The Winnipeg Jets welcome one of the best teams in the league to the MTS Centre Sunday night when the San Jose Sharks visit for a Western Conference match up. The Sharks have been a consistent power house in the West, despite rarely getting any coverage and being underrated every year, the Sharks continue to surprise and perform among the league leaders. With only 2 regulation losses all season the Sharks are among the class of the league and will be a huge challenge for this Jets team.
The Sharks are coming off only their second regulation loss this season Thursday at home against Vancouver. Despite that slight hiccup this team has been nearly untouchable this season. The Sharks have an unbelievable mix of young stars and veterans that are all dangerous and smart players. The most pleasant surprise for the Sharks has been rookie sensation Tomas Hertl. Hertl, a early Calder favourite, has 9 goals already this season, which would put him second on the Jets behind only Bryan Little. Add to that 5 assists and a solid defensive game, and Tomas Hertl may be the real deal. The back end is anchored by goaltender Antti Niemi, with two shutouts already this season he remains one of the best in the league, though often forgotten when the subject of top goaltenders comes up. This Sharks club is strong from top to bottom and will be a contender when all is said and done this season.
Though no one could say the Jets played a full 60 minutes Friday against Nashville they did enough in the time they did play to earn a 5-0 win. The Jets got enough good bounces and made them count enough to come up on the right side of a blowout but this game could have easily been tighter had Nashville been able to capitalize on the chances they had. A huge bright spot for the Jets was Ondrej Pavelec who earned his first shutout of the season. Pavelec stood on his head, made 41 saves, and jumped his save percentage 9 points, he needs to be their best player and Friday night he definitely was. Up front it has been Bryan Little who has been leading the charge, with 10 goals he has already surpassed his production from last year and he is well on pace to destroy a career best. Friday night Noel reunited Little with his linemates from last season, Blake Wheeler and Andrew Ladd. When producing this line is a bonafide NHL number 1 line, and with the production from the second and third lines this team can be dangerous.
Blood in the water: The Sharks are one of the best teams in the league but they are in a bit of a slump, going only 4-2-4 in their last 10. If there was a time for the Jets to take advantage, it is now.
Team defence: Every line on the Sharks offence has multiple scoring threats. If every Jet is not dialed in on the defensive side of the puck they have no chance.
Traffic: Niemi is one of the best, the Jets need to get to the net and create havoc, and second and third chances for Winnipeg to generate some scoring.
Ondrej Pavelec (5-7-2) GAA: 2.86 SV% .911
Antti Niemi (9-2-4) GAA: 2.10 SV% .913
Trouba WPG, (neck) out
Slater WPG, (lower body) out
Postma WPG, (blood clot) out
Stuart WPG, (hip) out
Burns SJ, (mouth) out
Burish SJ, (back) out
Torres SJ, (torn ACL) out
Jets compete but Sharks to strong
Sharks 4 Jets 2
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