The Calgary Flames did it, not only did they clinch their own playoff spot, but Winnipeg’s fans also could switch over to the game Thursday night and see their playoff hopes realized. The Flames fought the odds and despite all the experts telling them it was a rebuild, despite losing their captain for the year shortly after the All Star break, the team pulled together and made it happen. It will be the Flames first playoff trip since 2008, and they have a ton of young guns to thank for it, and who should make this the first year of many. Sean Monahan and Johnny “Hockey” Gaudreau, are second and third on the team in scoring. The sophmore, and the rookie should carry this team for years to come, and Flames fans hope they can carry them through the first round of the playoffs.
The Jets could not quite get the job done themselves, dropping a 1-0 shootout decision in Colorado, but they more than earned their place in the playoffs over the past couple months. The Jets have overcome stretches of injuries that have taken out their entire defensive corps over the year, and only a handful of Jets have escaped the season without missing game due to some type of injury. The Jets could not have pulled this off without the play of Ondrej Pavelec recently, he has carried the Jets the last couple weeks, including 3 straight shutouts his last three games. The Jets will continue to need him to be big if they want to make any noise in the playoffs. Winnipeg does not have much to play for heading into Saturday afternoon, but it will be a tune up for the fans, one last dress rehearsal before the Whiteout takes over, and playoff hockey returns to Winnipeg. Get ready, a storm is coming!
Prove Yourself: Winnipeg will be sitting many of their usual starters, and the guys they will count on once the playoffs hit. Saturday afternoon, the Jets will suit a couple rookies, and some guys who do not have everyday NHL jobs at the moment. This will be a proving grounds for these players, some are auditioning for jobs with the Jets next year, while others may be playing for a wider audience, any NHL team that may be looking for an upgrade.
Health: Many Jets players who have been playing through pain and suffering injuries over the past few weeks will get the night off, a chance to rest and heal up before the even tougher playoff grind starts. The Jets do not have a full team of reserves however and there will be many everyday players still in the lineup. The Jets need to manage minutes and get out of this game as healthy and safe as possible. Winnipeg cannot afford to lose anybody to injury at this time of year.
Scoreboard Watching: For the first time in months, the Jets can breathe. They will be playing post season games and nothing that happens Saturday can change that. Though all eight playoff spots in the West are spoken for, the seedings are not all determined. One thing for sure, Winnipeg will finish eighth, and play the number one team from the conference. That will either be the Anaheim Ducks, or the St. Louis Blues. Currently tied in the standings, the Ducks hold the tie breaker. Both teams play Saturday, the Blues face the Wild while Anaheim is in Arizona.
Michael Hutchinson (20-10-5) GAA: 2.43 SV% .913
Jonas Hiller (26-19-4) GAA: 2.36 SV% .918
Clitsome, WPG, (Back) out for season
Postma, WPG, (LBI) day-to-day
Bouma, CGY, (UBI) day-to-day
Ramo, CGY, (Leg) day-to-day
Diaz, CGY, (Undisclosed) day-to-day
Byron, CGY, (LBI) day-to-day
Giordano, CGY, (Torn bicep) out
Smid, CGY, (Neck) out
Flames take meaningless game in Winnipeg, but the party is just getting started for the Jets and their fans
Flames 4 Jets 2
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