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NHL: Winnipeg Jets @ New York Rangers preview

The Winnipeg Jets continue their journey across the East Coast with a stop at Madison Square Garden to face the in-form New York Rangers on Monday.

The fixture will be the third of a four-game road swing for the Jets during which they are currently winless. Defeats to Columbus Blue Jackets and New Jersey Devils puts their away record at 14-13-1.

New York have just completed a four-game road trip of their own, collecting seven of eight points, with the recent 3-2 overtime defeat to the Calgary Flames ending a seven-game winning run.

The Rangers are 16-9-4 at home, contributing to an overall 33-14-9 record which ranks third in the Metropolitan Division. New York are seven points behind leaders Carolina Hurricanes for first place in the Metropolitan and are +700 to catch them and win the divisional title.

Winnipeg are second in the Central Division with a 34-21-1 record and their 69 points is just three behind Dallas Stars and with two games in hand, the Jets are +425 to finish top.

WhatWinnipeg Jets @ New York Rangers
WhereMadison Square Garden, New York
When7.07pm ET, Monday February 20th
How to watchNHL.com, MSG
OddsWIN Jets +145, NY Rangers -165

Rangers in prime form

The Rangers struggled for consistency in the first half of the NHL season, but appear to have put those troubles behind them as they currently own the longest active point streak in the league at 10 games.

It's over a month since New York last suffered a defeat in regulation, and the run is their best since a 13-game point streak in 2015/16.

Several players have contributed significantly to their recent success, not least forward Artemi Panarin who has points in the last seven games (six goals, nine assists) and leads the team with 65 points (18 goals, 47 assists).

Mike Zibanejad is their leading goal scorer with 30, helping them average 3.36 goals per game which ranks 10th in the league.

Lafreniere response

A major story for the Rangers has been the form of first overall draft pick in 2020 Alex Lafreniere who was made a healthy scratch earlier in the season.

From that disappointment, the 21-year-old has responded positively and has points in six of his last seven games (four goals, two assists) and 10 in his last 11 appearances (five goals, five assists).

After being broken up in the early part of the season, Lafreniere has again been paired with fellow high draft picks, Kaapo Kakko and Filip Chytil and their chemistry has been a major factor for New York's upturn in form.

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Jets reliant on defense

While the Rangers pose a major threat, the Jets own the fourth best defensive record in the NHL, allowing just 2.63 per game and will be confident in their ability to contain them.

The Rangers have also been solid defensively allowing 3.36 goals per game (10th), and with the Jets ranking 17th in the NHL with an average of 3.13 goals per game, they will no doubt be focused on playing a structured game in New York and taking their chances when they come.

That's exactly what Jets did in the season opener against the same opponent during which they were outshot 41-34 on home ice but won 4-1.

Top point scorer Kyle Connor (62; 25 goals, 37 assists) and leading goal scorer Mark Scheifele (32 goals) were both on the scoresheet that night and the Jets will lean on them heavily again, as well as defenseman Josh Morrissey who is having a James Norris Memorial Trophy candidate campaign.

With 56 points (11 goals, 45 assists) the 27-year-old is +800 to win the award. Morrissey ranks second on the Jets for points and first for assists, while he is third among all league defenseman for points and fourth for assists.

Goalie battle

Jets goalie Connor Hellebuyck is also in contention for a major individual award, the Vezina Trophy (+450) which is currently held by the Rangers' Igor Shesterkin.

Hellebuyck has a 25-15-1 record, .924 save percentage and 2.41 goals against average (GAA) and whoever comes out on top between him and Shesterkin at MSG will have a major say on the result. 

Shesterkin is 25-8-7 this season with a .914 save percentage, 2.55 GAA and is +1400 to retain the Vezina.

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