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WATCH LIVE: Jets visit Ducks on Wednesday Night Hockey

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NBCSN’s coverage of the 2018-19 NHL season continues with the Wednesday Night Hockey matchup between the Winnipeg Jets and Anaheim Ducks. Coverage begins at 10 p.m. ET on NBCSN. You can watch the game online and on the NBC Sports app by clicking here.

With 10 games left to play in their season, Winnipeg leads Nashville in the Central and is in line for just the second division title in franchise history. The only time the franchise won their division was when they were the Atlanta Thrashers and won the Southeast Division in 2006-07.

Despite leading the division, Winnipeg has been a mediocre 12-11-2 over the last 25 games, with a minus-3 goal differential during that span.

More recently, however, the Jets have won three straight games, all by one goal, and look more like the team that reached the Western Conference Final last season. After defeating playoff contenders Boston and Calgary, Winnipeg snuck by Los Angeles on Monday 3-2. Kevin Hayes and Kyle Connor both scored, but the Jets blew their two-goal lead before Tyler Myers scored the eventual game-winner late in the second period.

Anaheim is in 14th place in the West and is all but assured to miss the playoffs, which will snap a streak of six straight seasons. That was tied for the second longest active streak in the league with Minnesota, who is still very much alive in the playoff hunt.

Despite their place in the standings, the Ducks have won back-to-back games and six of their last nine games overall. Five of those six wins have come against teams in the playoff hunt.

The Ducks are 9-9-0 since firing Randy Carlyle and replacing him with GM Bob Murray.

[WATCH LIVE – COVERAGE BEGINS AT 10 P.M. ET – NBCSN]

WHAT: Winnipeg Jets at Anaheim Ducks
WHERE: Honda Center
WHEN: Wednesday, March 20, 10 p.m. ET
TV: NBCSN
LIVE STREAMING: You can watch the Jets-Ducks stream on NBC Sports’ live stream page and the NBC Sports app.

PROJECTED LINEUPS

JETS
Patrik LaineMark ScheifeleBlake Wheeler
Kyle Connor – Kevin Hayes – Nikolaj Ehlers
Brandon TanevAdam LowryBryan Little
Mathieu PerreaultAndrew CoppJack Roslovic

Joe MorrowJacob Trouba
Dmitry Kulikov – Tyler Myers
Ben ChiarotSami Niku

Starting goalie: Connor Hellebuyck

DUCKS
Nick RitchieRyan GetzlafDaniel Sprong
Corey PerryAdam HenriqueTroy Terry
Rickard RakellDevin ShoreJakob Silfverberg
Max JonesDerek GrantCarter Rowney

Hampus LindholmJosh Manson
Jacob Larsson – Cam Fowler
Jaycob Megna – Korbinian Holzer

Starting goalie: John Gibson

Alex Faust (play-by-play) and Brian Boucher (‘Inside-the-Glass’ analyst) will have the call from Honda Center in Anaheim, Calif.

Wednesday Night Hockey: Jets taking off at right time

NBCSN’s coverage of the 2018-19 NHL season continues with the Wednesday Night Hockey matchup between the Winnipeg Jets and Anaheim Ducks. Coverage begins at 10 p.m. ET on NBCSN. You can watch the game online and on the NBC Sports app by clicking here.

The expectations were for the Jets coming into this season. Even though they’re not at the top of the Western Conference standings like most people expected, it doesn’t mean that this campaign will be a failure. What happens during the regular season doesn’t really matter to Winnipeg. They’ll be judged on their performance in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

In 2018, a trip to the Western Conference Final was more or less a success. This year, that won’t be the case. Anything short of the Stanley Cup will be a disappointing end to a promising season.

The Jets are deep at every position, which means they can survive injuries come playoff time. Dustin Byfuglien, who is sidelined by an ankle injury right now, has played in just 37 games this season, but they’ve found a way to make it work without him. Of course, getting him back before the start of the postseason would be huge for their chances of going all the way.

