The Central Division-leading Winnipeg Jets take on the Washington Capitals on Sunday as they return home after playing two on the road. They hope to continue their promising performance this season as they face Capitals talents including Alexander Ovechkin and T.J. Oshie. Before the clock starts ticking on Sunday night, let’s take a look at what to expect for this exciting matchup.
Winnipeg Jets Projected Lines
Kyle Connor – Pierre-Luc Dubois – Michael Eyssimont
Cole Perfetti – Mark Scheifele – Blake Wheeler
Morgan Barron – Adam Lowry – Jansen Harkins
Axel Jonsson-Fjallby – David Gustafsson – Sam Gagner
Josh Morrissey – Dylan DeMelo
Brenden Dillon – Neal Pionk
Dylan Samberg – Nate Schmidt
Washington Capitals Projected Lines
Alex Ovechkin – Dylan Strome – Conor Sheary
Sonny Milano – Evgeny Kuznetsov – T.J. Oshie
Marcus Johansson – Lars Eller – Anthony Mantha
Garnet Hathaway – Nic Dowd – Aliaksei Protas
John Carlson – Erik Gustafsson
Nick Jensen – Trevor van Riemsdyk
Matt Irwin – Alexander Alexeyev
Winnipeg Jets’ Logan Stanley Returns and Sustains Lower-Body Injury
On Thursday (Dec. 8), Logan Stanley hit the ice for the first time since sustaining a fractured foot when blocking a shot against the St. Louis Blues on Oct. 24. The Waterloo native earned an assist on Pierre-Luc Dubois’ ice breaker in his first game back since the injury.
To make room for Stanley on the roster, the Jets re-assigned forward Dominic Toninato to the Manitoba Moose of the American Hockey League (AHL). He played 77 games with the Jets last season, earning seven goals and seven assists. He has only skated in four games this season where he earned one assist.
After the Blues game, Jets coach Rick Bowness touched on Stanley’s return to the lineup in his postgame press conference saying, “We wanted to get Logan back in. He’s a big physical presence back there for us. So, I mean he played well before he got hurt and it wasn’t that Dylan [DeMelo] was playing poorly—‘cause he wasn’t, he had a goal and an assist in the last game—but we wanted to get Logan in there because of his size and physicality.”
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Unfortunately Stanley’s return did not last long. On Friday night (Dec. 9) he sustained a lower-body injury against the Chicago Blackhawks and did not return to the lineup.
The 6-foot-7, 228-pound defenceman played 58 games with the Jets last season where he put up 12 assists and one goal. While the team hopes Stanley can start producing more on the ice, staying healthy will be the first step to success.
Alexander Ovechkin Within Less Than 100 of Matching Gretzky’s Goal Record
It’s been a topic of discussion for a few years now – will Ovechkin reach Wayne Gretzky’s NHL goal-scoring record of 894? On Dec. 7, Ovechkin scored two empty-net goals against the Philadelphia Flyers, bringing him within less than 100 goals of Gretzky’s career total.
With 98 goals to go, will the 37-year-old manage to bump No. 99 off the leaderboard? He is also five empty-netters away from beating Gretzky’s empty-net goal record of 56.
Currently in third for the most career goals scored in NHL history, Ovechkin is only six away from taking over Gordie Howe’s record of 801. Captials’ coach Peter Laviolette spoke highly of Ovechkin’s dedication to the game saying, “You watch him every night and how hard he plays, how much he cares. That’s what you don’t see sometimes. You see it because you watch him when he’s on the ice and you see his passion on the ice…He loves the game and he loves coming to the rink and he plays hard every day, he practices hard every day. And it’s been great to be a part of it to this point.”
It’s no question that Ovechkin has been immensely influential in the hockey world, but will he hang around long enough to match, or even beat Gretzky’s NHL goal record? We’ll just have to wait and see.
Players to Watch
If you’ve been watching the Jets, you’ve definitely noticed how key Connor Hellebuyck’s consistent performance has been to their success this season. The 2019-20 Vezina Trophy winner currently has the second most wins in the league (14), only one behind Linus Ullmark of the Boston Bruins.
Despite him having the third-highest ice time in the league (1202:41), he currently has a .932 save percentage (SV%) and three shutouts. To put that into perspective, during his Vezina-winning season, Hellebuyck was first in shutouts with six and seventh in SV% with .922. If the 29-year-old keeps up his steady ways, he will absolutely be in the Vezina conversation for his performance this season.
Centreman Dylan Strome is definitely worth keeping an eye on in this matchup. The Mississauga native signed a one year, $3.5 million contract with the Capitals in July after reaching a career-high 22 goals in 69 games in the 2021-22 season with the Chicago Blackhawks. He has 22 points in 29 games, ranking second on the Capitals in scoring. He is also a menace on the power play, with 11 power-play points. With six goals and 16 assists so far, he has been tough to stop this season.
With powerhouses on both sides of the rink, only time will tell which way the ice will tilt. Tune in tonight at 7 pm EST to see if the Jets or the Capitals will come out on top.