November 17, 2018

Winnipeg
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Record: 11 – 5 – 2

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Winnipeg Jets (11 – 5 – 2)

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Winnipeg needs speed to defeat Colorado

Winnipeg has to get back in shape after Finland trip to defeat Colorado

The Central Division was the NHL’s toughest in 2017-18 and the early indicators suggest the same will be true this season.

On Friday, the Jets host the up-and-coming Colorado Avalanche.

The Avs (7-4-3) and Winnipeg (8-5-1) were tied for third place in the division heading into Friday’s action and Colorado’s sensational top line of Mikko Rantanen, Nathan MacKinnon and Gabriel Landeskog has been doing much of the damage, occupying the first, third and 12th spot, respectively, in league scoring.

“No surprises, really,” Winnipeg defenceman Tyler Myers said Wednesday. “We know Colorado’s a fast team. Their top line is one of the best lines in hockey right now. We’re going to have to watch out for that, but they’re playing good hockey. We’re going to have to make sure we’re back up to speed coming back from the trip (Finland).”

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The Central Division was the NHL’s toughest in 2017-18 and the early indicators suggest the same will be true this season.

On Friday, the Jets host the up-and-coming Colorado Avalanche.

David Zalubowski / The Associated Press Files</p><p>Colorado Avalanche right wing Mikko Rantanen along with Gabriel Landeskog and Nathan MacKinnon form the top line in hockey. The speedy group has a combined 55 points this season as Rantanen leads the league in points. The trio has helped lift Colorado to one of the best marks in the Western Conference this season.</p>

David Zalubowski / The Associated Press Files

Colorado Avalanche right wing Mikko Rantanen along with Gabriel Landeskog and Nathan MacKinnon form the top line in hockey. The speedy group has a combined 55 points this season as Rantanen leads the league in points. The trio has helped lift Colorado to one of the best marks in the Western Conference this season.

The Avs (7-4-3) and Winnipeg (8-5-1) were tied for third place in the division heading into Friday’s action and Colorado’s sensational top line of Mikko Rantanen, Nathan MacKinnon and Gabriel Landeskog has been doing much of the damage, occupying the first, third and 12th spot, respectively, in league scoring.

"No surprises, really," Winnipeg defenceman Tyler Myers said Wednesday. "We know Colorado’s a fast team. Their top line is one of the best lines in hockey right now. We’re going to have to watch out for that, but they’re playing good hockey. We’re going to have to make sure we’re back up to speed coming back from the trip (Finland)."

 

RED-HOT POWER PLAY

Winnipeg’s power play is operating at a 33.3 per cent clip, which is second in the league behind the Washington Capitals’ No. 1-rated unit (36.6 per cent). Fourteen of Winnipeg’s 41 goals have been scored with the man advantage.

Head coach Paul Maurice would like to be more productive in 5-on-5 situations.

"We need our ratio 5-on-5 to improve, whether you win a game 2-1, 5-1, how you generate your offence, we’d like to see those numbers improve," he said. "But I’m not overly worried about our scoring. How we play the game offensively is a big chunk of our focus. But I’m not worried about an individual not having the numbers he wants."

Is Maurice encouraged his team continues to win while not consistently playing its A-game?

"We’re playing our A-game for October," Maurice said. "We’re not where we want to be, but we don’t want to hit our peak in Game 3. So it’s development of a team, but also development of individual players. When you’re as young as we are, we expect all these young players to be better by the end of the year.

"That’s one of the advantages of having a young team. There’s lots of room for growth. One of the challenges is the consistency in your game takes time to cement."

 

TAKING A BREAK

The Jets, who last played Nov. 2 in Helsinki, will go seven days between games. That’s more than enough time to adjust to the intercontinental travel for centre Bryan Little.

"Yeah, I think they’re trying to be smart with giving us some rest and time to get adjusted, but it feels like it’s almost too much; we’re ready to play games," Little said. "Everyone’s kinda back into and ready to go."

 

NOTEWORTHY

Sophomore centre Jack Roslovic was a healthy scratch for Winnipeg’s last game, but he is expected to return to the lineup on the club’s fourth line against the Avs.

Roslovic wasn’t dwelling on the temporary demotion. He has two assists in 13 games thus far.

"It’s not anything about me or what’s going on," Roslovic said.

"It’s about the team. And it’s tough to watch the team, especially when you lose one like that. But you lose games in the season and you’ve just got to keep on getting better."

mike.sawatzky@freepress.mb.ca

Twitter: @sawa14

Mike Sawatzky

Mike Sawatzky
Sports Reporter

Mike has been working on the Free Press sports desk since 2003.

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