“Our back end is deep,” head coach Paul Maurice said, per the Winnipeg Sun. “We have two really, really important defensemen out of our lineup — one of them for half the season in Dustin Byfuglien — and when everyone is healthy I’m gonna have 10 NHL defensemen that can play and three more in the minors that have played for us at some point this year.”

Nathan Beaulieu, who the club acquired from Buffalo at the trade deadline, has played an important role while Joe Morrow and Byfuglien have been sidelined.

They’re just as deep at every forward position. Down the middle, they have: Mark Scheifele, Kevin Hayes and Adam Lowry. At left wing, they can rely on Patrik Laine, Kyle Connor, Brandon Tanev, and Matthieu Perreault. On the right side, It’s Blake Wheeler, Nikolaj Ehlers, Bryan Little (he can also play center) and Jack Roslovic. There’s not many teams that can say they have that much depth (the Tampa Bay Lightning might be the only ones).

The Jets are just getting over a stretch in which they lost three of four games, but they’ve bounced back by winning three in a row over Boston, Calgary and Los Angeles. After tonight’s game against the Ducks, they’ll play four consecutive games against teams currently in a playoff spot (the Golden Knights, Predators, Stars and Islanders) and they’ll also take on a Canadiens team that is just one point out of a position in the postseason.

Winnipeg will finish the season with a four-game road trip that will take them to Chicago, Minnesota, Colorado and Arizona.

All that means is that the Jets will have to continue playing this well down the stretch so that they can ride into the playoffs with some positive momentum. This final stretch of games won’t be easy, so going out and finding teams to challenge them shouldn’t be too difficult.

“There’s no panic in our game,” Hayes said. “We keep playing four lines and everyone contributes. It just shows the quality of our team.

“When you think about the Jets, it’s a high-scoring team but these last couple of games we’re playing good defense and squeezing out wins. That’s what it takes at this time of year when you need important points.”

Alex Faust (play-by-play) and Brian Boucher (‘Inside-the-Glass’ analyst) will have the call from Honda Center in Anaheim, Calif.

Joey Alfieri is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @joeyalfieri.

Preds, Jets both limp into Central showdown

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The Nashville Predators sit atop the Central Division, but they’re not happy these days. The simple explanation? They’re not playing well.

The Predators have lost two of their last three games — shut out in both defeats — and their lone victory was a shootout win over the free-falling Edmonton Oilers.

The Winnipeg Jets are second in the Central, only one point back of the Predators and with three games in hand. But they aren’t flying high lately, either.

Winnipeg has lost two straight games, the latest in stunning fashion, and collected just one victory in a six-game swoon (1-4-1).

There is some good news coming very soon for one of these clubs, as someone has to win when the Jets play host to the Predators on Friday night in a battle for first place in the division (although the hard-charging St. Louis Blues have closed ground incredibly quickly and will overtake them both if something doesn’t change).

Expect a couple of desperate teams when the puck drops.

“We just got to find a way to win more games,” Winnipeg forward Patrik Laine told the Winnipeg Sun recently. “We’re capable of winning a lot of games, like we showed earlier in the season. But with this kind of defense and the way we played in the last couple minutes (against Minnesota in their last game), we’re not going to win these games. Just try to find some more ways and hopefully learn from these mistakes we made and not make those mistakes again.”

The Jets believed they had a victory in hand in their last outing, holding a 2-1 lead on the Minnesota Wild with less than two minutes remaining Tuesday night. Instead, the Wild scored a pair of goals 26 seconds apart to claim a 3-2 victory in regulation.

“That can’t happen,” said Laine, who has netted four goals in the last three games to break out of a prolonged scoring slump. “We played some good hockey until the tying goal. After that, we let it go for a bit, they scored two. That was kind of the turning point of this game. We can’t let it happen.”

Not helping Winnipeg’s cause are injuries, with a trio of defensemen — Josh Morrissey (upper body), Dustin Byfuglien (ankle) and Joe Morrow (lower body) — out of action.

The Predators are licking their wounds after a 2-0 loss to the Blues that same night.

