The Winnipeg Jets will look to climb back to an above .500 record when they take on the Calgary Flames Monday night at the MTS Centre.
The Jets (10-10-2) are coming off a heart-breaking 2-1 loss to the Minnesota Wild (6-11-3) Sunday night. Tied 1-1 late in the game, a goal by Wild’s captain, Mikko Koivu, with just 3:12 remaining in the third period, spoiled the party for Winnipeg.
“It was a really tough game to lose cause I thought our guys were really engaged in the game and really wanted to have a good outcome,” said coach Claude Noel to reporters following the game.
With that, here are five things to watch for heading in to tonight’s game:
The loss to the Wild snapped the Jets four-game win streak that dated back to a 5-0 win over Nashville on Nov. 8.
Winnipeg now returns home where they’ve been winners of four straight.
And a win tonight will match the Jets record for consecutive wins at the MTS Centre at five, and bring them within two games of tying a franchise record of seven games (when the team was still located in Atlanta and known as the Thrashers).
The Jets home record this season is 7-5-1. Captain Andrew Ladd leads the team with 13 of his 19 total points happening on home ice.
Winnipeg has struggled in the second game of back-to-back matches this season, having lost both second games they’ve played this year by a combined score of 7-3.
The Jets will look to buck that trend against a struggling Flames team currently mired in a six-game losing streak. Calgary has been outscored 26-12 during that stretch with their last win coming more than two weeks ago.
Fatigue is always an issue when you play two games in two days but that shouldn’t be the case between the pipes. Coach Claude Noel mentioned earlier this week that he would most likely go with back up goaltender, Al Montoya for tonight’s game.
Ondrej Pavelec has been stellar in net of late but three games in four nights is a lot to ask from your No. 1 guy and Montoya has proven he can be valuable relief player. Montoya is 2-2-0 in four starts this year with one shutout, a .924 save percentage and a 2.20 goals-against-average.
Life without Bogo
The injury to defenceman Zach Bogosian (listed as week-to-week) creates a big void on the Jets’ blue line.
Bogosian left with three minutes remaining in the second period in Friday night’s game against Philadelphia with what’s being called a lower-body injury.
He logs a lot of ice time, playing both on the power play and penalty kill.
The quick fix appears to be Keaton Ellerby who has moved to Bogosian’s spot alongside Tobias Enstrom. Ellerby, who was plucked off waivers earlier this month, has averaged more than 20 minutes of ice time in his last two games, five minutes more than his first four games with the Jets.
“I thought Ellerby was really good,” said Noel of his D-man’s play following Sunday’s game. “He played smart. It didn’t look like the extra minutes were really an issue.”
Bogo’s absence also makes room for St. John’s call-up Zach Redmond who made his return to the lineup Sunday. Redmond played 11:25 of ice time in a limited role with the team. It was Redmond’s first game with the Jets since suffering a life threatening injury to his leg last season.
Expect Noel and co. to continue to shuffle the D-men as they attempt to find consistency on their battered blue line.
New vs. old
The veteran Olli Jokinen hits the ice against his former team for the first time since leaving the Flames at the end of the 2011-2012 season.
The big power forward played the better part of four seasons with Calgary, where he scored 59 goals and chipped in 106 assists in 236 regular season games.
Jokinen is having his best season with the Jets following a disappointing 2012-2013 campaign. He went pointless in last night’s loss but entered the contest with five points in his previous four games.
Sounds like the perfect game for Jokinen to get things back on track.
He may only be 19 but Sean Monahan has been one of the Flames most dominant players this season.
Monahan was drafted in the first round, 6th overall, in the 2013 NHL Entry Draft this past summer.
Standing at 6’ 2” and weighing in at 185 pounds, Monahan has made a quick transition to the NHL from the Ottawa 67s of the Ontario Hockey League.
The Brampton, Ont. native is second in goals (8) and points (13) amongst NHL rookies and will surely be a candidate for the Calder Trophy, awarded to the league’s top first-year player.
The Jets missed out on the young gun by seven picks in the draft, but you can bet they’ll be paying plenty attention to him tonight. Monahan centres the Flames top line between Mike Cammalleri and Jiri Hudler who have combined for 24 of the team’s 54 goals on the year.
Prediction: 3-2 Jets
It will be the Jets third game in four nights. Luckily, it comes against a struggling Flames team who’ve been worse than terrible on the road.
The Jets will lean on the home advantage, squeezing out a close win.