5 things you should know about the Winnipeg Jets vs Minnesota Wild playoff series
For almost two weeks, Winnipeg Jets fans have known their team was in the NHL playoffs. But who they were facing in the opening round was only decided Thursday.
With the Nashville Predators securing the top spot in the Western Conference, the Jets will take on the Minnesota Wild.
The best-of-seven series starts Wednesday.
- Playoff appearances
The post-season is nothing new for Minnesota. The team has been in the playoffs for the past six seasons and is making its ninth appearance since joining the league in 2000.
The Winnipeg Jets are still relatively new to the post-season. Including its time in Atlanta, this is only the third time in 18 seasons the franchise has qualified for the playoffs.
The team is still looking for its first playoff win. It was swept by the Anaheim Ducks in four games during their last showing in the 2014-15 season. When the franchise was in Atlanta it lost all four post-season games against the New York Rangers in the 2006-2007 season.
- Home ice advantage
Winnipeg has beaten Minnesota three of the four times the two teams met this season.
Since the franchise moved to Winnipeg, it has played the Wild 26 times and won 14 those games.
The Jets secured home ice for the series, meaning the team will play its first two games at Bell MTS Place. If needed, games five and seven would also be played in Winnipeg.
It’s a rink the Wild have struggled at, winning just five of 13 games there.
Minnesota has the winning record at Xcel Energy Centre, netting seven wins in 13 games against the Jets.
One key factor for both teams is how close the rinks are to each other. There is no time difference between Minnesota and Manitoba.
The flight between Winnipeg and Minneapolis-Saint Paul is under 90 minutes.
When the Jets faced the Ducks in the 2015 playoffs, players and fans dealt with a two-hour time difference.
If Wild or Jets fans wanted to, they could even follow the team on the road. The Twin Cities are a regular road trip for many Winnipeggers. The drive is less than eight hours.
- Top scorers
The Winnipeg Jets have the slight edge when it comes to leading scorers.
Patrik Laine has 44 goals so far this season while the Wild’s top scorer, Eric Staal, has netted 42 goals. Stall does manage to have nine more assists than Laine’s 26.
Even though Staal leads Minnesota in overall points at 76, he doesn’t come close to Winnipeg’s top point getter.
Blake Wheeler has recorded a personal-best 91 points in the regular season. The captain has also played one less game than Staal.
- Players with 20+ goals
Winnipeg also tops the depth chart, with five players scoring 20 or more goals this season. Minnesota has three players in that category.
At 31 goals, Kyle Conner has had an impressive rookie season with the Jets. His name is also being tossed around as a possible Calder Memorial Trophy winner for the league’s top rookie.
Excluding goalkeepers, every player on the Jets’ roster has also scored at least one goal. Four Minnesota players have been kept of the goal sheet.
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