For the second time in under a week these two division rivals will meet, this time at the Bridgestone Arena in Nashville. Since their last meeting both teams have suffered losses, Winnipeg a 5-4 shootout loss to Washington, and Nashville a 2-0 defeat in Minnesota. When these two teams met Sunday it was a low point in the Jets season, at this early point anyways. A 3-1 defeat was embarassing for the Jets who played one of their worst performances of the year. As coach Claude Noel put it there were zero “A” games, and this team cannot afford that. Winnipeg must improve if they want a different result Thursday night.
Nashville will be icing the same roster that the Jets saw Sunday night with one large exception. Pekka Rinne will be playing in goal and that poses a large problem for the Jets offence which has been struggling to score goals. Rinne is one of the best in the league and will stop most everything that he can see, and the way the Preds defence often plays that means not much gets past Rinne. Nashville does continue to struggle on offence but as we saw Sunday if you make a mistake they have the ability to make you pay and put one up on the scoreboard. With the added advantage of playing at home if Nashville can play the same tight checking game they played Sunday they will walk away with a win again.
Positives and negatives came from the game Tuesday against Washington but it seems when one hole is plugged, another leak begins. Finally some high paid stars had great nights, Captain Andrew Ladd put up 3 helpers and easily had his best game of the year. As did Bryan Little, who scored 2 goals and generated chance seemingly everytime he touched the puck. However, Just when the Jets seem to break the floodgates and generate some offence, they allow more chances then they had been and give up just as much offence as they create. This does show however that Winnipeg does have the ability to play in all 3 zones, they just need to show the ability to do it all in one night.
Play Ahead: Falling behind against a team like Nashville can be dangerous, the way they play defence can suffocate you, and once you get behind you may not have a chance to catch up.
Mistake free Hockey: Although Nashville is exceptionally skilled on the back end, they still struggle in the offensive zone. In Sunday nights game the Jets made mistakes and gave Nashville 3 goals. When you make mistakes this team will make you pay, so play smart and don’t give the Predators a chance to take advantage.
Build momentum: This is the first game of a 4 game stretch against Central division opponents, and the start of a long hard road trip. The Jets will not get any easy wins and will have to be at the top of their game everynight if they want to win. That starts Thursday night in Nashville where they hope to play well and build towards the rest of the trip.
Ondrej Pavelec (3-5-1) GAA: 3.09 SV% .901
Pekka Rinne (4-4-1) GAA: 2.31 SV% .917
Trouba WPG, (neck) out
Stuart WPG, (lower body) day-to-day
Thorburn WPG, (undisclosed) out
Slater WPG, (lower body) day-to-day
Fisher NSH, (lower body) day-to-day
Josi NSH, (concussion) out
Jets put it all together
Jets 4 Predators 2