JETBLAST: NEW YORK RANGERS @ WINNIPEG

JETBLAST

New York Rangers (47-21-7)  at Winnipeg Jets (39-25-12) 7:00 p.m., MTS Centre,
TV: TSN3 Radio: TSN 1290
Six games remain in the NHL schedule for most teams, and the playoffs are far from figured out. Two teams in very different positions match up Tuesday night at the MTS Centre when the New York Rangers visit the Winnipeg Jets. The Rangers sit atop the Metropolitan division, and will most likely find themselves on top of the league standings after games in hand are made up, and they are one of the few teams in the league who has guaranteed their trip to the post season. The Jets on the other hand have gone from looking like sure bets, to looking like long shots on a seemingly game by game basis. In their first match up Winnipeg won 1-0 in a shootout, now gone Evander Kane got the winner while Ondrej Pavelec made nearly 40 saves for the shut out. The Jets need this win incredibly badly, but an enormous foe is in their way, Jets and Rangers, LetsGo!

Rangers

The New York Rangers may be the best team in the Eastern Conference, and they will be the favourites in the East come playoff time. Impressively they did a large portion of their winning without their best player, goaltender Henrik Lundqvist. Lundqvist, who missed about a month after being struck in the neck with a puck, is now back and looks to be making his second straight start against Winnipeg on Tuesday. The Rangers have struggled in their last couple, losing 2 straight and allowing 9 goals in those two games. Off nights, or just taking it a little bit easier since locking up a playoff spot? We won’t ever know but you can be sure the Rangers do not want that to continue, and there are enough veterans on this team that they will know what needs to be done for a successful playoff run.

Jets

Just when Jets fans think it could not get any worse, they suffer another painful, painful loss. Chicago’s final minute goal by captain Jonathan Toews was a dagger into the hearts of Jets fans, and now the playoffs once again are a due or die dream that is affected every time the Jets take the ice. This game will be remembered if the Jets cannot make the playoffs right up there with a couple other devastating finishes this season, like St. Louis’ centre ice goal a couple weeks ago, and San Jose scoring with just seconds left. The Jets have suffered some horrible losses this season and come the end of the year they may be looking back at missed opportunities, for now though, the Jets try to look past their last game and are focused on the New York Rangers. For the second game in a row, the Jets get some good news on the injury front and get some reinforcements. Bryan Little will return after missing eleven games with an undisclosed injury. Little was arguably the biggest loss for this team, he brings so much on a night by night basis, offense, defense, special teams, Little can do it all. He will most likely go back to his spot on the first line, Lowry should jump down, and the Jets will, for the first time, ice what is probably their best four forward lines. They will need all of them if they want to keep pace in the Western Conference.

Keys to the Game

Put it Behind you: The Winnipeg Jets suffered what could be a season defining loss against the Chicago Blackhawks on Sunday. A finish like that could easily get in a teams head and mark the end of the year but the Jets will try to focus ahead, and forget the past. When the Jets have faced adversity this season they have been at their best, so there is no reason to think Winnipeg cannot do it again tonight.

Top Quality Opponent: It seems for the last month, every time the Jets have needed a win, we have talked about how they are facing one of the best teams in the league, and this has brought out the best in the Jets every night. Winnipeg has risen to the occasion on most every night. They will need to do it again tonight as they face a great opponent, rise to the occasion or you are done, get the job done.

Scoreboard Watching: After losing ground Sunday night, the Jets got a little bit of help Monday. Calgary managed to win, pulling 1 point ahead of Winnipeg with one more game played. LA on the other hand was not able to beat Chicago thus sit 1 point back of Winnipeg. Minnesota is back in the first wild card spot, but are 5 points up on Winnipeg and it is likely that their ticket is punched at this point. The Jets are flying pretty much solo tonight as none of this teams are in action.

Starting Goalies

Ondrej Pavelec (25-12-3) GAA: 2.39 SV% .917
Henrik Lundqvist (30-17-5) GAA: 2.29 SV% .921

Injuries

Clitsome, WPG, (Back) out for season
Little, WPG, (Undisclosed) day-to-day
Chiarot, WPG, (Broken Hand) out
Postma, WPG, (LBI) day-to-day

Hunwick, NYR, (UBI) day-to-day
St. Louis, NYR, (Knee) day-to-day
Klein, NYR, (Arm) out

Last 10 (W-L-OTL)

Jets: 6-4-0
Rangers: 6-4-0

Prediction

Jets fall behind in the race, lose to Rangers on home ice.
Rangers 3 Jets 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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