Three Storylines Heading into Jets Rematch Against Senators

After losing to the Ottawa Senators for just the second time this season, the Winnipeg Jets are looking to clean up multiple areas of their game during this rematch against them, which will also serve as the first game of a back-to-back series.

If playing four games in seven nights wasn’t tough enough, Winnipeg will be forced to hit the road immediately following Wednesday’s contest as they’re scheduled to face off against the Toronto Maple Leafs Thursday. Despite this chaotic stretch, this club is set to return to Bell MTS Place on Friday and will begin a six-game homestand starting Saturday night.

Here are three storylines that could impact the Jets’ eighth game of the season against the Senators:

1. Jets Cleaning Up Their Mistakes 

After committing 12 turnovers during Monday’s contest, which led to four breakaway chances for the Senators, the Jets must play cleaner with the puck this time around or they could find themselves trailing in the third period once again. Considering all four of those breakaways were caused by giveaways in the offensive zone, it’ll also be extremely important for this team to maintain possession along the perimeter, especially up at the blue line.

Since Ottawa is tied for the eighth-most takeaways (275) this season, avoiding costly turnovers throughout this game could prove to be difficult for Winnipeg, which certainly wouldn’t be ideal. But if they’re going to be successful Wednesday, they’ll need skaters like Nikolaj Ehlers and Josh Morrissey, who each committed a trio of turnovers last game, to improve their performances during this rematch.

2. Winnipeg Earning Plenty of Power-Play Opportunities 

While Winnipeg is tied for drawing the 11th-most penalties (150) entering Wednesday’s game, they’ve done an excellent job recently of sending their opponent to the penalty box several different times over the last few games. In particular, this club is currently tied for the second-most penalties drawn (19) since Apr. 8, ranking them tied for the second-most power-play opportunities (13) during that same span.

Though the Jets went 0-for-3 with the man advantage against the Montreal Canadiens on Apr. 8, they’ve been much more effective as of late and have scored three power-play goals over the last two games. Since the Senators are currently tied for the fourth-most power-play goals allowed (31) and the sixth-most penalties committed (161) in 2021, chances are this could be another successful outing with the man advantage for the team who wears blue and white.

3. Kyle Connor Approaching 20 Goals, Again

Despite receiving just 18:38 minutes of ice time this season, which is his lowest average since the 2017-18 campaign, forward Kyle Connor is enjoying another strong performance, as he currently leads the Jets in goals (19) and power-play goals (nine). Scoring his 19th goal of the season on Monday, the 24-year-old is now just one goal shy of his 20th marker and could reach that threshold Wednesday, potentially allowing him to cross that mark for the fourth straight season.

Along with hunting for his 20th goal of the campaign, Connor is also just one power-play goal away from passing former captain Andrew Ladd for ninth-most (36) in franchise history, according to Jets PR. Considering the former first-round selection has netted two goals over the last four games, including one power-play goal, he could achieve both of these feats Wednesday night against the Senators.

Lineups: 

Winnipeg Jets:

LW C RW
Kyle Connor
KYLE CONNOR

Rating: 79.5#5 LW

Mark Scheifele
MARK SCHEIFELE

Rating: 76.8#19 C

Andrew Copp
ANDREW COPP

Rating: 72.5#60 RW

Paul Stastny
PAUL STASTNY

Rating: 74.8#36 LW

Pierre-Luc Dubois
PIERRE-LUC DUBOIS

Rating: 74.6#38 C

Nikolaj Ehlers
NIKOLAJ EHLERS

Rating: 75.7#20 RW

Mathieu Perreault
MATHIEU PERREAULT

Rating: 71.1#96 LW

Adam Lowry
ADAM LOWRY

Rating: 69.2#149 C

Mason Appleton
MASON APPLETON

Rating: 69.5#123 RW

Jansen Harkins
JANSEN HARKINS
Nate Thompson
NATE THOMPSON

Rating: 69.4#145 C

Trevor Lewis
TREVOR LEWIS

Rating: 70.1#114 RW

DEFENSIVE PAIRINGS
Josh Morrissey
JOSH MORRISSEY

Rating: 74.1#29 LD

Tucker Poolman
TUCKER POOLMAN

Rating: 71.6#74 RD

Derek Forbort
DEREK FORBORT

Rating: 70.5#109 LD

Neal Pionk
NEAL PIONK

Rating: 75.3#20 RD

Logan Stanley
LOGAN STANLEY
Dylan DeMelo
DYLAN DEMELO

Rating: 71.8#69 RD

Ottawa Senators: 

