JETBLAST: FLORIDA @ WINNIPEG

JETBLAST

Florida Panthers (20-11-9) at Winnipeg Jets (21-14-8)  7:00 p.m., MTS Center,
TV: TSN3 Radio: TSN 1290
After a 3 game road trip on the West Coast, the Winnipeg Jets return home to face off against former Southern division rivals the Florida Panthers. These teams are having fairly similar years and are sitting in the same situations more or less. Winnipeg re-took the 7th seed in the West with 3 of 4 points in California while the Panthers are currently just a single out point out of a playoff spot with games in hand. These two teams are going in different directions recently, but things can turn very quickly in the NHL. The Panthers have won 3 straight, while the Jets have just one win in their last 4. The Jets look to get back on track while Florida looks to keep winning, and both look to work their way up their respective Conference standings. It will be Jets and Panthers Tuesday evening in Winnipeg, Lets Go!

Panthers

The Panthers have surprised many recently with some hot play. 6-3-1 in their last 10 including a sweep of the Western Canadian teams in their last 3 games, the Panthers are overcoming a very slow start and working their way back into the race and now find themselves in a very strong position. The biggest improvement in this Panther team from last season is in goal. Over the summer Roberto Luongo finally escaped Vancouver and got his wish to return to Florida where he spent many years near the start of his career. Luongo got what he wanted and Florida picked up one of the best goalies in the entire league. Luongo has held up his end of the bargain this year playing some great hockey and stealing games for this young Panther team when they need it. A strong goaltender is key to a team like this, the players know that they have someone they can rely on in the net and it makes it easier for the young guys to play their game. This team when playing well plays fast and a very up and down style, if they can force the Jets to play into a game like that they will have a very good chance to pick up another win.

Jets

In the secondary storyline of the night, the Winnipeg Jets once again gave up a multi goal lead and ended up losing to the Anaheim Ducks 5-4 in a shootout. It was the second night in a row the Jets have given up a big leads and it is becoming a very disturbing trend. The Jets are not the kind of team that can afford giving up leads. Scoring can be a struggle for this team so when they get ahead they need to be able to hold on and take the 2 points. Lost in Teemu Selanne and all the other stories this past weekend was the All Star game selection. For the second All Star showcase in a row Dustin Byfuglien will be the sole representative from the Winnipeg Jets. Though Jets fans will argue that they maybe should have had another representative or two, there is no one that is going to argue the selection of Byfuglien. Buff started the season on forward where he had some success, but never really found his stride. However, when the Jets top 4 defenseman went down to injury, Byfuglien stepped up and kept this team afloat. There is no argument the big defender has been the Jets best player on both ends of the ice for the past month and a half and it appears his play will keep him on D for the rest of the season. Good news for the Jets as he is a one of a kind talent, and at least this season it appears his talents are far better used on the back end.

Keys to the Game

500 is in Sight: Another story line that was missed Sunday evening was Paul Maurice coming oh so close to his 500 NHL victory. The head coach who made his name in Carolina where he won a Stanley cup has been a huge change for the Jets. The man will get to 500 it is just a question of when, but wouldn’t it be great if he could do it at home.

Power Play: The Jets power play has been terrible during the road trip, most concerning is there play with the two man advantage. They have gone near 15 minutes this season 5-3 and have yet to score, and it cost them dearly in Anaheim when they had an extended opportunity in the third period where they could have put the game away. Instead they hardly registered a chance, and the rest is history. Winnipeg needs to work through these struggles and start scoring.

60 Minutes: Two nights in a row the Jets have had multiple multi goal leads. Both night they seemed to stop playing

Starting Goalies

Michael Hutchinson (11-4-2) GAA: 2.00 SV% .930
Roberto Luongo (17-7-7) GAA: 2.23 SV% .927

Injuries

Trouba, WPG, (Undisclosed) out
Clitsome, WPG, (Back) out for season

Barkov, FLA, (Flu) day-to-day
Thornton, FLA, (Groin) out

Last 10 (W-L-OTL)

Jets: 4-4-2
Panthers: 6-3-1

Prediction

Jets get the two points for coach Paul Maurice
Ducks 4 Jets 3

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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