The Vancouver Canucks are in town to take on the Winnipeg Jets tonight in a game that features two teams that have been quite the surprise in their own way so far this season. For the Jets the multiple injuries, how many of them the team have had to go through, and just how they’ve happened has been shocking to say the least. The Canucks meanwhile have been turning some heads with the surprisingly strong play and 9-4-3 record which has them a single point away from top spot in the Pacific division.
And of course the Jets welcome back an old friend to BMTSP tonight as Tyler Myers makes his return to Winnipeg for the first time as a member of the Vancouver Canucks after signing a rather large contract this past summer. Myers has actually been pretty good for the Canucks early on this season, but as Jets fans would expect, his play sometimes drives local fans to drink, especially a now rather infamous play that happened earlier in the week where “offensive dynamo” Tyler Myers made a brief appearance, wiping out another teammate and managed to help gift wrap a St. Louis Blues 3 on 0 scoring chance in overtime.
— FOX Sports Midwest (@FSMidwest) November 6, 2019
Tyler Myers doing Tyler Myers things.
Here are some things to look out for as you watch the game tonight…
Injuries Necessitate Change
The Jets constant struggles with injuries continued earlier this week as both Bryan Little and Gabriel Bourque ended up hurt and on the IR after the Jets contest against the New Jersey Devils on Tuesday.In response, the Jets called up left wing Joona Luoto from the Manitoba Moose but more interestingly, they had Blake Wheeler skating on the second line as a center between Nikolaj Ehlers and Jack Roslovic. With Roslovic moving up, Mathieu Perreault gets bumped up to the third line with Andrew Copp and Adam Lowry.
At least, that’s what the lines looked like at practice on Thursday. The funny thing is, these lines might work to help wake up a dormant offence that has struggled to not only score, but to even get anything in the slot area in front of opposing nets.
Injury… Making better lineup decisions than Paul Maurice since 1995
— Last week of Cabin season! (@Tony_MBHKY) October 15, 2019
Paul Maurice after practice confirmed that Blake would be moving to center and off of the top line, saying that he texted his captain to make sure it was ok I guess? Either way, hopefully Maurice runs with these lines for a full game even if they struggle out of the gate. It will be interesting to see if the Jets will see any instant benefit to the offense, but if they don’t it will also be interesting to see how quickly Maurice pulls the plug and just goes back to his old standby lines of 26 with 55 and 81 and then try to piece everything else together.
Will The Real Canucks Please Stand Up?
Vancouver had a bit of a rough night in Chicago less than 24 hours ago in a 5-2 loss to the Chicago Blackhawks. Yes, they did have a 38-37 final shot advantage over the Hawks, but their offensive play was passive and almost Winnipeg Jets-like in how far from the Hawks net they were shooting from. When the Canucks are on their game and playing like they can, they have been dynamite on offense, scoring 5+ goals in half of their last 10 games, but they have also been wildly inconsistent in that department as their last three losses have seen them score no more than two goals in a game. Their power play ranks in the NHL’s top ten at 22.06% but they’re 2 for 17 with the man advantage over the last four games. Overall they are 2-2-1 in their last five games and right now really just looking for some consistency which isn’t surprising given how young the team is.
Special Teams Work
Hey, speaking of special teams, the Jets no longer boast the worst penalty kill in the league! thanks to a 3 for 3 PK night against the Devils and thanks to the Detroit Red Wings commitment to remaining awful in that department, the Jets now have the 30th best penalty kill in the NHL at 70.59%.
That penalty kill though will get a bit of a test with the Canucks able to put up some good numbers if they are on their game. Also the Jets PK will be without Bryan Little who seemed to help stabilize the PK over the last few games he’s played. With Bourque missing as well, don’t be surprised if Luoto sees a bit of time on the PK – a role he was pretty decent with while on the Moose.
No Really, Get To The Net
Blake Wheeler mentioned how tough it has been for the Jets to create any offense. A good first step in fixing that problem would be to start getting closer to the net with their shots. Simply put, the Jets have lacked any kind of presence or threat to opposing goalies so far this season.
I made a mistake. It's not quite that bad. Let's all marvel at my inability to perform simple tasks instead. pic.twitter.com/i9B28lh5Qb
— Micah Blake McCurdy (@IneffectiveMath) November 7, 2019
It’s been mentioned here a few times and it bears repeating. It’s not just that teams are effective in keeping the Jets away from the slot area, it’s that the Jets almost seem willing to just take shots from distance and then hope for a lucky bounce or two without getting anyone to the front of the net to create some havoc for opposing teams’ defenses.
Here’s hoping the new lines tonight help that aspect of their game.