The Montreal Canadiens are making their first and only trip to Winnipeg this evening as they take on the Jets at Bell MTS Place. The Jets are coming off a decisive 6-0 victory against the Wild on Saturday afternoon which included a special piece of history for the organization. With a goal and an assist in the game, Wheeler tied, and then passed Ilya Kovalchuk for the most points in franchise history.
With such a big milestone being reached by Wheeler, that’s the first thing to watch out for during tonight’s game.
1) Wheeler tribute
It was a really special moment for Wheeler passing Kovalchuk and it really symbolizes the leadership that Wheeler’s had since coming to Winnipeg. After being named captain a few years ago, Wheeler has been an excellent player on the ice, and has been a tremendous example of leaderhip off the ice.
With the first Winnipeg player passing Kovalchuk, it feels as though the final remnants of Atlanta are beginning to fade away. With so few players left from the Atlanta days, Kovalchuk’s record was one of the last pieces that Thrashers’ fans could hold onto.
Now with 6⃣1⃣6⃣ points in our organization, Blake Wheeler is the franchise points leader for your #NHLJets!
— Winnipeg Jets (@NHLJets) December 22, 2019
Be ready for a great tribute to Wheeler tonight which will certainly be met with a hearty standing ovation for the captain as the final torch from Atlanta is passed on to Winnipeg.
2) Laine’s finding his scoring
It was a quirky start to the year for Patrik Laine. His goal totals were done, but his assists were off the charts. He’s already surpassed his assist totals from last year, and he’s only played 34 games thus far. The overall game of Laine has looked much better, and it’s even prompted others around the league to take notice.
— Sportsnet (@Sportsnet) December 17, 2019
Although the comment was somewhat tongue in cheek, there’s lots of truth to that statement. Laine’s defense has been improved this year and he has a tenacity for the puck that hasn’t been there before.
Even though he wasn’t scoring, it’s been his best season to date. However, Laine’s also seeming to turn the corner in regards to goals as he’s scored four goals in his last four games including his second two goal game of the season against the Wild on Saturday.
Laine’s definitely been on a hot-streak and if he’s truly found his scoring touch again, he will definitely be someone to watch for tonight.
3) Harkins first point
Jansen Harkins made his NHL debut on Saturday and also picked up his first career point as he gathered an assist on a Logan Shaw goal. It was a strong debut for Harkins who came in and did what was needed in his first NHL game. It was the type of game where everyone looked pretty good due to the lopsided score, but with Harkins’ great numbers in the AHL this season, he’s definitely earned a shot to play a few more games with the big club.
The other interesting part of Harkins’ assist is that he’s now the third Jets player to record their first career point this season, following in the footsteps of Ville Heinola and David Gustafsson.
4) Hellebuyck history
After seeing Blake Wheeler make franchise history on Saturday, Connor Hellebuyck didn’t want to be left behind. With his 17th career shutout, he’s now tied with Ondrej Pavelec for the most in franchise history. The big difference between the two netminders is that Pavelec played in 379 games while Hellebuyck has only played in 242.
While shutouts are relatively rare for goalies these days, there’s a strong chance that Hellebuyck will eclipse this record during the year. However, due to the weird nature of scoring in the NHL, this record could be broken at any time. Maybe tonight’s the night?
Hellebuyck won’t break the record tonight, but the Jets will get back to their winning ways on home ice with a 5-2 victory. Look for Scheifele to begin his new scoring streak after losing his a few games ago. Also watch for Patrik Laine to score a goal as the top line keeps rolling.