Fatigue can’t be an excuse anymore. The Winnipeg Jets have had three days off. Starting tonight against Florida, they really need to put some wins together.
The Jets (13-16-3) started the season in grueling fashion, with 32 games in 60 days. By the mid-point of November, it began to show. They went 4-9-1 from Nov. 17 to Dec. 11, making them the NHL’s worst team over that stretch.
“Sometimes you’d dig into the bank and there’s nothing left in there,” said forward Blake Wheeler, per the Winnipeg Free Press. “That’s kind of a bad feeling. You normally have that reserve to tap into and to have that gone on a given night, that makes it tough… There’s obviously an element of mental fatigue that goes with the travel and everything but the physical burden can sometimes be more challenging.”
Looking ahead, Winnipeg plays four times before the Christmas break, and all four games are winnable. Tonight it’s the Panthers at MTS Centre, Sunday the Avalanche pay a visit, then it’s off to Vancouver for a pair of games against the Canucks.
The Jets are only one point back of the second wild-card spot in the Western Conference; however, that’s a little misleading, since they’ve played four more games than the Predators.
Tonight’s opposition should also be a motivated group, as the Panthers too are fighting to stay in playoff contention. Whoever wins will get a much-needed two points. Whoever loses will fall further back and face more, tougher questions.
This wouldn’t have been worth a chuckle if not for the correction. (Well, maybe a chuckle at Auston Matthews‘ expense.)
On the 33rd goal of his brilliant rookie season, Auston Matthews made it 2-0 for Toronto on the power play. Crusty “act like you’ve been there” types might grumble that he actually celebrated before a goal really happened, only to tap it in for real the second time around. The rest of us, again, get a mild chuckle.
William Nylander‘s pass was nothing to laugh at, however. That one just gets a big thumbs up.
Both the Columbus Blue Jackets and Toronto Maple Leafs have motivation to win their Wednesday game, but the Maple Leafs need it more.
So far, it shows, too.
The Maple Leafs have raced off to a 2-0 lead, with Auston Matthews scoring his 33rd goal of the season. If generating such offense didn’t highlight the urgency, Connor Carrick‘s huge hit on Josh Anderson makes a compelling argument. Witness that big impact in the video above.
There was also another high-impact moment when Nick Foligno went crashing into the boards:
Ouch, Blues consider Paul Stastny out week-to-week
Stastny generated 18 goals and 40 points in 66 games so far this season. He has played more of a defensive role this season (46.2 offensive zone start percentage after being closer to 50 earlier in his Blues days) and has been impressive in the dot, winning 53.8 of his faceoffs.
WATCH LIVE: Islanders at Rangers – Wednesday Night Rivalry
A night after a feisty matcuhup with the Devils, the Rangers host an even bigger rival in the Islanders at Madison Square Garden for Wednesday Night Rivalry on NBCSN.
As nasty as Tuesday’s contest got at times, this one means more.
While the Rangers seem pretty safely seated as the East’s first wild card, the Islanders stand three points behind the Maple Leafs for the final spot in the conference. They’ve seen other bubble teams stumble, so this is their chance to close in on Toronto in what might be a shrinking field of contenders.
Spiting the Islanders might just give the Rangers a little extra life on back-to-back nights … especially since their fans would probably let them have it if they sleepwalk through this one.
It should be a fun, physical and dramatic one on NBCSN. You can also watch online and via the NBC Sports App.