National Hockey League
Stars-Jets Preview
National Hockey League

Stars-Jets Preview

Updated Mar. 4, 2020 2:41 p.m. ET

WINNIPEG -- Expect a little bit of bad blood when the Dallas Stars meet the Winnipeg Jets at the MTS Centre on Thursday night.

It's not that there's any particular score to be settled but when teams play back-to-back games, the hits tend to a little harder, the whacks a little louder and the back checking a little more rigorous.

The Stars drew first the first cut Tuesday night at the American Airlines Center with a 3-2 victory, despite playing without a half-dozen regulars.

"I like the back-to-back," Stars coach Lindy Ruff told the Winnipeg Free Press. "It builds a little bit of emotion inside games. There's usually something that will carry over from game to game. I think in this league sometimes you only play one team in January for the first time."


Jets coach Paul Maurice agreed.

"I like (back-to-back games) an awful lot. I think you get a little more room to work on adjustments that you'd make instead of bouncing around a lot. You can work on themes with the team and I think the rivalries get built a little stronger as well," he said to the Free Press.

The Jets are spending a fair amount of time working on their power play, which sits at an anemic 10 percent -- two goals in 20 chances -- which is 25th in the league. As incredulous as it may sound, that's actually a relative improvement as the Jets were last in the league last year with the man advantage. The penalty-killing is even worse, sitting at 29th with a success ratio of 68.8 per cent.

If they can find something -- anything -- that works, the Jets just might be able to avoid pulling the goalie, something they have done in all six of their games this year. (They have managed to score three goals with the net empty, ultimately pulling off a pair of wins.) The Jets sit at 2-4-0 for four points and are last in the Central Division. Dallas sits in third in the same division with a record of 3-2-1 and seven points.

The Jets will play a whopping 15 games over the next 27 days, including nine on the road. The Stars, meanwhile, are starting a three-game road trip.

The Stars come to Winnipeg with a number of their highest-profile players in sick bay, including forwards Jason Spezza (lower body), Jiri Hudler (illness) and Patrick Sharp (concussion). Captain Jamie Benn didn't skate Wednesday as he's dealing with soreness related to abdominal surgery in the summer. The Jets haven't been immune from the injury bug either as forwards Bryan Little (lower body) and Drew Stafford (upper body) are out indefinitely.

There are precious few connections between the two teams but one player, defenseman Johnny Oduya, enjoys coming back to Winnipeg. He played most of the team's first season after relocating to Winnipeg from Atlanta in 2011-12 before being dealt to Chicago at the trade deadline.


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