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This article was published 5/1/2018 (1055 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
The Winnipeg Jets look to keep the good times rolling on home ice tonight in a match-up that looks favourable on paper, but comes with plenty of warning signs.
Buffalo rolls into town with a woeful 10-21-9 record, which puts them next-to-last in the National Hockey League standings. They'll also be playing for a second straight night after getting pumped 6-2 in Minnesota on Thursday.
Winnipeg, meanwhile, is well-rested and sitting pretty near the top of the Western Conference at 23-11-7, which includes the second-best home record in the league at 14-3-1. So this one should be decided fairly quickly at Bell MTS Place tonight, right?
Not so fast.
"They're going to come out and play with a lot of emotion tonight, a lot of energy. We need to be ready to play," said veteran centre Matt Hendricks following his team's optional morning skate.
"I think they're a team that's been hit with a little bit of bad luck. I think they're a better team than their record shows. I think they're coached well, their structure is strong. They've had a hard time finding wins, and we don't want that to come against us."
There are no changes to the Jets lineup that dropped a 3-2 overtime decision in Colorado Tuesday. Connor Hellebuyck gets the start in goal, while Jack Roslovic and Tucker Poolman will be the healthy scratches. Toby Enstrom remains sidelined with injury but is closing in on a return. Mark Scheifele and Brandon Tanev also remain on injured reserve.
No team scores less than the Sabres, and only three squads have given up more goals per game. Buffalo does boast one of the more exciting young players in the game in centre Jack Eichel, who is tied for the team lead in scoring with 15 goals and 20 assists. Former Jets forward Evander Kane, with 16 goals and 19 assists, is right there with him.
"One of the things we try to do is make it a tough rink for other teams to play in. We really build off momentum," defenceman Josh Morrissey said this morning of his team's success at home. "(Buffalo) has some skill up front, some skill on the blue line. They're a team that probably didn't like their game last night. They're going to come in here tonight and want to sort of redeem last night. That's always a dangerous hockey team."
Buffalo flew in overnight following the Minnesota game and did not skate this morning.
"Their game is better than their record," said Jets coach Paul Maurice. "They've got size and speed. They can beat you off the rush. They play a focused game defensively in terms of what they're trying to do."
This is the first of two meetings between the Jets and Sabres, with the rematch set for Tuesday in Buffalo.
Mike McIntyre grew up wanting to be a professional wrestler. But when that dream fizzled, he put all his brawn into becoming a professional writer.
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