3/28/17 Game Preview: Winnipeg Jets vs. New Jersey Devils

The New Jersey Devils (27-35-13) and Winnipeg Jets (34-35-7) will finally face off in their second and final meeting this season, initially postponed due to snowstorm Stella exactly two weeks ago. They first met all the way back in November, a 3-2 Devils loss at the MTS Centre. The Jets outshot the Devils 29-25 and got goals from Mark Scheifele, Blake Wheeler, and Patrik Laine, while Miles Wood and Nick Lappin scored for the Devils. Cory Schneider made 26 saves on 29 shots faced (.897 percentage); Connor Hellebuyck stopped 23 of 25 shots against (.920 save %). They went a combined 0/9 on the man advantage.

Both Schneider (20-24-10, 2.71 GAA, .911 save %) and Hellebuyck (23-19-4, 2.95 GAA, .906 save %) will likely be in net for their respective teams tonight. Keith Kinkaid did start for New Jersey on Sunday but he and Schneider will split starts down the stretch.

New Jersey had an off day yesterday and did not practice so any lineup notes will be announced when Coach Hynes speaks to the media. Michael Cammalleri and Jacob Josefson both participated in full morning skate this morning but will likely remain out of the lineup again; Devante Smith-Pelly is nowhere near returning. Both Patrik Laine and Dustin Byfuglien will return to Winnipeg’s lineup.

The Devils announced this morning that they did sign UMass-Lowell senior defenseman Michael Kaplan to a two-year, entry-level contract. He had three goals and 30 points in 40 games played this season, a career high; he has 17 goals and 92 points in his four-year career. He will join the Devils and will probably get some playing time down the stretch.

Kyle Palmieri is two goals and two assists away from 100 in his career. Both he and Taylor Hall are the only Devils with 50 or more points this season. The Jets do have plenty of good scorers, especially in 18 year-old Calder Trophy-contender Patrik Laine. He did miss Sunday’s game against Vancouver but should be good to go tonight. Scheifele, Wheeler, Nikolaj Ehlers, and even defenseman Dustin Byfuglien are not to be overlooked either. The Jets have five skaters with more than 20 goals this season, and seven with more than 10.

The Devils did not have a single power play opportunity against Dallas but have an 18.6% success rate, good for 18th in the league; Winnipeg sits just below at 18.5%. New Jersey’s penalty kill sits 21st at 79.8% while the Jets are next-to-last in penalty kill percentage at 76.5%.

The Devils have dropped 15 of their last 17 games, including their seven of their last nine at home. They dropped both games in a back-to-back set this weekend: 3-1 against Carolina on Saturday, 3-2 in overtime against Dallas on Sunday. Texas native Blake Coleman scored his first NHL goal against his hometown team on Sunday while Travis Zajac scored the lone Devils goal on Saturday, his 14th of the season.

The Jets have won three of their last five, and eight of their last 13. They have also lost three of their last four on the road. They did win 2-1 on Sunday against the Canucks; Mathieu Perreault (game-tying goal) and Adam Lowry (game-winner) both scored. Michael Hutchinson stopped 28 of 29 shots against (.966 save %) to earn the win.

New Jersey was officially eliminated from playoff contention on Saturday and Winnipeg is a whopping 13 points behind Calgary for the final wildcard spot in the West so tonight’s game doesn’t mean a whole lot in terms of playoff picture. Both teams, however, will be hungry for a win and will be playing for pride. The weather will also be slightly nicer than what it would have been for the original Devils/Jets game but who’s complaining? Puck drops at 7PM.

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