“We could have done a better job,” assessed Predators forward Wayne Simmonds, who was acquired from the Philadelphia Flyers at the trade deadline. “The first period we played well, and the second period, I don’t think we played well from the start of it. Maybe if we capitalize on one of those power plays, it’s a different story.”

The Preds should be concerned about their special teams play of late. They have managed only one power-play goal in the last seven games, capitalizing once in 23 chances. Meanwhile, the penalty kill has surrendered six goals in the last six games, and killed only 16 short-handed situations in the same span.

Nashville will receive one boost for the game, with forward Mikael Granlund, who was acquired from Minnesota at the deadline, suiting up. He missed last game for the birth of his first child.

–Field Level Media

Jets miss out on Stone, get what they needed on deadline day

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A man named Mick once recited some words into a studio microphone and out popped out one of history’s most widely recognized songs.

“You can’t always get what you want” is an excellent summation for general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff and his Winnipeg Jets, who may have lost the Mark Stone Sweepstakes on Monday, but ended up getting what they needed after leading the day with six transactions.

Stone, of course, was the de facto top prize for several teams heading into the day. His homecoming to Winnipeg, the city he grew up in and just a couple hours east of where he played junior hockey, would have been the stuff movies are made of. But when the Jets announced they had acquired Kevin Hayes from the New York Rangers, it was evident that Stone’s ship had passed them by.

Your eyes, understandably, light up when one of the league’s premier two-way players enters the market. It’s a no-brainer that Cheveldayoff and his Cup contender wanted in, and he certainly had the assets to get the deal done.

But when you’re a general manager that has raised a stable of prospects like Cheveldayoff has, parting with them isn’t easy. And if the Jets couldn’t re-sign Stone long-term (and it would have required some significant roster surgery to make it work), then giving up names like Jack Roslovic and Sami Niku likely became a non-starter for what would have amounted to a very expensive rental player.

None of this is to say that the Jets didn’t go out and get what they needed on Monday. The thought process coming into the 2019 trade deadline was similar to that of the year before: the Jets wanted a second-line center to bolster an already potent offense.

They got that in Hayes, 26, who will suit up for the Jets on Tuesday after being acquired for a first-round pick in 2019, a conditional fourth-rounder in 2020 and forward Brendan Lemieux. The Jets didn’t waste any time getting that deal out of the way, either, striking an accord with the Rangers in the early goings of Monday’s proceedings.

“Kevin is a good fit for us in many, many ways,” Cheveldayoff said after hanging up the phone on his sixth and final trade call of the day. “He’s someone, I think everyone talks about, obviously, his size and his offensive abilities, but I really think what’s really going to shine through here is his defensive abilities as well. Penalty killer, responsible — he’s someone, over the course of his career, has grown his game from just being a pure offensive player in high school and in college and grown his game to a really mature professional game.”

Offloading Lemieux was a shrewd move and an example of selling high on a player who was producing above what was expected.

[Winners and losers of the 2019 NHL Trade Deadline]

Winnipeg learned last year when they pulled the wool over the entire league’s eyes and traded for Paul Stastny, just how valuable another center was when added to their lineup. The Jets went all the way to the Western Conference final thanks, in part, to Stastny’s efforts. The expectation is for Hayes to do the same.

The Jets then added two left-shot defensemen, a spot on their roster that needed extra depth, especially after top-pairing d-man Josh Morrissey went down with an apparent arm injury in a 4-1 loss to the Arizona Coyotes on Sunday. With no conclusive status on Morrissey’s diagnosis — or at least that’s what the media was fed on Monday — Winnipeg traded for Nathan Beaulieu and Bogdan Kiselevich, two depth guys who offer enough upside to fill in if need be on the Jets’ back end.

Cheveldayoff wasn’t going to be caught off guard this time around.

“A couple of years ago, the night before the deadline we lost Mark Scheifele and it’s a very difficult situation going in at that point in time when you don’t have options in front of you, there are no centermen on market to really cover yourself with,” Cheveldayoff said. “In this situation here, obviously, Dustin [Byfuglien] is out, Joe Morrow is out and Josh [Morrissey] is still going to be evaluated. The team stayed in Arizona overnight, it was a scheduled travel day the way our schedule is set up. It made it difficult for [Morrissey] to really get assessed by our doctors in a timely fashion and I felt it was appropriate that we need to add the pieces to have the depth moving forward here.”

