It'll be the first time the Anaheim Ducks see the Winnipeg Jets for the 2015-16 season after sweeping them out of the first round of the playoffs last year, as Anaheim begins an eight game home stand. After coming away with five of a possible six points from their six-game, Pacific Division Canadian jaunt, Anaheim catches a Jets team that has struggled for consistency and finds themselves seven points back of Nashville for the final Western Conference wildcard spot.
Ducks: Friday, January 1 at Vancouver (1-2 SOL)
Jets: Saturday, January 2 at San Jose (4-1 W) "The Shark Slayers!"
It's a case of good news, bad news for the current run of form in Anaheim: the one goal allowed in the past three games is their best stretch of defense of the season. Not a accounting for the Vancouver shootout winner, it's better than a stretch that saw the Ducks shutout the Canucks and Sharks, while suffering a narrow loss to Tampa Bay at the end of November/beginning of December. However, the three goals in three games is also the second lowest scoring stretch of the season since scoring just once in the first four games of the season.
At least the power play has been working the last two games, with Ryan Getzlaf and Ryan Kesler each scoring on a man advantage. Anaheim has a league-low 98 odd man chances for the season, seven fewer than next-lowest Boston, and their eighteen power play scores are tied with Philadelphia for fourth fewest in the league.
While the offense has struggled, the defense focus has shifted to defending, and the Ducks allowed just 50 even strength shots and 60 total on the roadie. The 27.4 shots against per game that Anaheim allows are third fewest in the league, and it's a significant part of why the Ducks have the analytic look of a major contender. Their 53.6 shot attempts percentage at five-on-five is third best in the league, plus 51.6 and 52.2 ES scoring chance and high danger percentages are seventh. Now if only that stubborn 4.7 shooting percentage could tick up some...
Before knocking off San Jose last night, Winnipeg had gone since November 27 with a win on the road, a stretch of six straight away games. The Jets -7 goal differential is actually eighth best in the Western Conference, but the road has not been kind to them as they've allowed 17 more goals than they've scored away from MTS Centre.
While the duo of Blake Wheeler and Bryan Little continue to be amongst the squad's offensive powers, last season's leading scorer Andrew Ladd has been off in the big way this season, going from 24 goals and 62 points in 81 games last year to just 10 goals and 22 points through 38 games this year. It's a bad time for the team captain Ladd to go through a scoring outage, as he's due for a contract extension in the offseason and at 30-years old it puts the Jets in a tough situation with 31-year old to-be defender Dustin Byfuglien also coming up for a new deal.
Two hours before face off we'll have the game thread up, featuring the full Stat Pack, likely with expected lines, and of course your Numbers For Nerds.