Game 24: Toews Comes to Town

One of Winnipeg’s well known hockey players returns home tonight, that would be Jonathan Toews, in case you didn’t know. The Chicago team comes in to Winnipeg struggling, kind of like the Jets, Chicago were beat 8-3 by the Golden Knights on Tuesday. The Jets have only won 2 of their last 6 games, and can’t hold on to a third period lead. Having already blown 5 leads through the first 23 games. Probably a result of playing the top-9 excessively and slowly killing them, while playing the 4th line for about 5 minutes a night.

One thing I have noticed in the two recent blown third period leads is, the team crashed into a brick wall near the end of the second period/start of the third. Which allows their opponents to ounce, even during the 8-4 win against St. Louis, the team sagged a lot in the third. When you run your skaters hard during the first 40, they won’t have much left come the final 20, Maurice needs to roll out a better system. Nic Petan and Jack Roslovic didn’t hit the ice until more than halfway through the first period. Lemieux had 1 shift, subbing for Perreault after his powerplay shift. Of course the special teams played a big part in the early part of the game, but even after, the shifts were not spread out as they should be. If Maurice wants to run that way, he should take an opposite approach, run four lines for the first half, then shorten the bench for the second half of the game, if necessary. You need your alleged best players out for the late stages, the Jets are getting out coached on a regular basis, and it’s frustrating as they have one of the best forward groups in the league.

The Jets were also able to get away with being tired late in games because they had a solid top-4, that is now missing Tobi Enstrom, which is now looking like it’s making a much bigger difference than some people anticipated. Until the Jets address the issue with their defensive corps, they will struggle late in game, especially as this long season drags on into the cold winter months. Connor Hellebuyck has also not been his usual self so far this season, of course he has been elite at every level, including the NHL, meaning he will come around.

Now, on to the big news, Dustin Byfuglien will miss tonight’s game, as he is suffering from “symptoms” of a concussion, likely stemming from his collision with Oleksiak of the Penguins on Tuesday. Byfuglien was pulled from that game for testing, but was allegedly cleared to return, which he did. This is worrisome for the Jets, concussions are serious, and Byfuglien won’t/can’t return until he is 100% cleared, and we have no idea when/how long it will take. Player health always comes first. Joe Morrow will also miss tonight’s game, meaning Sami Niku will make his season debut, finally. He will slot in beside Cam Schilling, who is suiting up for his 7tb career game, first with the Jets. Maurice said he will not split up Morrissey and Trouba, meaning Myers and Chiarot, might be used to “shelter” the unproven duo. It could be an interesting night at BellMTS Place. And maybe even an interesting trip to New York on the weekend.

Hellebuyck will be the starter for the Jets tonight, while the Chicago team will likely counter with Corey Crawford.

Here’s the rest of the projected lineup for tonight’s Hockey Fights Cancer game:

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