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DETROIT — Can date with the Detroit Red Wings — currently toiling in the basement of the NHL standings — be the remedy for what’s been ailing the Winnipeg Jets?
We’ll find out tonight, as the 6-3-1 club looks for some redemption following Wednesday night’s 4-2 loss to Toronto. The Wings are just 1-6-2 and haven’t played since a Monday-night defeat on home ice to Carolina.
“We’ve got areas of our game that we need to get better. There’s pieces of our game we need to improve,” coach Paul Maurice said following this morning’s skate at Little Caesars Arena.
Backup goalie Laurent Brossoit will make his third start of the year, which means Connor Hellebuyck will likely get the call Saturday night in the re-match against the Maple Leafs. After that, the Jets are off to Finland for a pair of games next week against the Florida Panthers.
“Back-to-back coming up, Laurent’s played exceptionally well and we want to keep him in that rotation,” said Maurice.
There are no other lineup changes, meaning Nic Petan and Joe Morrow will be the healthy scratches. However, Maurice is keeping the same top two lines together that finished Wednesday’s game. That means Mark Scheifele between Blake Wheeler and Nikolaj Ehlers and Bryan Little between Patrik Laine and Kyle Connor.
“Well, you’d prefer to have your lines going the way you’d like and everyone playing to their optimum,” Maurice said. “But it’s also not necessarily a bad thing, because we change those lines around, move people around a fair amount. And it’s good you get used to doing that, so when you do it in a game it’s not a shock. It’s going to happen over and over again over the course of the year.”
Ehlers broke a 26-game scoring drought against Toronto and will be looking to build some momentum on the No. 1 trio.
Connor, a Michigan native, is looking forward to playing in front of family and friends for just the third time in his NHL career.
“It’s always awesome coming back. Spent so much time here growing up and still do in the summers,” he said.
That excitement is shared by fellow Michigan natives Andrew Copp and Jacob Trouba.
“We definitely have a little bit of Michigan-versus-the world vibe in the room for sure,” said Copp.
Detroit will start veteran Jimmy Howard in goal while also welcoming back veteran defenceman Mike Green following an injury.
PROJECTED JETS LINEUP:
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.