Getting back up to top offensive speed won’t be easy for the slumping Winnipeg Jets when they host the St. Louis Blues Monday.
The Jets have lost three of their last four games while scoring just four times in those defeats. The defensive-minded Blues come into Winnipeg with a 3-0-0 record and just five goals allowed.
Winnipeg will once again play without top-line winger Nikolaj Ehlers, who remains on injured reserve. Mason Appleton has filled in for him on that line with Mark Scheifele and Kyle Connor.
“We’re early in the season. I think we know the type of talent we have in our locker room and the offense we possess here,” Jets defenseman Josh Morrissey said after his team fell to the Toronto Maple Leafs 4-1 on Saturday. “And I think there’s no need for (frustration) this early on. We’ve had some nights where we’re playing — and first of all, we’re playing against good teams in our league right now that aren’t giving up much.
“When you’re looking at the way they defended, they defended hard. Their neutral zone especially. We’re still getting used to our system and as we get comfortable, that offense is going to come, and, as I said, we’re not worried about that at all.”
The Blues could offer a challenge similar to what the Jets faced against Toronto, the Vegas Golden Knights and the Dallas Stars this season. St. Louis is coming off a 2-0 shutdown of the explosive Edmonton Oilers on Saturday.
“It was a real good effort by everybody on the team,” Blues coach Craig Berube said. “I think that we limited their rush attack by having good (neutral zone coverage) and being tight. We checked well tonight. That’s the difference in the game. We checked well.”
Blues defenseman Nick Leddy noted his team’s special attention paid for elite Edmonton forwards Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl.
“They’re some of the best players in the world,” Leddy said. “The speed that (McDavid) can play at. Draisaitl, the way he can slow the play down and make those plays. They’re two tough guys to play against. But if you have that good team defense, and frustrate them as much as you can, it’s a recipe for success.”
The Blues could once again be without top-line winger Pavel Buchnevich, who has missed the past two games with a lower-body injury.
“We’ll have to re-evaluate it, or hopefully a little rest will help,” Berube said.
Against the Oilers, Berube played 11 forwards and seven defensemen while giving blue-liner Calle Rosen just 5:19 of ice time in his first action of the season.
“(Rosen) didn’t get a ton of ice time,” Berube said. “But the six guys that played all the minutes, they did a great job. They defended hard. They kept them on the outside. And they made good puck plays out of our ends.”
Forward Logan Brown could play his first game of the season after recovering from his preseason shoulder injury.
Goaltender Jordan Binnington started the first three games of the season, so Berube may turn to backup Thomas Greiss as his team concludes its three-game road trip.
–Field Level Media