5 things to watch as Jets look to extend home win streak against Blues
It's the 3rd of 4 meetings between the St. Louis Blues and Winnipeg Jets this season
Tonight the Winnipeg Jets will face off against their division rivals in the St. Louis Blues for the third time this season.
The two clubs met for the first time in the Jets' second home game of the year in October. The Blues beat Winnipeg 4-2. The Jets faced the Blues in St. Louis in the middle of November and lost again 3-2.
The Blues lost to the Colorado Avalanche, another division foe, on Sunday.
Now both teams are looking for a rebound Tuesday night. The Jets have lost two of their five games in December, and both losses came in Chicago.
The Jets squeaked into the playoffs last year and they did it with an impressive record against division opponents. Against teams in the Central Division last year, the Jets went 16-8-5.
This year it has been a different picture. In 12 games within the division the Jets have gone 3-9. The Jets have 17 more games against division rivals and they desperately need to start finding ways to take points away from teams that they will battle for a possible playoff berth.
We've seen that combo for short stints in the past and it led to a beautiful goal by Trouba in a game against Colorado. Trouba took a pass from Buff, danced around Blake Comeau of the Avalanche before pushing toward the top of the circle where he sniped a shot past Semyon Varlamov. It will be interesting to see what kind of chemistry these two physical and offensively talented guys can develop.
Four points in five games is likely a bit of a cold streak for Vladimir Tarasenko. The 24-year-old Russian winger is third in the league for goals with 18 on the season and tenth overall in points with 29. He leads his team in goals and points.
In their two games against Winnipeg this season Tarasenko has three goals and four points and his line averages more than 20 minutes of ice time. The Jets will have their hands full trying to keep Tarasenko and his line mates off the score sheet.
Had to happen to Hellebuyck
It had to happen and this past Friday it did. Rookie netminder Connor Hellebuyck lost his first NHL game. Now with five career NHL games under his belt, Hellebuyck sits with a 4-1 record, a .938 save percentage and a 1.79 goals against average. Those are really good numbers for any goalie, never mind a 22-year-old call up seeing his first taste of the NHL. The two goals that beat Hellebuyck on Friday would have been tough for any goalie to save. Both goals came with Chicago on the power play.
The question now is: does Maurice give Hellebuyck the opportunity to get right back at it with the start on Tuesday or does he give Michael Hutchinson the chance to start to get back to his winning ways.
Chris Thorburn is a favourite in the locker room and a favourite with the fans after his goal against the Arizona Coyotes back on Nov. 21. It was such a nice shorthanded goal that the team's PR staff tweeted out a GIF, dubbing him Score-burn.
Score-burn. <a href="https://t.co/6KzBkvm3cY">pic.twitter.com/6KzBkvm3cY</a>—@NHLJets
We might not see another goal like that from Thorburn on Tuesday, but we will see him hit another bench mark. Thorburn has played 634 NHL games and of that only 41 have not been for the Jets/Thrashers franchise. His appearance on Tuesday night will tie him with Ilya Kovalchuk with the franchise record for games played.
Thorburn is a big piece of this Jets team — his physical play on the ice often sets the tone and Maurice has cited Thorburn as one of the guys in the locker room that is friends with everyone.
There won't be many friends on the ice on Tuesday night. These teams match up well against each other and they'll both be hungry to do whatever is possible to earn two points in the tightly contested Central Division.