The Panthers have played the Winnipeg Jets franchise 81 times - so tonight makes one full season. So far, Florida owns a 32-32-12 record against the Jets, with five ties. Last season, they played twice, with each squad earning a 5-2 win at home. Tonight's matchup is the first of two this season, with the rematch in Sunrise on March 12th.
Winnipeg will roll out Andrew Ladd, Mathieu Perrault, Evander Kane and Chris Thorburn on the left side.
Ladd leads the team in scoring, and is one of a staggering seven Jets to appear in every game, and he plays nearly 20 minutes per night. He has 16 goals on 126 shots with 19 assists and a team-leading four game winning goals. He's third on the club with 103 shots, faces the toughest competition, and is currently at plus-40 with 56% positive zone starts. He's tough and capable of bringing pressure to dish out solid hits. He's a noted scorer, but lacks consistency due to a lack of consistency at times.
Perreault has scored 11 goals on 88 shots in 42 games, along with 13 assists. He plays around 17 minutes per game against harder than average competition and has totaled 50 hits on the year. Sometimes, he lines up at center, and wins 52% of his faceoffs. He has outstanding hockey sense and playmaking skills, and he's extremely quick. His limited size (5'10") sometimes leads to him biting off a little more than he can chew. He starts 48% of his shifts on the offensive side of the ice, and currently sits at plus-100 Corsi on the season.
Kane plays against average competition and starts 45% of the time in the offensive zone. He owns a plus-36 Corsi and averages 19:27 per night. He's scored seven times on 95 shots with nine assists and a team-second 50 penalty minutes. He's an impressive skater and a gritty competitor who will not back down from confrontation. He has a lot of confidence, but sometimes locks up deciding when to shoot and when to pass. He currently ranks fourth on the team with 94 hits.
Thorburn has two goals on 27 shots, along with an assist, a minus-3 rating and 47 penalty minutes. He plays around six minutes per game and has laced up in every contest but one this season. He has good size and strength, will take on all comers, and can play any forward position. He's a good penalty killer, but he sometimes shows that his bark is worse than his bite. He's totaled 43 hits on the season so far, and has earned a minus-35 Corsi with 48% Positive zone starts against the weakest competition.
Bryan Little, Mark Scheifele, Adam Lowry and Jim Slater will get the minutes at the pivot tonight.
Little faces the toughest competition and starts 55% of his shifts in the offensive zone. He's earned a plus-50 Corsi so far this year, and has played in every game averaging 20 minutes per night. He's second on the club with 33 points, with 16 goals on 80 shots along with 17 helpers and a team-second plus-8 rating. He's a good playmaker with an above average wrist shot and natural defensive instincts. He wins 48.6% of his faceoffs.
Scheifele has 44 hits and 28 blocked shots, and plays 18:23 per game. He's played in every game, and has scored seven times with 15 assists. Equally at home scoring goals or setting up teammates, he has good hockey sense and instincts. He's not the greatest without the puck, and hasn't quite grown into his 6'2" frame yet. He's also not so good in the faceoff circle, winning 43.1% of his attempts. He starts 46% of the time in the positive zone against tough competition, and has a plus-75 Corsi to show for it.
Lowry plays against average opponents, starting 56% of the time on the offensive end and has earned a plus-40 Corsi. He's totaled five goals on 51 shots along with five assists and 32 penalty minutes, with a team-leading 133 hits and a 45.9% success rate in the dot. He's not a natural scorer, but he knows how to use his size effectively. This season, he's played just under 13 minutes per game.
Slater plays 8:29 per game on Winnipeg's fourth line, and has scored a goal and two assists with 31 penalty minutes. He also has 64 hits, 23 blocked shots, and a team-best 56.1% faceoff rate. He plays the easiest minutes, starting 43% on the offensive side with a minus-48 Corsi. He's great on the forecheck and the backcheck, effectively using his speed. A penalty kill expert, he checks skilled forwards well. His offensive game leaves a lot to be desired.
Blake Wheeler, Michael Frolik, Matt Halischuk, and Anthony Peluso will line up on the right side tonight.
Wheeler is a very imposing 6'5", with good reach. He's fast, controls the puck effectively, and has a good scoring touch, best observed in high traffic areas. He lacks defensive-zone coverage, and doesn't effectively use his size. He's tied for second on the team with 33 points, with 12 goals on 129 shots and a team leading 21 assists. He also has 66 hits and 34 blocked shots. Wheeler leads the team with a plus-120 Corsi rating with 50% Zone Starts against tough competition, playing 20 minutes per game.
Ex-Panther Frolik starts 53% in the offensive zone, has a plus-40 Corsi rating, and plays the hardest minutes, 16:38 per game. He has scored eight goals on 100 shots, with 14 assists and only 10 penalty minutes. He's fast and versatile, but still shows a lot of inconsistency in his game.
Halischuk plays a mature two-way game, is a natural leader and a natural penalty killer. His game is somewhat limited, and he will probably never progress beyond the bottom-six. He's scored two goals and three assists in 10 minutes per game with 32 hits. He starts 51% of his shifts in the offensive zone, and has collected a plus-20 Corsi against less-than-average competition.
Peluso plays 5:39 per game and has a goal, an assist, and 32 penalty minutes in 23 contests. He's 6'3", 235 lbs, and a capable enforcer. He's prone to bad penalties, and lacks skating ability at the NHL level.
Tobias Enstrom (one goal, 10 assists, 39 blocked shots) and Zach Bogosian (two goals, eight assists, 64 hits, 34 blocked shots) are the only defenders who start a majority of the time in the offensive zone, around 53% of their shifts. They haven't been matched together all season, as evidenced by Enstrom having faced the toughest competition with a corresponding minus-8 Corsi and Bogosian playing easier minutes and leading the defensive corps with a plus-20 Corsi. Enstrom runs a tight power play, has good hockey sense and a decent shot. He logs 25 minutes per game. Bogosian has good mobility, likes to carry the puck, and has a heavy shot with a decent amount of offensive spark. He plays around 22 and a half minutes per game.
Ben Chiarot (one goal, three assists, 35 hits, 30 blocked shots) and Dustin Byfuglien (nine goals, 16 assists, 133 hits, 38 blocked shots) will form the Jets' second pairing. Byfuglien is a gigantic defenseman, 6'5", 265 lbs. He skates well and has a heavy shot, and can also play forward if needed. He's not always consistent, and his size sometimes restricts him from getting the first step. Chiarot is a little raw defensively, and not yet a shutdown skater at the NHL level, but he shows a lot of potential offensively. They play the majority of the time against weaker competition, start 48% of the time in the positive zone, and average plus-17 Corsi between the two of them.
Mark Stuart (one goal, eight assists, 76 hits, 78 blocked shots) and Jay Harrison (one goal, one assist, 19 hits, 20 blocked shots) round out the blueline for the Jets. They start 48% of the time in the offensive zone and are right about even Corsi. Stuart is a fluent skater and a stay-at-home defenseman with natural leadership instincts, but he's not a very good puck handler, and he's not very aggressive. Harrison recently arrived via the Carolina Panthers, and has only played 11 games in the 'Peg. He struggles with quicker forwards and isn't the most punishing defender, but he's large and strong enough to be effective in his own zone.