JETBLAST: WINNIPEG @ OTTAWA

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JETBLAST

Winnipeg Jets (19-18-5) at Ottawa Senators (17-18-7) 6:30 p.m., Canadian Tire Centre TV: TSNJets, SNET-E Radio: TSN 1290 TSN 1200

Two cross country rivals square off for their first games of 2014 in Ottawa Thursday evening when the Winnipeg Jets visit the Senators. The cross country rivals are both on rolls as of late winning two and three game straight respectivly. The Sens knocked off Boston and Washington both on the road while Winnipeg hold wins over Minnesota, Colorado, and Buffalo. Both Canadian cities however are still the homes of non playoff teams. Ottawa, although being below .500, is only a few points out of a spot, while the Jets who for the first time in a couple weeks sit one game above .500, still have a steep mountaing to climb. The Jets and Sens look to extend their streaks and move a little closer to some playoff hockey Thursday night, Lets go!

Senators

The Senators have been a very dissapointing team this season. Last year Ottawa appeared to take a huge step in their development and were near the top of the East for much of the season. The Sens have taken a step back however and are back to being just another team in the hunt. A big reason for that is the play of Craig Anderson. Anderson made his way into Vezna talk last season but so far this season has not been able to recapture that form. He has spent time on the IR, and when healthy has rarely found his A game. The Sens scoring has left much to be desired as well, after losing captain and long time leader Daniel Alfreddson in the offseason, Ottawa planned to lean on Jason Spezza and Bobby Ryan to carry the load. Though they both have had fine years, it was not as good as the Sens had hoped, that combined with the major step back that Milan Michalek has taken offensivley, has hurt the Sens.

Jets

The Jets have won 3 straight, no that is not a typo, 3 wins in a row for Winnipeg. Not something Jets fans have seen a lot of since the return but I am sure they could get used to it. The main key of these games has been Al Montoya. Since taking over in the wild game against Minnesota, Montoya has been near perfect. Just one goal allowed in over 9 full periods and almost an entire overtime. The Jets have played better, but Montoya has been there to bail them out time and time again when needed. Coach Noel will be riding the hot goalie in Ottawa as Montoya stays in to take on the Sens, and he appears to be the horse the Jets will ride until he can no longer carry the load. The Jets are now only 6 points out of a playoff spot, with 3 games in the next 4 nights, they have a chance to get back in the discussion, or go right back to being an after thought.

Keys to the Game

The Olympian: Wedensday afternoon Blake Wheeler was named to the American Olympic team. The winger who started slow has picked it up in the last month or so and may have played his way back on to the team, luckily the Jets have him playing on their team.

Karlsson: Erik Karlsson leads all defensemen in the NHL in points, as well as leading his team. Averaging nearly a point a game (38 points in 42 games) Karlsson is a threat every time he touches the ice. The Jets must find a way to slow him down or they may find themselves in trouble.

Start strong: 3 road games in 4 nights. Lose Thursday and a successful road trip is near impossible. Get the win and move on to the next game with all the momentum in your favor.

Starting Goalies

Al Montoya (8-2-1) GAA: 1.85 SV% .934
Craig Anderson (12-9-4) GAA: 3.17 SV% .904

Injuries

Slater WPG, (Sports Hernia) out
Postma WPG, (blood clot) out
Halischuk WPG, (arm) out
Clitsome WPG, (illness) out

Spezza OTT, (lower body) out
Phillips OTT, (foot) day-to-day

Last 10 (W-L-OTL)

Jets: 5-4-1
Senators: 5-4-1

Prediction

Keep rolling on the back of Al Montoya
Jets 2 Senators 1

Become an MVP

Become an MVP with Winnipeg Whiteout and never miss a thing.

Diehard Winnipeg sports fan. Agree or disagree with something I wrote? Find me on twitter @seantheoilcan and let me know Go Jets Go!

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