LW C RW
Brady Tkachuk
BRADY TKACHUK

Rating: 75.0#27 LW

Josh Norris
JOSH NORRIS
Drake Batherson
DRAKE BATHERSON
Nick Paul
NICK PAUL

Rating: 71.2#105 LW

Colin White
COLIN WHITE

Rating: 70.3#129 C

Evgenii Dadonov
EVGENII DADONOV

Rating: 73.1#53 RW

Tim Stützle
TIM STÜTZLE
Mike Amadio
MIKE AMADIO

Rating: 69.2#151 C

Ryan Dzingel
RYAN DZINGEL

Rating: 70.2#117 RW

Alex Formenton
ALEX FORMENTON
Chris Tierney
CHRIS TIERNEY

Rating: 72.2#77 C

Connor Brown
CONNOR BROWN

Rating: 72.6#66 RW

DEFENSIVE PAIRINGS
Thomas Chabot
THOMAS CHABOT

Rating: 74.5#23 LD

Nikita Zaitsev
NIKITA ZAITSEV

Rating: 70.5#97 RD

Erik Brannstrom
ERIK BRANNSTROM
Artem Zub
ARTEM ZUB
Victor Mete
VICTOR METE

Rating: 72.2#70 LD

Josh Brown
JOSH BROWN

Where to Watch/Listen:

The puck will drop at 6 pm CT, everyone better have permission to leave work early, and will be available on TSN 3 along with 680 CJOB.

Arena development paused due to budget issues

After a long spell of radio silence regarding the future home of the Calgary Flames, we have some news regarding the development. And unfortunately, the news isn’t particularly great.

Per the Calgary Municipal Land Corporation, the city entity tasked as the project manager for the new arena, the project is currently paused as they tackle some budget challenges.

Here’s a statement we received from CMLC on Wednesday afternoon:

“Calgary Municipal Land Corporation (CMLC), along with our partners at The City of Calgary, provided an update to Council at the April 13th closed meeting on the progress of the Event Centre. We started this project by developing principles and a program that would create a building that Calgarians would be proud to have in their city and over the past several months, the team has developed a design to reach that goal.”

“At this early stage in the project, there is a difference in the current budget estimate and the program requirements for the facility. Given the significance and importance of the project, the parties have jointly agreed to pause the project team to allow time to resolve these challenges. The decision to take this pause is the responsible and prudent approach to ensure we find the best solutions to move the project forward successfully, without incurring any additional costs on the project while these discussions progress. The team is working collaboratively to find a suitable path forward” – Kate Thompson, President and CEO, Calgary Municipal Land Corporation, CMLC.

The arena, or “event centre” in City Hall parlance, was approved by Calgary’s city council in late July 2019. The City was contributing $290 million to the project, with the Calgary Flames ownership contributing $275 million – the construction costs were budgeted at $550 million. HOK and Dialog were announced as the project development team back in June.

Unfortunately, we’ve been dealing with an ongoing global pandemic that has tied up domestic production materials and made it much more challenging to import materials from abroad in a cost-effective manner. As a result, stuff that probably would’ve cost $550 million as recently as six months ago likely don’t cost that same amount – and $550 million doesn’t buy what it would six months ago. (This hasn’t been specifically cited as the reason behind the pause, but it seems like a reasonable assumption to make given challenges experienced by projects of similar scope in recent months.)

And so, we play the waiting game.

The new arena was slated for an August 2021 groundbreaking and May/June 2024 opening, but with the pause it seems unlikely that these dates would hold.

We’ll have more on this story as it develops.

Canucks deadline pickups Bowey and Highmore both looking forward to increased opportunity with their new club

The Canucks managed to get two players out of the three deals they made on Monday’s Trade Deadline, both of which came from the Chicago Blackhawks in separate deals. Madison Bowey and Matthew Highmore were introduced to Vancouver media for the first time yesterday afternoon.

