Jets Weekly: Byfuglien, Little, Heritage Classic & More

Welcome to Jets Weekly, where you can catch up on the past week of Winnipeg Jets hockey. From hot topics to news and notes, this is where you can find all things Jets related throughout the 2019-20 season.

Winnipeg Jets Weekly

The Jets had only two games this past week – a nice break after playing ten games in the first two and a half weeks. They took on the Los Angeles Kings on Oct. 22 and performed quite poorly – losing 3-2 and they’re lucky it was that close.

Related: Jets Weekly: Laine, Heinola, Wheeler & More

The Jets went on to have a three-day break in preparation for the Heritage Classic in Regina, Saskatchewan. It turned out to be a cold, snowy night but I will touch more on the game itself later in this article.

The Latest on Byfuglien

TSN’s Darren Dreger reported a growing sense of optimism for Byfuglien’s return earlier this month – that was followed up by Byfuglien’s status being changed from ‘suspended’ to ‘day-to-day’ on most fantasy hockey websites/apps. That does not tell you much and can probably be chalked up to a glitch in the system – but it still got people curious and excited for a possible future announcement from the Jets’ organization.

The Jets were in the news this past week for another waiver claim. This time they claimed veteran defenseman Luca Sbisa off waivers from the Anaheim Ducks. They had previously claimed defenseman Carl Dahlstrom from the Chicago Blackhawks just prior to the start of the regular season.

Whether the most recent waiver claim is a hint towards Byfuglien not returning or Ville Heinola potentially getting sent back to Finland – or just the fact they need as much help on the backend as possible – I think it is safe to say the Jets have not been this waiver hungry since the early days of their return to Winnipeg.

One thing is certain on the Byfuglien front – whether he returns to the NHL or not, everyone just hopes he is healthy and happy.

Little Starts Hot

Bryan Little has now played in just three games so far this season and has had a positive impact since returning to the lineup. He has two points in those three games, including the game-winner in overtime of the Heritage Classic. He has been operating at a Corsi for % (CF%) of 56% so far and he has seen his average ice time (16:47) rise significantly from last season (15:50).

As many predicted, he has been plugged back into his role as the second-line center. He was most recently paired with Kyle Connor and Patrik Laine for their last game, something fans are getting used to seeing. Most of us would like to see some kind of shakeup within the top-six as their scoring has dropped big-time over the last week and a bit.

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Bryan Little scored the overtime game-winning goal in the 2019 Heritage Classic. (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Blake Wheeler has been on a major cold streak – one of the worst we have seen in years – and some think separating him from Mark Scheifele could be the answer. Might we see a reunion of Little and Wheeler on the same line as we were so used to seeing back in the first few seasons of the Jets back in Winnipeg?

Related: Jets | There’s Something Wrong with Blake Wheeler

Jets Win Heritage Classic

After getting shutout 3-0 in the 2016 Heritage Classic against the Edmonton Oilers, the Jets were able to get a big win this time around against a tough Calgary Flames team. It was looking like it could be a repeat of 2016 after the Jets were down 1-0 in the third period. Fans had to endure five straight periods of Heritage Classic hockey without witnessing a Jets goal.

Josh Morrissey finally snapped the streak – scoring a power-play goal late in the third period to tie the game at one. Little would get the winner in overtime after some great patience and passing by Kyle Connor to secure the Jets’ 2-1 win.

It was a much-needed victory after a poor stretch of games at Bell MTS Place. Temperatures for the game hovered around minus-three degrees Celcius and felt more like minus-10 degrees Celcius with the wind chill. The snow was falling lightly to start the game but picked up as the game progressed. You could visibly see player’s struggle to handle the puck at times on the snowy ice.

A crowd of over 30,000 people sat in the stands to take this game in and what a great tradition it is. I have heard rumblings of people thinking these types of games are old news but I must disagree. Fans still pack the stands for them and players always rave about what a great experience it was. I say keep the tradition going as this event is a true celebration of hockey’s great past.

Appleton Injured

It was revealed prior to the game on Saturday that Jets’ forward Mason Appleton broke his foot playing football prior to Friday’s outdoor practice. He was seen with a walking boot and crutches and is expected to miss an extended period of time.

This is a huge blow for both Appleton and the Jets. The team was expecting big things from Appleton this season and the Jets’ forward was looking to build off of a strong performance at the end of the 2018-19 season.

The Jets are expected to call up a Manitoba Moose forward sometime in the coming days.

A Look at the Week Ahead

The Jets will now head West on a three-game road trip, starting on Tuesday, Oct. 29 when they face the Anaheim Ducks. That game will be followed up by a back-to-back with the San Jose Sharks and Vegas Golden Knights on Nov. 1 and Nov. 2.

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The Jets start their three-game road trip against the Anaheim Ducks. (Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports)

The Jets went a combined 6-2-1 against those three teams last season. Four of those nine were on the road with the Jets going an impressive 3-1 in those games. Let’s hope they can keep those numbers the same this season and string together a solid stretch of hockey out West.

Related: Jets Weekly: Power Play, Penalty Kill & More

Thank you for reading this week’s edition of ‘Jets Weekly’. Stayed tuned for next week’s edition and as always, feel free to leave any feedback or questions you may have in the comment section below, or follow me on Twitter @Goet91.