|Winnipeg Jets||Nashville Predators|
|5-on-5 Close SF/60||30.1||13th||29.9||14th|
|5-on-5 Close SA/60||30.9||22nd||27.6||7th|
|5-on-5 Close Save %||.920||21st||.907||28th|
|# of PP's/Gm||3.25||19th||3.00||28th|
|# of PK's/Gm||3.62||25th||3.07||5th|
Since Paul Maurice took over as head coach, the Jets have racked up a 10-3-1 record that has them one step ahead of Nashville in the playoff chase. The guy who really seems to have benefited from the Maurice regime is winger Blake Wheeler, who has posted 7 goals and 9 assists during those 14 games to take over the team scoring lead.
In goal, however, Winnipeg continues to lean on Ondrej Pavelec, one of the weakest starters in the NHL. According to our pals at Arctic Ice Hockey, however, it appears that the third forward line is the one which Nashville should focus their efforts on:
Third the Turd. Despite the fact that they picked up pluses in the Yotes game (Dustin Byfuglien and Olli Jokien on the Wheeler goal) the Winnipeg Jets high priced third line continues to be a sore spot. They aren't scoring much and they are spending a lot of time hemmed in their own zone. With last change, the 3rd line will be one for the Pred to target.
Thursday night's resounding comeback win over Tampa Bay was a strong way to kick off the post-season push, but it was merely the first step on a long journey. This afternoon's tilt represents one of those critical "4-point games", because not only is it important for Nashville to win and earn the two points, but also Winnipeg needs to lose, and lose in regulation so they don't sneak out of town with anything gained.
The requisite urgency appears to be felt by the team, as we've seen team captain Shea Weber pass up an opportunity to rest in order to practice, and his play on Thursday was as impressive as we've seen all season. Two assists against the Lightning will help him climb the defenseman's scoring list and earn Norris Trophy votes, but what stood out to me was the aggressive defensive play over the final couple minutes - that's when Weber asserted his dominance and denied Tampa their chance to tie the game, by breaking up passes, charging into opportunities to take the body along the boards, and using his long reach to deny opposing puck carriers room to maneuver.
|2013 - Shea Weber||57||15||25||40||-11||32||9||0||3||142||10.6|
Will that tremendous effort by the captain rub off on his mates, and lead to another victory this afternoon at Bridgestone Arena? Check back for the Game Thread and join us at 2:00 p.m. to find out!