The Winnipeg Jets have found themselves in a slump lately, having not claimed a win in regulation since Feb. 20. While their core players are still granting the team the skill and drive that they need, the Jets now sit in the second wild card spot for the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
The Jets will prepare to take on the Edmonton Oilers on Friday who are coming off a dominant win over the Toronto Maple Leafs. Will this game be a turning point for the Jets or will the slump continue? Keep reading for a preview of what to expect come puck drop.
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Winnipeg Jets Projected Lines
Kyle Connor – Mark Scheifele – Blake Wheeler
Nino Niederreiter – Adam Lowry – Nikolaj Ehlers
Morgan Barron – Kevin Stenlund – Karson Kuhlman
Saku Maenalanen – David Gustafsson – Sam Gagner
Josh Morrissey – Dylan DeMelo
Brenden Dillon – Neal Pionk
Logan Stanley – Nate Schmidt
Edmonton Oilers Projected Lines
Zach Hyman – Connor McDavid – Derek Ryan
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins – Leon Draisaitl – Kailer Yamamoto
Warren Foegele – Ryan McLeod – Mattias Janmark
Devin Shore – Derek Ryan – Klim Kostin
Cody Ceci – Darnell Nurse
Evan Bouchard – Mattias Ekholm
Vincent Desharnais – Brett Kulak
Jets Extend Losing Streak to Four Games
While the Jets definitely put up more of a fight on Tuesday (Feb. 28) after losing to the Los Angeles Kings 6-5 in a shootout, there’s no denying the facts – they have now lost four in a row. The team that seemed to be soaring through the first half of the season is definitely struggling now. Earning a point in the last game should boost their confidence, but things need to change… and quick.
On Tuesday, Anze Kopitar scored four goals for the Kings and Josh Morrissey had his first-ever four-point game in the NHL with two goals and a pair of assists.
No. 44 remained optimistic after the Jets earned a point against the Kings saying, “I don’t have a huge problem with the way we competed and the way we played.” He continued, “There’s some mistakes clearly that we need to clean up. Some tip goals and stuff like that, but the compete was there, the effort was there. It’s a team we are fighting with. It’s an intense game. You know, you get the lead and you want to keep it.”
The other three goals for the Jets came from Kyle Connor with one, and Kevin Stenlund with two. The Jets’ new forward Nino Niederreiter, acquired from the Nashville Predators in exchange for a second-round pick in the 2024 NHL Draft, played his first game with the team. While he didn’t earn a point, he did have five hits in 18:13 of ice time.
Jets’ coach Rick Bowness praised his team after the game saying, “It was a big thing we did yesterday and this morning – attack the net. And I thought we did a much better job of that. We gotta keep doing it. Greasy goals are scored right there. You’ve gotta get in there.”
Related: 3 Things Jets Must Do to Recapture Success in March
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In the Jets’ 4-0 loss to the New York Islanders on Sunday (Feb. 26), Morrissey thought they needed to play better in the first period. This is something they definitely improved upon in their next game, closing out the first with a score of 2-0 over the Kings.
If the Jets can continue to recognize their faults and capitalize on their chances, it’s possible the matchup against the Oilers could be their turning point.
Oilers Add Mattias Ekholm, Patrik Puistola; Trade Tyson Barrie, Jesse Puljujarvi & More
With the trade deadline looming, there has been no shortage of exciting moves and pickups around the league and the Oilers are no exception. The team acquired Mattias Ekholm from the Nashville Predators on Tuesday in exchange for Tyson Barrie and in another move, they traded Jesse Puljujarvi for Patrik Puistola.
Ekholm was selected in the fourth round of the 2009 NHL Draft by the Predators, and has since earned 268 points (62 goals, 206 assists) in 719 games with the team. The defenseman also recorded 35 points (six goals, 29 assists) in 75 Stanley Cup Playoff games with the Predators. He already earned a point in his first appearance in an Oilers jersey in the team’s 5-2 win over the Maple Leafs on Wednesday (March 1).
The 32-year-old expressed his excitement about joining the Oilers saying, “There is a lot of new stuff going on right now, but the initial thought is that I’m super excited. I know Edmonton is one of the top teams in the League and have some top offensive skill on their team, if not the best.”
As for Puistola, the winger has yet to play a game in North America, let alone the NHL, but he has tallied 38 points (15 goals, 23 assists) in 56 games with Jurkurit Mikkeli in Finland this season. He also represented Finland in the 2020 IIHF World Junior Championship where he earned eight points (five goals, three assists) in seven games.
The Oilers made more moves on Thursday (March 2), acquiring forward Nick Bjugstad and defenseman Cam Dineen from the Arizona Coyotes in exchange for defenseman Michael Kesselring and a 2023 third-round pick.
The trade deadline is always an exciting time of year for hockey fans, and it will be interesting to see if these players can bring something noteworthy to the Oilers’ roster.
Players to Watch
Do I even have to explain why Connor McDavid is a player to watch in this one? No. 97 is one of the best players in the entire NHL, if not the best player. The centreman has posted 16 points in his last five games and has 118 points (52 goals, 66 assists) in 62 games.
He has already set a new career high in goals, shorthanded points (5), shorthanded goals (3) and power play points (55) this season. McDavid also leads the league in points, assists, goals, power play points and points per game played (1.90).
McDavid is an absolute sight to watch on the ice. From his playmaking abilities to his wicked shot and speed – he truly is an unreal player.
On Saturday (Feb. 25) the Jets acquired Nino Niederreiter from the Predators in exchange for a second-round pick in the 2024 NHL Draft. The 30-year-old right-winger made his first appearance with the Jets on Tuesday (Feb. 28), but did not tally a point.
During this season, Niederreiter earned 28 points (18 goals, 10 assists) in 56 games with the Predators. As the fifth overall pick in 2010 makes his second appearance wearing the Jets crest, keep an eye on him – he could earn his first point as a Jet in this matchup.
Will the Jets turn things around and get back to being the team they were during the first half of the season, or will McDavid and the Oilers be too much for them to handle? Don’t miss out on the action as the Jets face the Oilers in Edmonton at 9 p.m. EST tonight!