances this season. At the other end will be Mike McKenna, who made his first NHL start in three years just two days ago against the Blues.
The Blue Jackets will bring a banged-up roster in Monday night’s tilt, including two goalies with a combined 1 NHL start between them. Columbus is without Nathan Horton, James Wisniewski, Marian Gaborik, Jared Boll, Sergei Bobrovsky, and Curtis McElhinney. All but McElhinney are on the Injured Reserve. The 30-year old goaltender is the lone exception, he is listed as day-to-day. The Jets biggest break comes as forward Evander Kane returns to the lineup after missing their last 6 games with an upper-body injury. Winnipeg will still be missing Zach Bogosian, Paul Postma, and Jim Slater, who are all on the IR, as well as Matt Halischuk, who suffered a broken arm in Saturday’s loss to the Stars, and was placed on Injured Reserve on Monday morning. The Jets’ Anthony Peluso will serve the first game of a three-game suspension on Monday.
Winnipeg will look to keep their hot power-play going against the Blue Jackets’ 19th-ranked penalty kill. Despite ranking 27th in the entire league, Winnipeg has scored on the man-advantage 4 times in their last 3 games. On the other side of the special teams coin, the Jets will have to stay disciplined, as it was Peluso that cost his team the game on Saturday, taking a 5-minute major penalty that the Stars scored the eventual game-winner on. Winnipeg will have to put a lot of pucks to the goal, in order to exploit the inexperienced Columbus goaltenders. The Jets will also need to play physical, as some of the Blue Jackets’ grittiest players are injured at the time. However, they will have to watch out for players such as Matt Calvert and Jack Johnson, who show a physical side despite their dimensions.
The Jets are an even .500% on the road this season at 7-7-1, while the Blue Jackets hold a slightly better record at home, at 8-7-2. The Jets have fared well against Eastern Conference opponents this season, going 8-3-1, while the Blue Jackets have a 4-5-1 record against teams from the West.
You can watch Monday’s game on TSN Jets, or listen live on TSN 1290 radio. Non-regional viewers can see the game on Fox Sports Ohio. The game gets underway at 6:00 PM Central Time.