For the first of 6 times this year division rivals Winnipeg Jets and Carolina Hurricanes will meet Thursday night in an important match up. The Southeast division once again looks like it will turn out to be the weakest in the conference. With just 6 points separating first from last it appears the best chance to make the playoffs for these teams may mean winning the division. This makes every inter divisional match up this year a very important, must win game.
Carolina has been a pleasant surprise to its fans early in the season. Backed by former Conn Smythe winner Cam Ward and led offensively by the Stall brothers the Hurricanes have been for the most part strong on both sides of the ice. The Canes flew out of the gate early in the season and have led the Southeast right from day one. Recently due in part to some injuries the Canes have leveled out however they remain a dangerous team if you give them chances.
The Jets played a very solid road game in Buffalo Tuesday that got them a much-needed win. Pavelec was unreal in the net making countless big saves, and on the other end of the ice Winnipeg played very strong managed many chances and although not able to cash in more than twice, they did enough to win and they created enough chances that will eventually go in once this team finds its touch. Although not starting how they would have liked, Winnipeg can pull themselves within 2 points of the division leaders with a win over Carolina. As it was last year the Jets will be in a race for that division title until the end and it may come down to how they play against their division rivals so this a huge game for Winnipeg.
Keys to the Game
Take Advantage: Carolina has been dealt a rough hand in the injury department recently. With 5 players currently out, most recently Jeff Skinner, Carolina has lost a little bit of their scoring touch so it is important for the Jets to play strong defensively and not give Carolina any chances.
First Period: Carolina has not lost a game this year when leading after the first period so this will be a key to Winnipeg. Scoring the first goal, which they have done in their last two games will continue to be huge and could put the Jets on track to another win.
Road Warriors?: For the first time since the move to Winnipeg the Jets are a better road team then they are at home, at least statistically. Though Winnipeg counts on the friendly confines of the MTS center to get many wins, if they want to play games in late April or May they need to get many wins on the road as well.
Ondrej Pavelec (4-8-1) GAA: 2.96 SV% .896
Cam Ward (5-4-1) GAA: 3.19 SV% .901
Miettenen WPG, (Upper body) out
Montoya WPG, (Lower Body) out
Enstrom WPG, (Shoulder) out
Brent CAR, (Lower Body) questionable
Skinner CAR, (Concussion) out
Pitkanen CAR, (Lower Body) out
Gleason CAR, (Lower Body) out
Ruutu CAR, (Hip) out
Last 10 (W-L-OTL)
Jets find some touch around the net
Jets 5 Hurricanes 2