The Winnipeg Jets got bruised up against the Senators in Ottawa on Saturday afternoon, as they were smacked around by a score of 5-2. It isn’t like the Jets to play so poorly against inferior talent, but it happens to the best of teams. That was the third loss in a row for the Jets and second in a row by the same score. Winnipeg dropped a 5-2 decision to the Canadiens before going to Ottawa and getting the same treatment.
Laurent Broissoit got touched up against the Senators yesterday, while Connor Hellebuyck hopes to play better for the Jets on Sunday. With the loss, the Jets fell to 34-18-3 on the season. Despite the three-game losing streak, they’re clearly in the driver’s seat and in a good position. However, San Jose and Calgary are ahead of them for 1st in the Western Conference with 73 points each. It should be a good race to the finish line for the top-seed in this conference.
The Sabres watched their playoff status evaporate pretty quickly. They were cruising and looked like a playoff team, but Buffalo is going to have to fight to just get into the playoffs. They’re the second team out at the moment with 61 points. The Penguins are currently the first team in with 63 points, so it’s going to be a tight finish in the Eastern Conference.
The last win for the Jets came in a 9-3 dismantling of the Anaheim Ducks. Everyone has been making a mockery of the Ducks, so read into it however you want. Having said that, the Jets are a good team and their last few games have just been a little uncharacteristic for them. The Sabres had a nice win over the Red Wings, 3-1, yesterday. Earlier in the season that would have looked like an okay win, but the Red Wings have been playing better hockey so it’s pretty good. Head below for our free Jets vs. Sabres pick for Sunday afternoon in the NHL.
Winnipeg Jets vs. Buffalo Sabres Pick
The Jets have had a good thing going with the tandem of Hellebuyck and Brossoit, but that hasn’t looked like the case this past week. Hellebuyck has seen his numbers move backwards this season, though. After coming close to a Vezina last season, he enters Sunday with a 2.91 GAA and 0.91 save percentage. Brossoit slipped to a 2.30 GAA and 0.934 save percentage with his performance Saturday.
Their offence led by Blake Wheeler and Mark Scheifele has the Jets ranked with some of the best units in the NHL. The Jets are scoring an average of 3.44 goals for 4th in the league. In their last ten games, they’ve notched 3.4 goals per game and allowed 3.1 goals. Buffalo have scored 3.2 goals per game and allowed 4.2 during that same stretch.
Patrik Laine must turn on the elite switch for the Jets soon. He has had an okay season, though Laine is depended on to be a game changer. With 25 goals and 11 assists, he is 4th on the team in points. Most horrifying is his putrid +/- of -15. Laine is going to have to be much more of a contributor for the Jets to go far in the playoffs. If he turns it on, the Jets should be able to get the 1st seed in the Western Conference.
The Sabres have been on a downslope since winning ten games in a row. They’ve gone 10-19 since that point, which looks an awfully like the Sabres from last season. Note that during the ten-game winning streak, nine of their ten wins were by only 1 goal. They could have easily gone 5-5 if the puck didn’t bounce their way. Carter Hutton, who has been struggling, is expected to start against the Jets on Sunday. Hutton has at least 4 goals against in his previous four outings for an average of 4.25 goals allowed. I give the edge to the Jets in Buffalo in this one. Following three straight losses, we likely see a motivated effort by the Jets.