Colorado Avalanche at Winnipeg Jets
|(29-26-4) 62 points||(28-26-6) 62 points|
11th in West, 3rd in Northwest
10th in East, 3rd in Southeast
The Avalanche are wrapping up a four game road trip tonight after getting their first win on it against Edmonton, by the score of 3-1 Friday night. Goaltending has been of question all year in the Mile High city and with Jean Sebastian Giguere out of the line up it’s Semyon Varlamov to prove he was worth the price the Avs paid to acquire during last years off-season.
Colorado and Winnipeg both sit with 62 points, and almost identical numbers up and down the board, the biggest numbers difference comes on the power play with the Avs scoring 19.2% and the Jets only lighting the lamp a measly 16.4%. Winnipeg came to town once this year and left with a 4-1 victory thanks in part to two goals by Evander Kane. The young sharp shooter has been playing better as of late so stopping him will be key for the Avalanche.
The good news out of Denver is that third year forward Matt Duchene should return to the line up tonight. He has 12 goals and 12 assists in 39 games so far this year after putting up 55 and 67 points his first two years in injury free campaigns. The young goal star should help bolster an Avs offense that has had as much trouble scoring this season as our Jets have.
The Jets did the unthinkable when they knocked off the defending Stanley Cup Champions for a second time at the MTS Centre on Friday night. This time to the tune of 4-2 and the unthinkable part was it was the second game in two nights. Winnipeg had been 0-9 in back to back games and I stated that I had a better chance of winning the lottery then they did of winning that game. Lets just say I’ve gone out and bought a lottery ticket after that surprising victory.
Pavelec was great again and made some big saves and as we enter the stretch drive he will be called on to repeat that performance nightly, baring an injury he should likely start 19 of the remaining 22 games. The Jets MVP will have to continue to do so if they are to make the playoffs this year. Speaking of the playoffs the Jets sit only 2 points back of 8th place Toronto Maple Leafs who have only 1 game in hand. They sit 6 points back of 7th place Ottawa Senators who have also played 60 games. For the division title and a 3rd seed the Jets sit 1 point back of 2nd place Washington Capitals who have 2 games in hand and 3 points back of division leading Florida Panthers who have 3 games in hand.
I said at the start of the season, on CBC radio that the Jets would make the playoffs before the Leafs do, it would appear that if the Jets make the playoffs it may be in the spot the Leafs hold right now. Either way the Jets have a legitimate shot at 3rd, 7th or 8th. To catch up to 4th, 5th or 6th is most likely to high to climb thanks to the three-point games. The stats gurus are projecting 90 points to slide into 8th spot but I still feel the target of 93 points is the real mark and for the Jets to get there they have to continue to be dominant on home ice.
They would need 31 points in the last 22 games, that translates to dropping only 13 points out of a possible 44 so anything more than six loses and an overtime loss or combination that leaves 14 points on the board and the Jets playoff aspirations are gone. That still falls into the win 3 of 4 games that we’ve mentioned recently, however with a win over Boston and games against the Flyers, Lightning, Blues, Oilers, Panthers and Sabres left on this 8 game home stand the Jets have a more than fair shot to put up their biggest win streak of the season. The Blues and Panthers should be the two teams that give the Jets trouble, but on home ice any team is beatable short of maybe the New York Rangers who come to down once more before the year is done.
Keys to Victory
Keep the Stars shining. The top six of the Jets have been just that the last two games, they need this to continue to be able to win games more than 2-1.
Hit Duchene. Anytime a player is coming back from injury you want to make sure he has a rough time getting his game going against you. The tried and true method is take the body on him anytime you can and make his return a rough one.
Pucks on net with traffic. Varlamov has struggled this year and lost his starting role to Giguere. The Jets need to keep pouring on the shots but need to make sure to get bodies in front to give the Avs tender headaches all night long.
Score first and don’t let up. At home the first goal has been huge for the Jets, they are 12-2 (3-1 loss to Islanders and 2-1 loss to Devils) when scoring first at home and 5-9 when the visitors get the first goals of the game. When the Jets score first and get a second goal in the game they are unbeaten at home going 10-0.
Zach Bogosian (Upper Body) – Questionable
Jets – Ondrej Pavelec (21-20-6, 2.77, .910) [Unconfirmed]
Avalanche – Semyon Varlamov (15-17-2, 2.90, .902) [Confirmed]
The Jets will come out on fire and Pavelec will be unbeatable. Sorry to our friends over at Avs Hockey Podcast but the Jets will defend home ice and take the season series 2-0 and give us bragging rights.
Winnipeg Jets 2 – Colorado Avalanche 0