The rest of the West’s powerhouses all added to their rosters, so Winnipeg needed to do so as well. Hayes is a solid fit for the Jets. The depth defensemen were the insurance plan they required.

And in the end, Winnipeg did what it set out to do: improve its team.


Scott Billeck is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @scottbilleck

WATCH LIVE: Flyers host Jets on NBCSN

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NBCSN’s coverage of the 2018-19 NHL season continues with Monday’s matchup between the Winnipeg Jets and Philadelphia Flyers. Coverage begins at 6 p.m. ET on NBCSN. You can watch the game online and on the NBC Sports app by clicking here.

While the Tampa Bay Lightning lead the NHL with 76 points, the Western Conference has a tighter race at the top, especially in the Central Division, where Winnipeg currently owns the top spot and has four games in hand on the second-place Nashville Predators.

The Jets are currently on pace for 109 points and 52 wins. Last season, the team set franchise records in both wins (52) and points (114), but they still didn’t win the division (Nashville did w/ NHL-best 117 pts).

All-Stars Blake Wheeler and Mark Scheifele are top two on the team in points at 61 and 59, respectively. Kyle Connor is next with 38. Wheeler, tied for ninth in the NHL in points, is second in the league in assists (52) and although his streak of 20-goal seasons may end at five given he has only nine goals, he’s on pace for 104 points, which would be a career high and break Marian Hossa’s franchise record of 100.

In addition to the All-Star break, both teams are coming off their bye weeks, each having last played on Saturday, Jan. 19.

One of the bottom-dwellers of the Eastern Conference, the Flyers sit 14 points back of a playoff spot and are on track to continue their trend of missing the postseason the year after making it. From 1995-2012, the Flyers made the playoffs 16 times in a 17-season span. Since then, Philly has made just three postseasons in the last six years and each in alternating years.

Wayne Simmonds, a popular name in trade talks ahead of the Feb. 25 deadline, has played in all 48 games this season and put up 15 goals but just 23 points. He’s on track for his sixth straight season with 24-plus goals but only 39 points, which would be his fewest in a full season since 2011.

The Flyers are 7-8-2 since interim coach Scott Gordon took over for Dave Hakstol. The coaching change was one of several moves in what has been a tumultuous season for the team that has also included letting go of GM Ron Hextall and replacing him with Chuck Fletcher.

[WATCH LIVE – COVERAGE BEGINS AT 6 P.M. ET – NBCSN]

What: Winnipeg Jets at Philadelphia Flyers
Where: Wells Fargo Center
When: Monday, Jan. 28, 6 p.m. ET
TV: NBCSN
Live stream: You can watch the Jets-Flyers stream on NBC Sports’ live stream page and the NBC Sports app.

PROJECTED LINEUPS

JETS
Kyle Connor – Mark Scheifele – Blake Wheeler
Patrik LaineBryan LittleJack Roslovic
Mathieu PerreaultAdam LowryBrandon Tanev
Brendan LemieuxAndrew CoppMason Appleton

Josh MorrisseyJacob Trouba
Dmitry KulikovTyler Myers
Joe Morrow – Sami Niku

Starting goalie: Connor Hellebuyck

FLYERS
James van RiemsdykClaude GirouxTravis Konecny
Oskar LindblomSean CouturierJakub Voracek
Scott LaughtonNolan Patrick – Wayne Simmonds
Phil Varone – Mikhail Vorobyev – Michael Raffl

Ivan ProvorovTravis Sanheim
Shayne GostisbehereAndrew MacDonald
Robert HaggRadko Gudas

Starting goalie: Carter Hart

Kenny Albert and Brian Boucher will have the call from Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, Pa. Pre-game coverage starts at 6 p.m. ET with NHL Live, hosted by Paul Burmeister alongside Jeremy Roenick and Anson Carter.