Carolina Hurricanes (3-3-2) at Winnipeg Jets (1-4-1)
MTS Centre, 7:00 p.m.
TV: CBC, FS-Carolinas
Opposing Viewpoints: Arctic Ice Hockey
Winnipeg has not been a good team this year but despite that, my confidence in the Hurricanes winning this game isn't too high right now. Why? Oh, it's no big reason. It's just that Carolina had an overtime game last night, were outplayed for over 40 minutes and had to travel 846 miles to get ready for another game in less than 24 hours. The last time Carolina had a back-to-back it was against Washington in the second game of the season and they managed to at least get a point out of it thanks to a strong powerplay. Tonight, they have a weaker opponent in the Winnipeg Jets but that doesn't mean the Canes should take them lightly. The Blues haven't exactly been a good team and look what happened when Carolina decided to ease up on them. If you're looking for a silver lining in yesterday's debacle, the Hurricanes have "earned" five points in their first three games on this road trip. I'm hoping we see a more full effort from Carolina tonight, especially at even strength where they've been getting shelled all year. Winnipeg actually hasn't been a terrible team when playing 5-on-5 this year (29.9 SF vs. 28.6 SA) but they haven't been scoring at all and their special teams are performing very poorly right now. With how Carolina's been playing lately, we may know what this game comes down to.
There isn't much news concerning tonight's game other than Brian Boucher will likely get the start in net for the Canes because Cam Ward had to face 42 shots in yesterday's game and it only makes sense to put the back-up in now.
More after the jump.
Probable lines and defense pairings:
Ponikarovsky - Staal - Ruutu
Skinner - Jokinen - LaRose
Tlusty - Sutter - Dwyer
Stewart - Brent - Sutter
Pitkanen - McBain
Allen - Gleason
Kaberle - Harrison
Ladd - Little - Wheeler
Burmistrov - Antropov - Wellwood
Scheifele - Maxwell - Kane
Glass - Slater - Thorburn
Byfuglien - Enstrom
Stuart - Bogosian
Getting to know the Jets
I explained this a little bit in the intro, but the Jets have not been getting destroyed at even strength and both their powerplays and penalty kills are putting up very mediocre shot metrics right now. The problem is that this team isn't scoring at all right now (only 1.83 G/G) and that's pretty easy to understand if you look at their lineup. Their first line has only one goal and three points between all of them and their leading goal scorer is a tie between Jimmy Slater and Kyle Wellwood, who have two goals a piece. I want to say that they've fallen victim to the percentages (because that's true) but I have to wonder if this team is producing enough offense to win games. Ladd, Little and Wheeler actually have some good corsi numbers and have been getting sheltered in terms of zone starts so I think the points will come to them eventually. Same goes for Evander Kane and his 0.00 on ice shooting percentage. Antropov hasn't been performing as bad as his awful point total suggests either.
I'm a bit skeptical if things will turn around for them because while I do think that the goals will come for their top-six, none of them have that high of a ceiling and Wellwood has been their best offensive player so far. That and I've been watching some of their games and noticed guys like Tim Stapleton were getting powerplay time. That's never a good sign.
As for their defense, the only player who has been really awful is Johnny Oduya who has seriously took a huge fall from grace ever since being traded from New Jersey. Dustin Byfuglien has also been on-ice for 8 goals against at even strength and I've heard rumblings of fans wanting him to be moved back to forward. Byfuglien hasn't provided much of an offensive presence from the blue-line this season and it's effected Tobias Enstrom's numbers too.
Oh, and their goaltending has stunk. That's also played a pretty big factor.
- I'm counting down the minutes until our first line is shaken up again because ever since Ponikarovsky and Ruutu were put with Staal, they finished negative in corsi and didn't even record one chance for at even strength. Maurice can not let this go on forever and I would expect things to be changed if they continue.
- The powerplay is what's been getting it done for the Hurricanes lately and Winnipeg committs at least four penalties a game so we'll get our chances tonight. My hope is that Carolina turns in a stronger even strength performance tonight because they haven't outchanced an opponent at even strength since opening night. Yikes.
- Allen and Gleason will probably be matched up against the Ladd-Little-Wheeler line because they have been getting tons of offensive zone starts and are technically the Jets first line even if they haven't been scoring.
- Jay Harrison scored his first goal of the season last night and has begun to show much more of an offensive upside than he has in the past. I'm wondering if that's side effect from playing with Kaberle or an effort to cement his position on the team. Either way, I like it.
- The Jets have one defensive line (Glass-Slater-Thorburn) and they give them a ton of starts in their own zone. That makes it kind of odd that Slater is one of their top goal scorers but he's only scored twice and his possession numbers suggest that he's playing the percentages.
- As much as I would love to see the first line shaken up, the second line of LaRose - Jokinen - Skinner has been playing so well ever since they were put together that I don't want to separate them yet. They have been one of the only lines finishing with a positive SC% lately and are always creating offense. However, I wouldn't be against giving Jokinen a shot on the top line since he has been one of the team's best offensive players so far. That or put Ruutu back on this line and replace him with LaRose on the first line.
- Out of both teams, which player gets the least amount of ice time? For me, it's a toss up between Glass, Stewart and Sutter42.