With only seven games remaining in the regular season, it’s time for the Winnipeg Jets to go hard or go home – literally. The team sits in the second wild-card spot, but with only two points over the Calgary Flames and three over the Nashville Predators, nothing is set in stone.
After the Jets’ 3-0 loss to the San Jose Sharks on Tuesday (Mar. 28), they must get their act together. On Friday, they face the Detroit Red Wings, who will be playing the second half of a back-to-back. Here’s what we know heading into the matchup.
Winnipeg Jets Projected Lines
Kyle Connor – Pierre-Luc Dubois – Mark Scheifele
Nikolaj Ehlers – Vladislav Namestnikov – Blake Wheeler
Nino Niederreiter – Adam Lowry – Mason Appleton
Morgan Barron – Kevin Stenlund – Saku Maenalanen
Josh Morrissey – Neal Pionk
Brenden Dillon – Dylan DeMelo
Dylan Samberg – Nate Schmidt
Detroit Red Wings Projected Lines
Dominik Kubalik – Dylan Larkin – David Perron
Pius Suter – Andrew Copp – Lucas Raymond
Adam Erne – Joe Veleno – Matt Luff
Jonatan Berggren – Austin Czarnik – Alex Chiasson
Jake Walman – Moritz Seider
Simon Edvinsson – Ben Chiarot
Olli Maatta – Robert Hagg
Jets’ Blanked by Sharks as Struggles Continue
On Tuesday, the Jets lost 3-0 to the Sharks, despite outshooting them 40-31, and it was their third shutout loss in their last seven games. With only seven remaining, the Jets hope number seven is lucky this time around.
With the Flames and Predators creeping up on them, it’s time to get down to business. Jets’ head coach Rick Bowness gave some tough love to his players on Wednesday, saying, “Some of these guys think they’re giving us everything in their tank. They’re dreaming. We have a lot of guys in there giving us everything they can. We just need a few more guys to jump on board.”
It’s been difficult for the Jets lately, but it’s not going to get any easier. Tensions will be high when they take on both the Flames and Predators next week.
Related: Jets’ Slumping Core Again Displaying Lack of Motivation, Character
The Jets’ core is also having a rough go. Blake Wheeler hasn’t scored since Feb. 14 against the Seattle Kraken and hasn’t earned a single point in his last seven games. Kyle Connor has two goals in 18 games, and Josh Morrissey is in the midst of his longest stretch without a goal this season at 10 games. Mark Scheifele is another mystery, who I will get to later on.
Tonight’s game marks the beginning of a five-game stretch at home where fans will be rooting for them to secure a playoff spot.
Red Wings Look to Earn Third Consecutive Win
Last night, the Red Wings earned their second win in a row after reigning victorious over the Carolina Hurricanes, 3-2. The outcome wasn’t determined until 3.2 seconds remaining in the third when Jake Walman closed out the game with a buzzer-beater.
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Walman praised former Jet Andrew Copp for his help on the play, saying, “It was like a go-for-broke kind of play. He knew there was not much time left, so he made a really good pass, good screen on it.”
Red Wings goalie Alex Nedeljkovic faced his former team and managed 31 saves, while Dylan Larkin scored on the power play in the second period. The captain now has 28 goals and 15 power-play goals to lead the team.
Before the Hurricanes matchup, Detroit earned a 7-4 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins on Tuesday (Mar. 28), despite that head coach Derek Lalonde was ejected from the game after he challenged for goalie interference and was appalled by the verdict:
The Red Wings are now looking to extend their winning streak to three in the second half of a back-to-back tonight against the Jets.
Players to Watch
Scheifele hasn’t earned a single point in his last five games, with only four in his last 12. He has also been held to three shots in that time, not including the six shots he had against the Boston Bruins on March 16.
Scheifele also has the worst plus/minus rating on the team at minus-19. While the centre still has the most goals on the roster, he hasn’t scored since Mar. 11. Hopefully, he can kick his game up a notch (or five) against the Red Wings.
The 15th overall pick in the 2014 NHL Draft has 72 points (44 assists, 28 goals) in 73 games and has six points in his last five games. Larkin currently leads the Red Wings in points, assists, goals, power-play goals (15), power-play points (28), shots (227) and game-winning goals (4).
This final stretch of the season could not matter more to the Jets. With each game that passes, the playoff clock ticks down. Hopefully, with fans in the stands on Friday night, Winnipeg can get their act together. Tune in at 7 p.m. CT tonight to see if this is the beginning of an upward trend or if the slump continues.