This afternoon, the Winnipeg Jets and Nashville Predators will square off in a battle between two teams at the outskirts of the playoff conversation. Nashville has been able to sneak into the playoffs with some regularity in the past few years, while the Jets are still mired in their post-Atlanta funk, in which they still seem like an expansion team, where every minor success seems much more important than perhaps it is. They’ve reached the playoffs once since returning to Edmonton, and were whitewashed.
Both teams continue to fit their archetype of the last several years, but with one notable exception. They each have an exciting newcomer sitting in third in points on the team. The Predators, anchoring one of the two wild card spots traded for PK Subban this offseason, and he is anchoring the blue line, with 5 goals and 9 assists. In Winnipeg, the Jets are currently playing below .500, but have a young team that seems on the verge of putting it together. They drafted Finnish dynamo Patrik Laine, who leads the Jets with 12 goals, and has 6 assists for good measure. Maybe Laine will be the flame that lights the explosive potential the Jets have, like Subban is the keystone that keeps the Predators stable.
Subban and Laine are new faces, but they tell the same story their franchises have told for the last 5 years.