After a fiery game on Tuesday night, the Jets and Stars are back at it tonight as they face off for the fourth time in less than a month. This game is the second of a home and home that saw these teams play each other in Winnipeg, only to have both fly to Dallas for a rematch two days later.
Here’s what you need to watch for as the Jets and Stars clash tonight.
1) Patrik Laine
Stop me if you’ve heard this before, Patrik Laine loves playing the Dallas Stars. With a goal in all three games against Dallas this year, it brings Laine’s totals to 18 goals in 16 career games against the Stars. Nobody has any idea why, but somehow Laine always touches the scoresheet when these teams collide. It even prompted this funny quote with the classic Laine humour.
"I wish we played 82 against those guys. I'd have a lot of goals."
Patrik Laine doesn't have an explanation for his success against the Stars but he enjoys it:https://t.co/QFsUhiI2cp
— Sportsnet (@Sportsnet) December 4, 2019
Nobody can explain this phenomenon, but everyone is hoping Laine can keep up this torrid pace tonight.
2) New (and old) faces
The Winnipeg Jets claimed Nick Shore off waivers yesterday in a move to help bolster the fourth line depth.
Winnipeg’s current fourth line has been enormously out-shot and out-chanced since coming together but a change is now on the horizon. The current speculation is that bringing in Shore will also allow Gustafsson an opportunity to go to the World Junior Championships and play for Sweden over the Christmas break.
There was also sightings of both Appleton and Bourque on the ice during practice yesterday with Appleton being a full participant for the first time since getting injured before the Heritage Classic. He’s been progressing well, but Maurice mentioned that he will remain out of the lineup tonight. Look for Appleton’s return over the weekend and into next week with Bourque following not too far behind.
On the defensive side of things, Kulikov is out for several weeks, but Beaulieu is healthy again after sitting out the past few games.
Nathan Beaulieu is an option for tomorrow in Dallas. Gabriel Bourque and Mason Appleton will not play.
— Murat Ates (@WPGMurat) December 4, 2019
It’s been a never ending carousel in Winnipeg with so many injuries happening since the start of the season.
3) Rough Stuff
We started to see a little bit of rough stuff in the third period on Tuesday as tempers were running hot late in the game. Ehlers and Benn whacked each other in the legs before a scrum ensued in the corner. It ended with Lowry punching Perry in the face, much to the delight of the Winnipeg faithful.
With this being the fourth meeting in under a month, these teams are starting to build some personal rivalries with the opposition. Don’t be surprised if this meeting turns into a rough game after the Winnipeg won last game by a strong four goal margin.
4) Depth defenders
It might not be the best looking defense on paper, but the Jets are going to need to band together and play an all-around team defensive game. This defense isn’t going to “wow” anyone with their abilities, they just need to play a simple, consistent game and limit the opposition’s dangerous chances.
With Dallas’ speed up the ice, the defense will have to be really strong at the defensive blueline to break up chances before they even occur. Winnipeg can’t afford to be passive because that’s when the defense get caught too far back and allow easy shots from the top of the slot.
On the flipside, the Jets entering the zone will be a major key in this game. We saw multiple goals on Tuesday come from excellent zone entries with speed. The Jets had multiple breakaways with their speed through the centre ice as both Ehlers and Scheifele had chances all alone. The Jets speed is a major asset and it will be something to watch for tonight.
Laine nets a hat-trick and continues his crazy play against the Stars. It’s a high spirited affair with plenty of penalties and goals, but the Jets come out on top 6-4.