Two teams on early season slides meet Sunday night in Winnipeg trying to get on track. Winnipeg, who are losers of 3 in a row after opening the season 2-0, have looked lost recently and have been throttled in all areas of the game. On the other side the New Jersey Devils are still winless early this season despite having some close games. Over the past two years the teams have met 5 times with the Jets claiming two victories, the Devils 3, including one in overtime. Although the teams will not meet as much after the realignment, this game remains important. Both teams hope their opponent is the perfect target for a win and a change of direction.
The Devils arrive in the midst of an early season tail spin. Despite the presence of two very capable goaltenders and a decent young core, New Jersey has not been able to get off the ground this season. The biggest story in New Jersey this summer was the arrival of former Manitoba Moose goaltender Cory Schneider. Schneider came from a team, the Vancouver Canucks, where he was stuck behind a veteran goaltender with a large contract. He comes to a team with, a veteran goalie with a pretty large contract. The silver lining for Schneider is that this season appears to be Martin Brodeurs swan song, so he may have to split duties for just one more season, until then however, each night the starting goalie in New Jersey is a question mark. Up front the Devils are led by veterans Ryan Clowe, Patrick Elias, and Stephen Gionta, as well as Jet killer Adam Henrique. Although the Devils are known for being a low scoring defensive team, they have the fire power to make you pay if you make mistakes. Only two years out from an impressive run to the Stanley Cup finals, the Devils are not a team to take lightly.
Although suffering their most lopsided scoreboard loss of the season Friday night it may have been the most encouraging. After getting run out of the building in most facets of the game against Anaheim and Minnesota, the Jets came out and put forward a solid effort against Dallas, despite being outscored 4-1. Winnipeg managed 44 shots on goal, their season high and nearly 3x what they put up in Minnesota. They also won 62.5% of the faceoffs which was far and above what they had done on any night, so, despite a dissapointing result, there are positives to build on for the first time in this losing streak. If Winnipeg can keep up with these two stats and tighten the play in their defensive zone, they will win more games then they lose.
Power play: 5 games, 5 power play goals for Winnipeg so far this season. Although I am far from sold that this power play, a major issue last season, is fixed, they are at this point at least getting results and that is what counts. On a team struggling for offence it is important these results continue.
Play smart: How many times this season have the Jets lined up for a faceoff in the opponents zone, ready to get their power play started only to take a penalty themselves just seconds after and lose the man advantage? The answer is far to many, Winnipeg needs to be smarter and stop shooting themselves in the foot.
D-Zone: A team struggling for offence seems to be the perfect remedy to a season full of turnovers and way to many chances given up. On most nights the Devils will not force you to make any fantastic defensive plays, however they will make you pay for your mistakes. If the Jets can just play smart and limit the bad passes and giveaways they will give themselves a chance to win.
Al Montoya (0-0-0) GAA: 0 SV% 0
Cory Schneider (0-1-1) GAA: 2.95 SV% .887
Carter NJ, (upper body) day-to-day
Tedenby NJ, (lower body) out
New Jersey: 0-2-3
Jets bounce back, won’t be Devils first win of the season
Jets 3 Devils 0