JETBLAST: VANCOUVER @ WINNIPEG

JETBLAST

Vancouver Canucks (45-28-5)  at Winnipeg Jets (39-26-12) 2:00 p.m., MTS Centre,
TV: TSN3 Radio: TSN 1290
Time is running out in the NHL season and when the Jets wake up Saturday morning they will find themselves on the outside of the playoff picture looking in. This due to two straight losses, while everyone around them continues to pick up points on what feels like a nightly basis. Included in those teams unable to lose are the Vancouver Canucks, who visit Winnipeg Saturday afternoon. The Canucks, who were right in the middle of the race a week ago, have now pulled ahead and, with 95 points, will be assured a playoff spot barring any major collapse down the stretch. The Canucks won the last meeting just over a week ago in dominating fashion, beating the Jets 5-2 and being in command all night. Vancouver also won the first meeting between the teams 3-2 in a shootout, the Jets will try and break that trend Saturday afternoon at the MTS Centre, Lets Go!

Canucks

The Vancouver Canucks have gone on a bit of a run since beating the Winnipeg Jets just over a week ago. At that point the Jets were a game away from catching them and the Canucks were close to losing their spot in the Pacific. Now, after a few wins and some help, the spot the Canucks have in the Pacific is all but locked up, and Vancouver looks like they could be a contender the way they have been playing. In the last game these two teams met Radim Vrbata was the best player on the ice. Making him even more dangerous, is the fact he is playing with the Sedin brothers. Between the three of them, the Canucks have the ability to put a line on the ice to take over the game. For another year the Canucks head to the playoffs and they will try to go in on a run.

Jets

Two games in a row the Jets have lost games within the final few minutes. These losses, as well as devastating, are proving to be incredibly costly. The Jets are sitting outside of a playoff spot, but with a win tonight would be right back in a great position. Winnipeg holds their fate in their own hands, get more wins than Calgary or LA and the Jets will be in the playoffs, there is no other way. They cannot count on getting help either, the Flames and Kings have been nearly unbeatable, so Winnipeg needs to do the job themselves. Winnipeg will now have another obstacle in the way as Dustin Byfuglien will be suspended the next four games. This is the first time Byfuglien has been suspended, which makes four games seem very harsh. However, the play in question, a cross check to a downed JT Miller, was a vicious, dirty play. Was four too many, maybe, but with the action comes a reaction, and the Jets will need to deal with the loss of one of their best players.

Keys to the Game

Overcome the losses: All season the Jets have had trouble icing a full lineup. Injuries have hurt the Jets and it seems they have not been able to keep everyone together. In fact, Thursday was the first time that particular lineup had suited up together all season and it will be short lived. Dustin Byfuglien earned himself a 4 game suspension with his vicious cross check on J.T. Miller, making him ineligible until the final game of the season against Calgary. The Jets have done a good job of overcoming these adversities all season and will need to do it for four more games if they want to make Byfuglien’s return a game that matters.

Race to the Finish: The Jets have 5 games remaining. The Flames have 4 while the Kings also have 5. The Jets are in control of their own destiny, if they win out they have a playoff spot, if not they will need some help. All these teams have the ability to win 4 or 5 straight and the team that can come the closest to doing it will make it, the team that cannot get it together will find themselves on the outside looking in.

Scoreboard Watching: Losing two in a row in the Western Conference is a pretty good way to run yourselves right out of the playoffs. The Winnipeg Jets did just that, but still find themselves in the thick of the playoff race, and with their destiny firmly in their own hands. The Jets are 1 point behind Calgary with a game in hand and tied with LA. The race is really between those three teams right now. Saturday night Calgary visits Edmonton while the Kings host the Avalanche in California.

Starting Goalies

Ondrej Pavelec (19-16-7) GAA: 2.41 SV% .916
Eddie Lack (16-12-4) GAA: 2.49 SV% .919

Injuries

Clitsome, WPG, (Back) out for season
Little, WPG, (Undisclosed) day-to-day
Chiarot, WPG, (Broken Hand) out
Postma, WPG, (LBI) day-to-day
Byfuglien, WPG, (Suspension) Serving game 1 of 4

Richardson, VAN, (Ankle) day-to-day
Kassian, VAN, (Back) day-to-day
Miller, VAN, (Sprained knee) out

Last 10 (W-L-OTL)

Jets: 6-4-0
Canucks: 6-3-1

Prediction

Jets overcome the loss of Byfuglien, huge win to close out the road trip.
Jets 4 Canucks 2

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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