Tonight an exciting Tuesday night match up will take place in wintry Winnipeg, as the suddenly soaring Winnipeg Jets have returned home from a very successful road trip to face off against the slowly slumping Detroit Red Wings.
The Jets won two really tough games in the Central Division on Saturday and Sunday this past weekend, winning 3-2 against the Blues in St. Louis and 2-1 over the Chicago Blackhawks. Those teams would usually shred its opponents but the Jets were able to steal two key victories with sheer talent an speed up front.
In last month’s long five-game road trip the lost miserable and failed to score a single goal, so one can understand why Jets fans were surprised by this weekend’s results.
The Red Wings, on the other hand have lost four of their last five games but are hoping that a 4-3 overtime road win over the Metropolitan Division’s basement-dwellers, the New York Islanders, will be a sign of better things to come in the near future if they simply continue to persevere.
The win did boost Detroit’s confidence and record to 12-11-3 and with 27 points, but they are in a tight division and they sit in the bottom half of the Atlantic Division. They’re not in the playoff picture yet, missing a spot by a couple of points, but that can easily change of they put a few wins in their pocket.
The Jets are doing better now at 13-13-2, just over .500 and the Red Wings can expect a full and rowdy crowd at the MTS Centre tonight. Wings coach Jeff Blashill told media that he believed his captain would help turn the ship around, he had special praise for Henrik Zetterberg, 35, who got his sixth goal of the season in the winning effort in Sunday’s game.
“Zee has been real good all year. He just continues to go. He’s one of those funny players that the more ice time he gets, the more juice he has in his legs,” he said in the post-game media scrum.
Blashill wants to get a little payback against the Jets, who were able to score four goals in the third period to beat the Red Wings 5-3 in Detroit last month on Nov. 4. So tonight will probably be a high scoring affair too.
Jets have goalie Connor Hellebuyck, who has stopped 25 of 26 shots in Chicago, and a lot of those were close nail-biting saves as the Blackhawks threw everything at him in a last-minute of play to tie the game. That push included a 6-on-4 advantage during a power play and after putting their goalie on the bench. Hellebuyck improved his record to 10-9-0 by keeping all the shots out.
Winnipeg’s weekend despite winning was a challenging one, since their leading scorer was absent, center Mark Scheifele, missed both games due to a lower-body injury. Currently he is listed as day-to-day, and no one knows when he’ll be back practicing on the ice.
Center Bryan Little scored three goals in four games since getting back to the Jets after missing the first six weeks of the season. Little and Scheifele have only played two full games at the same time this year, so imagine when they hook up and start firing on all cylinders.
Little said both games this weekend were stressful, right up until the end.
“Especially (Sunday) night. Those are four hard-fought points and points that we need right now against good teams. It was definitely closer and much stressful than we would have liked it but it doesn’t matter now, we got it done,” Little told local media.
Tonight should be just as nerve=wracking since these two teams are well matched, but expect the Jets to guard their barn well, and also their rookie, Patrik Laine, to score a few against the Red Wings.