JETBLAST: MINNESOTA @ WINNIPEG

JETBLAST

Minnesota Wild (16-13-4)  at  Winnipeg Jets (19-10-7) 6:00 p.m., MTS Center,
TV: TSN3 Radio: TSN 1290
For the second time in 3 nights the Winnipeg Jets and Minnesota Wild will clash, and for the first time this season it will take place in Winnipeg. Jets fans, the ones who haven’t traveled anyway, will get their first look this season at what is becoming a great rivalry for the two teams. Winnipeg added another chapter to the story Saturday night when for the second straight game these two teams went to overtime. The Jets managed to even the season series on a very fortunate bounce. Two and a half minutes into overtime Andrew Ladd snapped a wrist shot over the net, the puck struck the glass, bounced back towards the net, rebounding off the top before hitting Curry, the Wild goaltender, in the head and rolling across the goal line. It was not a game to look back on for Winnipeg but 2 points, especially in this division can make all the difference. These two rivals face off once more Monday night for what is sure to be a dandy, Jets and Wild, Lets Go!

Wild

The Minnesota Wild really did deserve better Saturday night when these teams faced off on their home ice. The Wild carried the play for the bulk of the game and if not for some just plain missed chances they could have been up another goal or two. Instead however the Jets capitalized on their few chances and the Wild allow the game go to extra time, where they were shocked by a few unfortunate bounces. That makes 5 straight losses for the team from Minnesota (2-3-0) and now they must try to bounce back if they want to salvage a split in this series. It will become harder with the loss of Mikael Granlund and Jonas Brodin to injury in Saturdays game, this is a big loss for this team. The Wild will need to put Saturdays game in their past, they cannot focus on the missed chances, or the unfortunate loss, instead focus on the fact that they dominated the Jets for most of the game and there is no reason that they cannot do that again. The Wild will look to gain some ground on the team they need to catch if they want to make the playoffs, the Wild have had the skill all season to be a better team, but they just have not been able to put it all together.

Jets

Bad teams win the games they should. Good teams win the games they should but, they also steal games that they may have no business winning and that is just what the Jets did Saturday night in Minnesota. The Jets were dominated for a lot of the game but stuck with the Wild and kept the game close. They capitalized on the few chances they had and sent the game to overtime, this gave the Jets a chance and with one more bounce they earned a huge 2 points on a close division rival. During the game the Jets were once again bitten by the injury bug as Evander Kane appeared to block a shot in the third. He finished the game but is now expected to be out until February. This is just one more hit for the Jets who have been playing for weeks without their top 4 defenseman. The Jets have called up Patrice Cormier to fill a spot on the roster while Chirs Thorburn seems to be the one who will take Evender Kanes spot on a line with Adam Lowry and Matt Halischuk.

Keys to the Game

The Starter: On January 10th last year Michael Hutchinson played a game in Alaska that seemed like all the others he had played that season, however it ended up being his last in the ECHL, he quickly moved onto the AHL and by the end of the season made his NHL debut. It has been a meteoric rise for the young goaltender and now it appears he is the starter for the Winnipeg Jets. Now he must continue to prove that he is the right man for this job and continue to help carry the Jets to victories.

Dustin Byfuglien: The Jets did have one saving grace when they’re defenseman kept going down with injury and that was the luxury of having a world class defender who just happened to be playing forward on their third line. Byfuglien had been criticized in the past for some decision making problems but since he has been leaned on as a number one he has responded, and the Jets are getting consistent and great play from their top defender. This needs to continue at least until the Jets get some pieces back if they want to keep winning.

This is a Huge Chance: The Winnipeg Jets stole two points on the road, and now have the chance to take 3 of 4 from the Minnesota Wild. Up 9 points on the Wild with 3 more games played is a strong lead, but 11 may be insurmountable. This will be a huge game for both teams and whoever gets the win will give themselves a huge boost in the playoff push.

Starting Goalies

Michael Hutchinson (9-2-2) GAA: 1.77 SV% .939
Darcy Kuemper (11-10-0) GAA: 2.64 SV% .901

Injuries

Enstrom, WPG, (LBI) out
Trouba, WPG, (Undisclosed) out
Bogosian, WPG, (LBI) out
Stuart, WPG, (LBI) out
Kane, WPG, (LBI) out

Zucker, MIN, (Illness) day-to-day
Ballard, MIN, (Facial lacerations) out
Granlund, MIN, (UBI) out
Brodin, MIN, (UBI) out
Backstrom, MIN, (Illness) out

Last 10 (W-L-OTL)

Jets: 6-1-3
Wild: 3-4-3

Prediction

I said it once, I’ll say it again, Jets sweep the Wild
Jets 4 Wild 1

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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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