The Winnipeg Jets start the season on the west coast with a matchup against the Anaheim Ducks with both teams hoping to start the season out strong. The Jets won 30 games last season and advanced to the Second Round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs while the Ducks only won 17 games last season but are hoping the young core of players can take a big leap this season. Both teams are hoping to start the season on the right foot and as result, the upcoming game looks to be a good one.
Jets return potent offenseThe Jets had a great season last year led by a potent offense that scored 3.04 goals per game. The jets return many of the key contributors from last season offensively with Nikolaj Ehlers, Mark Scheifele, and Kyle Connor all returning to the top line after combining for 68 goals and 91 assists last season. In addition, the Jets return many of their back end of the forward unit including Blake Wheeler and Pierre-Luc Dubois who combined for 23 goals and 43 assists last season.
The offense has led the way but the defense played well last season, allowing only 2.71 goals per game. The question for the unit will be how they replace Derek Forbort who led the team last year with 115 blocked shots and also contributed 2.6 defensive point shares. The hope is that Neal Pionk builds off a strong season where he contributes 3.0 defensive point shares and 74 blocked shots while the team also added Brendan Dillion and Nate Schmidt in the offseason, two defensemen that look to strengthen the unit. In addition, the Jets will turn to one of the best goaltenders in the game in Connor Hellebyuck who had a .916 save percentage and allowed 2.58 goals per game on 1335 shots.
Ducks hope offense can step up from last seasonThe Ducks were one of the worst teams in the NHL last season and possessed an offense that only scored 2.21 goals per game. Max Comtois and Adam Henrique were the only two forwards with 10 goals or more last season and both return to lead the offense once again but the hope is 20-year-old Trevor Zegras can take a big leap this season as he is one of the best prospects in the NHL.
The offense was the downfall of the Ducks the defense also struggled, allowing 3.16 goals per game last season and hopes to rebound this year. Cam Fowler and Kevin Shattenkirk returned to the unit and combined for 5.0 defensive point shares and 94 blocked shots last season but the rest of the unit struggled and looks to become a reoccurring problem for the Ducks. Despite the defensive struggles, John Gibson has been one of the better goaltenders in the NHL with a .903 save percentage and 2.98 goals allowed per game on an overwhelming 1042 shots and looks to split starts with Anthony Stolarz in the net for this season.