The Winnipeg Jets (16-18-5) look to bounce back after a Christmas holiday, when the Minnesota Wild (20-14-5) visit the MTS Centre on Friday night.
Both teams are making their first appearances since the NHL had it’s Christmas holiday. For both teams, the break couldn’t come any faster: The Jets won one of their last four games heading into the break, including losses to the worst teams in the Eastern Conference (Buffalo Sabres) and Western Conference (Edmonton Oilers). The Wild didn’t find any success on a 3-game Eastern Conference road-trip, losing to the Pittsburgh Penguins, New York Rangers, and most recently, the Philadelphia Flyers. The Wild have won two of their last seven games, with both wins coming in the shootout. The Wild won the teams’ last meeting 3-2 on November 23rd. The lead in the season series between the two clubs is currently held by Minnesota, winning all three games so far this year.
In net for the Jets will be starter Ondrej Pavelec, making his fourth straight appearance in the Winnipeg crease. Pavelec allowed all 6 goals in the Jets’ 6-2 loss to the Edmonton Oilers, making 24 saves in the game. Pavelec has a .905% Save Percentage, and a 2.94 GAA in 31 games this season. It is unclear who will be at the other end of the ice, as Minnesota starter Josh Harding is expected to become active off the IR after a change in his Multiple Sclerosis medication. If Harding isn’t 100% ready, Niklas Backstrom, could make his fourth straight start.The former #1 goaltender has played in only 15 games this season, and has lost his last 7 starts. Backstrom has a .896% Save Percentage and a 3.18 GAA in 15 appearances this season.
The Jets will have a healthy active roster, but will be without Grant Clitsome (Illness), Matt Halischuk (Broken Arm), Paul Postma (Blood Clot), and Jim Slater (Hernia), who are all on the Injured Reserve. The Wild could miss the presence of top-four defenceman Clayton Stoner who will be a game-time decision on Friday with a lower-body injury, and Zach Parise who will not play due to a foot injury. Both did not play in the Wild’s last game against the Flyers on Monday.
The Jets look to keep their surprisingly consistent power-play going, after scoring 7 goals in their last seven games. Blake Wheeler leads the charge on the man-advantage, with 5 power-play goals on the season, and 7 goals and 10 points in his last 11 games.
Winnipeg needs to find success against a divisional opponent on Friday, as the Jets have only picked up 3 of 18 points against the St. Louis Blues, Chicago Blackhawks, and Wild combined this season.
The Jets loss to the Vancouver Canucks on Sunday marked their 22nd one-goal game of the season, with the Jets losing 13 of them.
You can view Friday’s game on TSN Jets, or listen live on TSN 1290 radio. Non-regional viewers can see the game on Fox Sports-North. Puck drop from the MTS Centre is scheduled for 7:00 PM Central Time.
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