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Western Conference

Jets’ Blake Wheeler Says Team Needs Better Goaltending

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When a team finishes with the fourth-highest goals-against per game (3.11) and the third-worst team save percentage (.900), its pretty obvious that upgrades are needed.

The Winnipeg Jets own those dubious statistics and Blake Wheelers knows how important solid goaltending is to the future successes of the Jets.

We need better goaltending. It’s a tough business, and being a goalie is tough” Wheeler said to Matt Larkin of The Hockey News .

“By no means is this closing the door on anyone, but I think having competition back there is really important. Because if you keep putting somebody back in the net, and they’re 24 years old and maybe they’re not quite ready for it, it can be damaging to them a little bit.

And seeing someone go in there who has worked for it, who’s had success doing it, can really only help them. Having competition back there, having that hunger to get back into the net, that’s a huge thing for any team.

The ideal situation is that we have two No. 1 goalies and we ride the hot guy, and the guy who’s not playing is pissed off, and when he gets into the net, he gets hot, and they work out like that.

And if one guy grabs the job and runs with it, that’s great too. There are 31 starting goalie jobs in the entire world, so there’s an incredible amount of competition, so it’s a thankless job a lot of times.

But for us to get to where we need to go, we need to have that position solidified.”

Winnipeg relied on Connor Hellebuyck and Michael Hutchinson to man the net last season and their results weren’t anything to gush over.

Hellebuyck posted 26-19-4 in 56 games with a 2.89 GAA and a .907 save percentage and his counterpart Hutchinson, went 9-12-3 with a 2.92 GAA and a .903 save percentage.

Those numbers are exactly the kind that need improving and Wheeler is calling out his team to make the adjustments.

Winnipeg is hoping that that answered their issue when they signed former Philadelphia Flyers goalie Steve Mason to a two-year deal.

 

Calgary Flames

Flames’ Johnny Gaudreau Enjoying Strong Season

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The Calgary Flames have seen some strong play from forward Johnny Gaudreau, who has played well enough to earn his 5th All-Star selection.

“Obviously he deserves it,” Flames forward Michael Frolik said, according to NHL.com. “He’s an unbelievable player. He’s so fast, and in those small spaces, those tight turns, he can handle the puck with speed. It’s fun to watch him and he’s been great this year.”

Flames defenseman Mark Giordana spoke highly of Gaudreau’s play.

“He can get you the puck in situations where you don’t think he can,” Giordano said. “But I think what people don’t see is just how competitive he is. The guys who are the best players in the League are [competitive] because they want the puck in key situations, and that’s how he is.

“Just look at his overtime play and stuff like that. I’m happy for the way his career is going but this year he’s taken that next step, for sure.”

“I think last year we played with Micheal Ferland, who was a little bit more of a shooter,” Gaudreau said of his strong play this season.

“Lindholm, obviously, is a shooter as well, but he can see the ice really well. He can make some pretty high-end plays, so I think I just got an opportunity to shoot a little more with a player like that on my line.”

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Arizona Coyotes

Coyotes’ Nick Schmaltz Out for Season

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The Arizona Coyotes will be without forward Nick Schmaltz for the remainder of the season with a lower-body injury, according to an official team announcement on Tuesday.

Schmaltz was off to a red hot start since being acquired from the Chicago Blackhawks in November and had been out since December 30th.

Originally, it was though that he would only miss a few weeks, but now the news is much worse for the Yotes.

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News

Canucks’ Elias Pettersson Placed On Injured Reserve, Adam Gaudette Recalled

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The Vancouver Canucks got some good news in regards to the injury sustained by superstar Elias Pettersson, who was moved to the injured reserve list on Tuesday.

Pettersson got tangled up with Montreal Canadiens forward Jesperia Kotkaniemi, but did not sustain major knee damage and is expected to only miss a few weeks of action, dodging a serious injury.

In a corresponding move, Vancouver recalled Adam Gaudette from the Utica Comets.

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