There’s no secret that the Canucks need help, a miracle (or a combination of the two) and quick, as they currently sit 10 points behind the Montreal Canadiens for the fourth and final playoff spot.

Highmore was asked with all the success he’s had at the AHL level, how far away he is from contributing at some level offensively in the NHL.

“I do believe I’m close, I don’t believe it’s necessarily from a lack of chances. I think I had a good amount of them [this year], It’s just that sometimes they don’t go in, but I think I’m close. Sometimes it’s a little bit of a confidence thing too, I’m just looking to do anything to help the team.”

Highmore played 24 games for the Blackhawks this season, tallying only two assists and posting a plus-minus rating of -5. He touched on proving himself and showing his worth at the NHL level.

“It’s super exciting [the opportunity]. I just want to be able to play, to help the team in any way, it doesn’t matter how. We’re hockey players, we love to play the game. Sometimes it’s hard to be on the outside watching.”

The recent COVID-19 situation has affected almost every member of the Canucks locker room and has been at the forefront of conversation for the last few weeks, but Highmore says he’s not overly concerned about the recent outbreak.

“Certainly not worried. You know, what has transpired here is terrible. I feel so bad for the guys, but it’s one of those things that throughout the season we’re just going to have to adapt. With all the health and safety protocols, I feel very safe coming into this environment.”

19 games in 31 days including six back to backs is what the Canucks are up against. That begins on Friday against the Edmonton Oilers.

“It’s been a crazy year. Every team has had to adapt to different scenarios. 19 games in 31 days is going to be a challenge, but every team has faced similar challenges. You have to go with the ebbs and flows and take care of your body.”

Vancouver is sitting in the middle of the pack on the penalty kill this season at 78.6%. The upcoming stretch of games will be difficult to get into after having over three weeks in between games. With tired players, penalties are more likely, so keeping the puck out of the net — especially on special teams — will be a massive focus. Highmore was asked if he’s comfortable and capable of spending some time shorthanded.

“I have, not always on a consistent basis, but certainly in the minors, and a good portion last year and in the bubble as well. [Penalty killing] has always been a part of my game and I would like to bring that if it’s required of me.”

Highmore is in Vancouver and has begun his 7 day quarantine. He’ll be set to join his teammates as early as Tuesday April 20th.

Madison Bowey spoke with the media from the Dallas airport as he waited for his connecting flight to Vancouver. Although the wifi connection had its struggles, the very well spoken Bowey said all the right things.

Early talks are that Bowey may be the seventh defenceman the rest of the season, but with so many games in so little time, he might get a few chances at some point. He was asked what the club expected out of him for the rest of this year.

“I talked a little yesterday to Jim Benning and Travis Green. My main goal is to come in and get a little bit of opportunity to play. My goal this year is to get games. I’m still young and I’m still developing. I just need to play a bit more and work on my game, but I think this is going to be a great fit for me.”

The 25 year old played 53 games for the Detroit Red Wings last season. He finished with 17 points (3-14-17). The Chicago Blackhawks signed him to a two-year $1.45 million deal in January. He only saw the ice twice for the club, registering one assist. Bowey was asked about his breakthrough year with Detroit and the challenges he faced this season with the Blackhawks.

“I know I can play in this league and I know what I’m capable of doing. For me it’s just focusing on the little areas, working hard and continuing to build my game. I’m a well rounded two way defenceman who can help on both ends of the ice, but it has been a battle mentally this year, but I think that has strengthened my game and my character. I’m ready to come in there and battle for a spot and compete.”

Bowey has ties to the province, having played his junior hockey for the Kelowna Rockets. He says he’s excited for the opportunity to return to B.C. and thinks Vancouver can be a long term fit.

“My goal is to make Vancouver my home for a long time. In Washington I had some good success there. It was a tough, older team to crack. I played some really good games with some true pros. I’ve been able to learn from them and make the most of those opportunities. I’m wanting to come in here and do my best. I can’t say it’s my last shot, but I’m treating it like that. My goal is to develop here and be a big piece of the puzzle for years to come.”

Bowey mentioned it’ll be nice seeing some familiar faces in the dressing room. Maybe that’s exactly what he needs to build his confidence.

