It's the last Jets game before the NHL All-Star Break and it's the third and final meeting between the Winnipeg Jets and the franchise formerly based in Winnipeg. The two previous games were split with both teams winning in their own barns. Arizona downed Winnipeg back on New Year's eve 4-2 but the Jets won the first matchup in November 3-2.
The Jets lost another game on Saturday, falling 3-1 to New Jersey. A game that saw former depth Jet Lee Stempniak, score two goals and increase his season totals to 22 goals and 36 points, good for second in team scoring for the Devils. It was the Jets third consecutive loss and Winnipeg has now gone 3-6-1 in their last 10 games. Meanwhile, the Coyotes have gone 5-3-2 in their first 10 games since January 1st, they hold the last playoff spot in the Pacific Division and are sitting at the top of the pack - in what will surely be a dogfight for the last few playoff spots in the Pacific and also for the wild card - till the end of the season.
Jets captain Andrew Ladd had to face the cameras after Monday morning's practice to answer questions about the reported breakdown in contract talks between his representatives and Jets management. Ladd signed a five year $22 million dollar contract the summer the Jets returned to Winnipeg and has steered the ship since he's been here.
It's been a bumpy year for the leader, after offseason surgery seems to have slowed his start. Ladd is currently on pace to score less than 50 points. The only other season in the last five that he's scored less than 50 points was in the lockout shortened season when he had 46 points in 48 games. With the Jets 3-6-1 in their last 10 games and seemingly continuing to slump, even Ladd had to admit that as hard as it would be to not see himself here after the trade deadline, that in this league, "Anything can happen and things change quickly."
The NHL's attempt to increase fan participation and excitement for the league's All-Star festivities slightly backfired when Arizona tough guy John Scott was voted in as the Coyotes player rep and the captain for the Pacific Division. The story got a little heated after an odd trade sent Scott to the Montreal Canadiens where he was subsequently sent to the AHL. It was reported that league officials had asked Scott to step down but he refused and just last week the league relented and announced that Scott, who's played 11 games and has one assist would still be the captain of the Pacific Division.
Barring any injuries and subsequent replacement players, the only team in the NHL that won't have a player representing their club at this year's All-Star game faces off against the Jets Tuesday night. Players like stud defenceman Oliver Ekman-Larsson (4th in league scoring from blue liners), speedy Danish winger Mikkel Boedker (career year, on pace for almost 60 points), rookie phenom Max Domi (tied for second in rookie scoring) and Shane Doan are all missing a chance to be All-Stars this year.
At 39 years old and with the incredible youth infusion that seems to be having an immediate impact on the Coyotes, it's quite possible to think that this could be Shane Doan's last year in the NHL. Still contributing from the desert dogs third line, Doan in his 20th NHL season has 17 goals and 10 assists. He's fifth in team scoring and is the undisputed leader of the franchise.
Doan was the last first round draft pick from the first Winnipeg Jets franchise back in 1995 and he is the last active NHLer from the Jets 1996 roster. If he does hang up the skates after this season, this is likely the last time he'll skate in front of Winnipeg fans at the MTS Centre. After he ran into Ondrej Pavelec back in November, it could be hard to say if fans will be saying farewell or get out of town.
Rookie Max Domi has been having a dynamite year for Arizona. With 13 goals and 32 points in 47 games, he has instantly helped a team that wasn't pegged at having much success this season to be very competitive this year. Before their game Monday night against Minnesota, Domi was third on Arizona for scoring, behind only Mikkel Boedker and Oliver Ekman-Larsson. The son of former Winnipeg Jet Tie Domi is also tied for second in the scoring race amongst all NHL rookies.
Domi and Detroit's Dylan Larkin are 14 points back on Chicago's Artemi Panarin. Panarin happens to have the good fortune of playing on a line with the top point getter in the league right now Patrick Kane and Panarin is 24 and had played four seasons of professional hockey in the KHL. So while Domi might not end up winning the rookie race, for him to be having the success he's been having in Arizona is even more remarkable.
All indications after Monday's practice pointed to Mark Scheifele being back in the lineup come Tuesday night and his return couldn't come at a better time. The Jets have had too many bodies downed recently and they were not getting enough from their depth players to handle the increased workload.
Scheifele suffered a concussion just after Christmas and the Jets were able to go 3-1 in his four-game absence. Since his injury in the game against Dallas in early January it hasn't been the same story this time. The Jets have only two wins in seven games with their young centreman. Scheifele shuffling back into the lineup now won't cure all that is ailing this team but with Adam Lowry still injured and Mathieu Perreault ruled out for Tuesday's game, having the team's number two centre back can only help. Scheifele looks to be on a line with Nikolaj Ehlers and Blake Wheeler, the trio of skilled forwards should pose a significant threat as they speed towards the opponents' net.