What may end up being the most important game of this series has already happened, and no, it was not the Game 2 OT thriller. It was Connor Hellebuyck’s ability to steal Game 1 on the road for the Jets at Nashville’s rowdy Bridgestone Arena. In a game where the Jets only had 30% of the total shots directed towards the net, Hellebuyck backstopped Winnipeg to the one road win they desperately needed in this series.
With both teams splitting the first two games in Nashville, the table now turns in Winnipeg’s favour. The Jets can take a stranglehold lead in this series by simply doing what they do better than any other team; just win at home.
Winnipeg finished the 2017-18 season with the league’s best home record, accumulating an unbelievable 32-7-2 record on home ice. The team has won it’s last 12 home games, which includes an unblemished 3-0 record in the playoffs. Their home goals for/goals against differential shaped up to be a plus-1.34 in 2017-2018 — that’s the fourth highest total in the last eight years.
So what makes this club so unstoppable at home?
Winnipeg’s top five point producers — Blake Wheeler, Patrik Laine, Mark Schiefele, Nikolaj Ehlers, and Kyle Connor — recorded 197 points at Bell MTS Place. To put that into perspective, the Nashville Predators — who are a great home team in their own right (28-9-4 on home ice this season) — only saw 154 points from their top five (Filip Forsberg, Viktor Arvidsson, P.K Subban, Ryan Johansen, and Roman Josi) at Bridgestone Arena.
The Jets have a proven knack for elevating their game when playing in Winnipeg and a big reason for that surely falls onto the players. But we’d would be remiss if we didn’t think the fans had something to do with their success.
— Mayor Brian Bowman (@Mayor_Bowman) April 14, 2018
This type of fan support has been on display all season long and has helped make the building a tough place for opponents to play. And while the ‘WhiteOut’ is in full effect inside Bell MTS Place, you can bet that there is an even bigger party going on outside.
Kicking off the jets game with a couple 10,000 fans . The runway street party. pic.twitter.com/wqkQM5AyXW
— kurtis Kosack (@KurtisKosack) April 14, 2018
— Dana Hatherly (@dana_hatherly) April 21, 2018
— Tim and Sid (@timandsid) April 20, 2018
Winnipeg has recently been home to many street parties, and yes, even a wedding reception. However, the bond between the Jets and the city of Winnipeg appears to be stronger than any marriage has ever been. The marriage liturgy reads “Till death us do part,” and the town of Winnipeg has already seen the death of their hockey team. But 22 years after it’s decease, both the fans and the team have been revitalized and are stronger than ever before.
The Nashville Predators will have a tough task on their hands when they arrive and try to stop the party happening in Winnipeg.
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