“That’s the coolest thing about coming to Vancouver. I played with Jake Virtanen in the World Juniors. I played with Braden Holtby and Jay Beagle in Washington. Nate Schmidt I didn’t get to play with much [in Washington], but I got to know him. Travis Boyd’s there now, who I came up the ranks in the Washington organization. Seeing those faces will make me more comfortable when I come in and I think that’ll really help me get my game going.”

Sometimes, the real hard pressing questions need to be asked. Especially if you’re on Canucks Twitter, some people don’t even really care who the player is. The real question they want to know the answer to is if players have any pets, which Bowey was asked to close out his availability.

“My girlfriend and I actually got a dog at the beginning of the pandemic. For me, not playing much this year, it’s been great to come home to a great family and a little puppy has made things more enjoyable. He’s definitely coming and will be joining me in Vancouver in a few weeks.

We all know the legend of Braden Holtby running into some issues at the border while getting his tortoises across, so if someone wants to go ahead and make sure Madison has all the paperwork required to make sure he gets reunited with his dog in a timely fashion, I’m sure he’d appreciate it.

Bowey’s current deal expires at the end of next season, and he will become a UFA.

An autopsy of the Edmonton Oilers 2021 trade deadline

The belle of the 2021 trade deadline ball was traded over 12 hours before the deadline, when Taylor Hall got shipped to the Boston Bruins.

The Bruins got great value in the deal also picking up Curtis Lazar for Anders Bjork and a second round pick. It’s a price that the Oilers, even without a 2020 second round pick this year, should’ve stepped up to pay.

So why didn’t the Oilers get in on the action? The Oilers were in a sense limited without that pick but had other assets they could’ve parted with to try and make something work.

Heading into the deadline we knew a few things about where the Oilers were at: Oilers GM Ken Holland wanted to add an impact player, if anything, but didn’t want to part with this 2021 first round pick. The only way that pick would’ve been moved, he said, was if it were for a player with term. That in and of itself likely took the Oilers out of contention for Hall and his services, despite my belief Edmonton should’ve been willing to part with the pick.

Holland did some looking around and spoke with general managers from all the teams outside of the playoff picture looking for help, but wasn’t able to close the deal on anything for a forward, impact or not.

“We weren’t really close,” he said of his search for a forward. “I don’t know that there were impact forwards (available), but they were NHL forwards.

“Money was tight, assets were tight. I felt the priority was to get a little bit deeper on the backend.”

But the problem is that the Oilers weren’t willing to get creative to be able to add the needed forward help the team needs right now. When Connor McDavid, Leon Draisaitl and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins aren’t on the ice at 5×5, the Oilers goals for per hour is a measly 1.58 — nowhere near where it needs to be.

For comparison, when Toronto’s top three scorers (Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner, John Tavares) aren’t on the ice, the Leafs have a 2.29 goals for per hour.

Toronto and Tampa Bay, for example, both paid premiums for assets in Nick Foligno and David Savard, respectively, who may put their teams over the top in their hunt for the Cup. It’s clear Holland didn’t feel the Oilers were one piece, or a few pieces, at least, away from a Stanley Cup.

Holland has been fairly coy about Hall.

“I’m not sure if i can answer those questions,” he said to media members 30 minutes after the deadline passed. “I’m not really going to get into it, I’m not sure if I can talk about other teams’ players. No, the answer is no.”

The market, too, wasn’t really great for rental forwards. The best forward beyond Hall was Nick Foligno, who cost the Leafs more than a first round pick.

Sam Bennett got shipped to Florida for more than what Hall cost Boston, Carl Soderberg returned to Colorado, Michael Raffl was traded to Philadelphia, Mattias Janmark went to Vegas. None of these players really move the needle a whole lot, and the Oilers are probably better off not having moved any assets for these UFA’s.

But hours after the deadline passed, Holland was on Sportsnet’s Tim and Friends where he let slip the Oilers may have been more in on Taylor Hall than what he had lead onto.

“Cap space obviously factored into lots of decisions,” said Holland. “I was aware of everybody that was moved today, or for the most part everybody that was moved today. I made decisions I felt were in the best interest of the franchise.”

It was a more direct, while still roundabout answer than he gave hours before, and it’s clear Edmonton weren’t interested in dancing around the salary cap the way they would’ve needed to.

