JETBLAST: DALLAS @ WINNIPEG

JETBLAST

Dallas Stars (27-24-9) at Winnipeg Jets (30-20-11) 7:00 p.m., MTS Centre,
TV: TSN3 Radio: TSN 1290
After a rather devastating two game road trip for the Winnipeg Jets they return home for what could be a season defining four game home stand. The Jets grasp on a playoff hold, which at times as seemed unbreakable, is now just holding on by a finger or two, the rear view mirror has become crowded and the Jets need to start winning if they want to pull away instead of being passed. The Stars are in a pretty similar do or die position, sitting as one of those teams on the outside looking in, their chances are slim, but with around 20 games left, the Stars can still make some noise if they get hot. The Jets have taken two of 3 against the Stars this season, winning both on the road, while the Stars smashed Winnipeg in their only meeting at the MTS Centre. An enormous Central division match up goes tonight at the MTS Centre, Jets and Stars, Lets Go!

Stars

The Dallas Stars have had such an up and down kind of year. After starting so terribly and falling so far behind, the Stars regrouped, and went on a long run collecting wins and points that had them right back in the thick of the race. Now, the Stars have cooled off a bit and are falling behind once more. At 6 points behind the Minnesota Wild for the second playoff spot and 8 behind the Winnipeg Jets the Stars are seeing their chances shrink every day. They have lost their last 3 games, including a 6-2 loss in Minnesota on Sunday. Dallas took a 1-0 lead into the third before just completely collapsing in the final period, giving up 6 goals and falling even further behind. The Stars need this win to realistically stay in the race. With two other teams ahead of them before the playoff spots, falling 10 points behind Winnipeg may be the final blow to this Stars team that has struggled to be part of the discussion all season. With the offensive skill on this team however, you can never count out this team, Tyler Seguin is still among the league leaders in goals and playing beside Jason Spezza has made them both very dangerous players every time their skates touch the ice. Seguin has missed the last 5 games to injury and his status coming into tonight is unclear.

Jets

After Saturdays 4-3 loss to Toronto, Jets fans were feeling just about as low as they have at any other time this season. When you are in the middle of a huge playoff race, losing to one of the worst teams in the NHL is just unacceptable, however the Jets made the Leafs look like contenders, and gave up the overtime goal midway through the extra frame to head home with only one point on their two game road trip. It was a costly point for Winnipeg who looks around them in the standings and doesn’t see many L’s. Between Calgary, Minnesota, L.A., Chicago and everyone else in the running, everyone seems hot, except the Jets. While everyone is winning and racking up the points lately the Jets are tanking, and will soon find themselves below the yellow playoff line, fighting to get back in. The Jets were dealt another crushing blow during their days off as the injury bug bit again. Ben Chariot had surgery on his hand and looks to be out for the regular season. Blake Wheeler also suffered an undisclosed injury and has not practices since Saturdays game, he is unlikely to play tonight against the Stars. The Jets have four home games in a row right now, besides the Stars they also see the Kings, Senators, and Blues. The Jets need to win at least 2 or 3, they can’t take many more losses, especially at home.

Keys to the Game

No Excuses: The Jets cannot afford to have losses at this time in the season, whatever the excuses are they must be put aside. You cannot throw this season away because a few guys have gone down to injury. Sure Mathieu Perreault was a big piece for Winnipeg but just because he is out you cannot pack it in and blame it on a couple unfortunate plays. Now it appears Blake Wheeler will be out as well. So what, it is a loss but the Jets need to pull together and figure out how to win without a few of their big guys in the lineup.

4 Lines: It is a long season, and the way this Winnipeg team plays puts a lot of physical stress on the players, there is undoubtedly going to be a little fatigue in the room. The best way to counter act this fatigue is for coach Paul Maurice to be able to roll all 4 of his forward lines. Cutting down the bench at this point of the season is just not feasible, so it will fall on your bottom six forwards to be at the top of their game and put the coach in the position to put them on the ice.

Michael Hutchinson: The Jets need more from their goaltenders plain and simple. Hutchinson will start tonight in Winnipeg and he needs a strong game. It has been a rough patch for the young goaltender who has seen his numbers balloon since the All Star break. The Jets need a strong performance especially against such a offensively gifted team like the Dallas Stars. Hutch is the key tonight, if he doesn’t play exceptionally, the Jets will not win.

Starting Goalies

Michael Hutchinson (17-7-4) GAA: 2.36 SV% .918
Kari Lehtonen (25-13-9) GAA: 2.96 SV% .906

Injuries

Clitsome, WPG, (Back) out for season
Halischuk, WPG, (Undisclosed) out
Perreault, WPG, (LBI) out
Wheeler, WPG, (Undisclosed) out

Moen, DAL, (UBI) out
Eaves, DAL, (Concussion) out
Seguin, DAL, (LBI) day-to-day
Nichuskin, DAL, (Groin) out

Last 10 (W-L-OTL)

Jets: 4-3-3
Stars: 4-5-1

Prediction

Back and fourth game, Jets eek out two points
Jets 3 Stars 2

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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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