It’s tiring but the Pittsburgh Penguins are back at it. The second day in a row, third time in four days. But that’s also the path the Winnipeg Jets have gone down, so there’s no excuses or advantages to be found.
Since the Jets downed the Pens 4-1 just this past Tuesday, both teams have been playing well. Pittsburgh beat Anaheim on Thursday then won last night in Minnesota. Winnpeg won Thursday against Minnesota and then defeated Chicago last night in overtime.
And while it was Mark Scheifele and Patrik Laine (each having three assists) who did most the damage against the Pens on Tuesday, it’s a different line for the Jets that’s been the most dangerous lately:
Winnipeg's 2nd line of Copp, Connor and Ehlers led the team in terms of 5-on-5 shot attempts. Roslovic's line was also above 50%, while Scheifele's was just below and Lowry's continued to struggle.— Murat Ates (@WPGMurat) October 13, 2019
Whether it's Copp or even Bryan Little as a winger, Lowry's line needs a boost.
Winnpeg’s defense was almost comically injured/missing for what they trotted out on Tuesday against the Pens, even though those young players played well — and even chipped in three of the goals. It’s only been a few days but the situation has improved: their best defender, Josh Morrissey, was back in the lineup last night after dealing with concussion-like symptoms earlier in the week. Dmitry Kulikov is also back from dealing with a personal situation which caused him to be away from the team briefly.
Both Pittsburgh and Winnipeg used their respective starting goalies last night, Matt Murray and Connor Hellebuyck. Hellebuyck in particular played a very strong game, only allowing one goal despite Pens racking up a ton of scoring chances throughout the night.
So it could be a battle of the backups tonight, for the Pens Tristan Jarry would be making his NHL season debut and is probably more of a wildcard/unknown for his performance. The Jets feel pretty positive about Laurent Brissoint, who they even started two games in a row early in the season to sort of send a message to Hellebuyck to get it in gear (which, to his credit he has).
Pittsburgh’s depth will again be tested. Their latest crop of “AHL guys” did a great job on Satruday night. Sam Lafferty and Adam Johnson both recorded their first NHL goals, and each had three points. Fellow call-up Joseph Blandisi also scored a goal. Obviously those guys at the bottom of the lineup aren’t going to be producing huge numbers game in and game out, but the more you can get from them, the better.