And while Edmonton could’ve tried as hard as they wanted to, it sounds like Hall wanted to join the Boston Bruins.

“But with a no-move clause as part of his Buffalo agreement, the (Hall) steered the conversation toward Boston when Sabres GM Kevyn Adams went looking for trade partners,” wrote The Athletic’s Fluto Shinzawa. “Not only did this put (Bruins GM) Sweeney atop the list of suitors, it also reduced Adams’ trade demands because he had no other serious bidders.”

There’s belief that there was a serious bidder from the western conference, and the DFO Rundown’s Frank Seravalli said on the podcast yesterday it may have been either Vegas or Colorado, both of whom who were looking to stock up for a playoff run.

Through it all, the Oilers kept their powder dry on making any big moves.

As I wrote yesterday, I like the move to bring in Dmitry Kulikov. The big knock on him, however, seems to be consistency. He’s a bit of a streaky player and when he makes mistakes, the tend to be big ones. Nonetheless, he’s going to add more depth to an already deep Oilers blueline.

At the very least he’s going to push a guy like Kris Russell down the lineup where he’s going

Edmonton is still a good team. They’re going to make some noise in the playoffs and have a solid chance at winning at least one playoff round.

At the very least, the hope is that Holland’s work yesterday sets the ground work for what could very well be the most important offseason in the Oilers franchise history. Edmonton has key UFA’s in Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Adam Larsson, and Tyson Barrie, also while having to get Kailer Yamamoto, an RFA, a new deal.

Don’t forget about fixing the goaltending situation long-term, as well as trying to fill out the rest of the roster. Holland will have at the very least $22.5-million to play with and that’s without moving on from James Neal and Mikko Koskinen’s contracts.

Zach Laing is the Nation Network’s news director and senior columnist. He can be followed on Twitter at @zjlaing, or reached by email at zach@oilersnation.com.

Page 6ix Wednesday, April 14th The post-trade deadline era

Apologies for the missed column last week – if you follow me on Twitter you are probably aware that I had a doggy emergency, and sadly hockey drama took a backseat to getting our furbaby healthy again. But here we are! Back in action, post-trade deadline, with all the fun fallout of the weekend plus some more news to touch base on. Let’s dive in.

Leafs-land

Well, Kyle did it. He made some big-ish moves! There were a few names added to the Leafs roster over deadline weekend, but the big ones are obviously Nick Foligno and David Rittich.

Rittich made his debut in blue last night against his former team, and yes, he did fly into Toronto with them. Talk about awkward breakups…

To make matters worse, the exes had a bit of a mid-game spat:

It does not get more soap opera than this, and I love it so much. Rittich was unable to pull off a W his first game minding the Leafs net, but wasn’t it fun to watch anyways?

Meanwhile, Foligno has decided to come to Toronto solo, leaving his family behind because, you know, pandemic and stuff.

Can’t really blame him! Interestingly, I saw a tweet earlier that said the Leafs now have something like 13 players who have worn an A or a C on their jersey at one point or another in their career. That’s a lot of leadership.

Also of note, the current man wearing the C hit a milestone:

And Auston Matthews leads the league in goals. By, like, a lot.

Finally, Morgan Rielly and Tessa Virtue continue to be the cutest. I will not be taking comments at this time.

Connor Calls Out the League

Over in Edmonton, Connor McDavid was not happy with the way the league rescheduled games for the Oilers.

To recap: the Oilers held a memorial for Colby Cave on Saturday morning – a day that was meant to be off for the team. When the league rescheduled games postponed due to COVID, they added one that evening. The Oilers were shutout, and McDavid was quite upset at the way it was handled – rightfully so.

Bad Blood

Another blockbuster trade happened this weekend:

That’s right! The talk of the town is Taylor Hall driving on down to Boston in a hurry to get the hell out of Buffalo.

But then! He also had to play his new ex the following night. El oh el.

While it wasn’t easy, and took them to the shootout to do it, Hall and his new teammates got the W against the Sabres. Insert “what, like it’s hard” meme here.

Bits and Pieces

Some quick hits around the league:

And, The King is out for the season:

We wish Hank all the best on his road to full recovery, and applaud him for putting his health first.

 

That’s all she wrote, folks. Catch ya next week!


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