JETBLAST: Game Day Preview Feb. 11/12 Jets at Penguins

Pittsburgh Penguins vs Winnipeg Jets

(30-16-5) 65 points (26-24-6) 58 points

6th in East, 4th in Atlantic

10th in East, 3rd in Southeast

Penguins

The Penguins get a big boost after a rocky 1-2-1 road trip with the return of Jordan Staal to the line up. Crosby remains out indefinitely but getting Staal back will take some of the pressure of Evgeny Malkin who has been brilliant this year.

Marc-Andre Fleury has been great against the Jets franchise going 11-2-0 over his last 13 starts with a 1.83 GAA. Don’t expect his goals against to change much as the Jets offense has not scored more than two regulation goals since January 21st when they lost in a 4-3 shoot out to the Florida Panthers.

Jets

Fresh off a big comeback win in Washington the Jets look to extend a two game winning streak over the Penguins this afternoon. The Jets gave up two power play goals but answered back with two of their own 12 seconds apart tying the game with 2.03 left on the clock.

While Byfuglien’s goal was a fluke, Evander Kane’s was not. For a team that has struggled to score and was last in the league for third period goals going into the game it was huge. The comeback will help to silence some critics that feel the Jets are not mentally tough enough to make the playoffs let alone have any success in them. But they need to follow that up with a win in Pittsburgh.

For the second game in a row every player saw more than ten minutes of ice time with Blake Wheeler leading the way for all forwards with over 25. He’s come a long way since struggling early on in the season. On the other side Eric Fehr will most likely be a healthy scratch tonight as Kyle Wellwood (flu) and Tim Stapleton (lower body) should make their returns today.

Keys to Victory

Keep rolling four lines. The Jets need to take some of the pressure off the top two lines to win consistently.

Pavelec can’t let more than two in. The Jets have struggled to score and scoring three or more in regulation is likely a stretch against Fleury.

Jets top two lines have to be better than the Penguins. The Pens have relied on Malkin and with the return of Staal the Jets need to stop him from doing what he does best, scoring on the Jets franchise.

Play high tempo hockey. Pittsburgh has had two days off to Winnipeg’s one. The Jets have to match and beat their tempo and keep the pressure on Fleury.

Get traffic to the front and score ugly. Both goals last game were ugly ones. Kane got a rebound in front and Byfuglien was rewarded for putting the puck on the net. They need to do more of that to beat Fleury.

Injuries

Kyle Wellwood (flu) probable
Tim Stapleton (lower body) probable
Zach Bogosisn (lower body) questionable

Starting Goalies

Jets – Ondrej Pavelec (20-18-6, 2.68, .913) [Unconfirmed]
Penguins – Marc-Andre Fleury (28-13-3, 2.29, .913) [Confirmed]

Prediction

The Jets finally got some luck in their win over Washington on Thursday night, expect it to be on their side once more this afternoon as the Jets squeak by the Penguins.

Winnipeg Jets 2 – Pittsburgh Penguins 1

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Jeff Stevenson is a co-founder of winnipegwhiteout.com and co-host of the popular Jets Hockey Podcast. He grew up in Winnipeg, MB and became very passionate about sports, hockey and the Jets. Now Jeff is proud and honored to help bring news and information about the Winnipeg Jets to fans around the world.