JETBLAST: WINNIPEG @ TORONTO

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JETBLAST

Winnipeg Jets (34-34-10) at Toronto Maple Leafs (38-32-8) at 6:00 p.m., Air Canada Centre,TV: CBC Radio:TSN 1290

A game after officially being eliminated from the playoff hunt the Jets try to do the same to another team fighting to punch their ticket to the post season dance when they visit the Toronto Maple Leafs on Hockey Night in Canada. The Jets saw their hopes statistically crushed with the loss to Pittsburgh Thursday, however the Jets have known for weeks their playoff hopes were all but dead. The Leafs on the other hand, were at one point a lock to make the playoffs, sitting 3rd in the Conference. An 8 game losing streak later and they need every point they can muster just to try and get in. The Jets won game one of the season series on a Dustin Byfuglien overtime goal in January, the Leafs look to get revenge and earn two extremely important points Saturday night, Lets Go!

Maple Leafs

The Leafs have been a team of streaks in the last couple months. Their string of 8 straight losses played them right out of an almost assured playoff spot, and they now need to pretty much win out for a shot at the post season. The Leafs have taken their last two however and put themselves back in the discussion. Siting just a point behind the Columbus Blue Jackets for the last spot, if they can win tonight they will be back in possession of that last spot, though Columbus will have two games in hand. With only 4 games remaining the Leafs are definitely behind the 8 ball, but if they can rattle off these last four games and earn the eight possible points they will put themselves in the driver seat. It looks as though they will need to do this without the services of their number one goaltender however as Jonathan Bernier, who was hurt in the Bruins game, will not be ready for Saturday and is uncertain the rest of the season. It will fall into the hands of James Reimer, and the team will largely go as he does.

Jets

Another loss drops the Jets back down to .500 on the season and with only 4 games remaining on their schedule it is experiment time for Winnipeg. It would appear Michael Hutchinson will get his first National Hockey League start on Saturday. Coach Maurice stated he wants to get Hutchinson in the net before the end of the season, and this seems like a good opportunity. Hutchinson is 15-5 for St. Johns and his amazing play since Eddie Pasquale went down with injury, may have pushed him ahead on all the depth charts. The Jets will also continue to look long and hard at the guys playing on their third and fourth lines right now, trying to decide who has a spot next year, whose spot may be up for grabs, and who they may want to deal.

Keys to the Game

Goaltending: Reimer was shaky to say the least in his last few starts but he will now be relied on to take this team to the playoffs. On the other end it looks like a rookie will get his first start in front of the whole nation, how he responds goes a long way to deciding the game

Top Line: Kessel, JVR, and Bozak carry the Leafs offensively, it is no surprise that while they struggled the team did as well. They come up big against Boston, each getting on the score sheet. If they can get hot they’ll give the Leafs a chance.

Beat the Evil Empire: Though Jets fans are down and out when it comes to playoffs, knocking out the Leafs would be a pretty great feeling to many fans. Play spoiler and ruin the Leafs hopes.

Starting Goalies

Michael Hutchinson (First NHL Start) With St. Johns (AHL):  (15-5-1) GAA: 2.33 SV% .923
James Reimer (12-13-1) GAA: 3.39 SV% .908

Injuries

Clitsome WPG, (Back surgery) out
Scheifele WPG, (MCL) out
Wright WPG, (lower body) out
Pavelec WPG, (lower body) day-to-day
Thorburn WPG, (lower body) day-to-day
Bogosian WPG, (unknown) day-to-day

Bernier TOR, (lower body) out
Lupul TOR, (lower body) day-to-day

Last 10 (W-L-OTL)

Jets: 4-5-1
Maple Leafs: 2-8-0

Prediction

Jets spoil Leafs party
Jets 3 Maple Leafs 2

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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