JETBLAST: WINNIPE @ COLUMBUS

JETBLAST

Winnipeg Jets (10-9-3) at  Columbus Blue Jackets (6-12-2) 3:30 p.m., Nationwide Arena, TV: TSN3  Radio:TSN 1290

The Winnipeg Jets missed an opportunity Sunday afternoon in Winnipeg letting 2 leads slip away and dropping a 4-2 decision to the Central division leading St. Louis Blues. It was a hard fought game for Winnipeg who stayed with the top team but just could not manage to get those 2 points. Now, Winnipeg shifts to 3 games in 4 nights on the road so the tests do not get much easier. It all starts tonight when they are hosted in Ohio by the Columbus Blue Jackets. They then move on to the Buffalo Sabres tomorrows, the two teams combined only have 12 wins, and their point totals put together would have them missing the playoffs in the West. Winnipeg needs to win both these games. A split will not be good enough, and there will be no back-to-back fatigue excuses, 4 points is needed. Starts tonight, Jets, Blue Jackets, Lets Go!

Blue Jackets

The Columbus Blue Jackets may be considered one of the biggest disappointments in the league this season. After making the playoffs and putting a huge scare into the Penguins last season, it now all seems so far away, and a return journey to April already fading out of view. The biggest difference comes in the play of their number one goaltender. Last season Sergei Bobrovsky looked like one of the best in the world, and he was awarded as such with the Vezina trophy. This year though, everything has changed for Bobrovsky who has seen his numbers take a big hit, with his goals against swelling up to nearly 3 a game. The Jackets need better out of their goaltender if they want to win but in reality they need better all around. The Jackets are 23rd in goals for this season and dead last in goals against, showing that being this bad really is a team effort. This does not make them any less dangerous on any given night however, especially against a vulnerable Jets team, this is not a team you can take lightly just yet.

Jets

Another deflating home loss from the Jets have their fans back on the verge of calling for replacements and firings. If the ship is not steadied everything goes back to how it was during the first week or two, when no one was good enough and everyone had to be replaced. Just when it is needed though the Jets seem to get a break in their schedule facing two of the worst teams in the NHL. Sure it is on back to back nights, but this cannot be an excuse for a team that fancies themselves a playoff contender. With the possibility of two wins in two nights the JEts can picture themselves back into a playoff spot, now they just need to get that done. To do so the Jets have largely left the lineup unchanged, with the exception of their goaltender as Michael Hutchinson gets the call. the young goalie is leading the league in GAA and SV% though starting many fewer games. He seems to give the Jets a bit of a boost. The only other change comes to their healthy scratches as TJ Galliardi was placed on waivers early this morning. The Jets offseason pickup failed to record a point in limited action this season, often being scratched in favor of Matt Halischuk or Chris Thorburn.

Keys to the Game

Control Emotions: I said it last game and it did not work as the Jets were burned for two goals on the penalty kill and spent numerous other anxious minutes watching from the sin bin, including a 4 minute double minor with only 6 to go, severely cutting the Jets time to get an equalizer. Winnipeg cannot afford to give teams extra chances.

Somethings got to give: Worst offense against worst defense, someone has to come out on top. Winnipeg needs to get to the dirty areas and create some chances around Bobrovsky while the Jackets will try to keep the Jets to the outside and away from the net. This is the match up in which the game will be won and lost.

Use Hutch: Since a stumble in his first start of the season Michael Hutchinson has been nearly lights out for Winnipeg. The Jets have used his performances and gotten two points nearly every time. They must count on him again tonight and put forward a performance in front of him. The youngster has given you a chance to win in every outing, give him something in return tonight and make his job easy.

Starting Goalies

Michael Hutchinson (3-1-1) GAA: 1.38 SV% .948
Sergei Bobrovsky (5-6-1) GAA: 2.95 SV% .911

Injuries

Enstrom, WPG, (LBI) day-to-day

Tyutin, CBJ, (LBI) out
Goloubef, CBJ, (Knee) out
Murray, CBJ, (Knee) out
Letestu, CBJ, (Groin) out
Dubinsky, CBJ, (LBI) out
Horton, CBJ, (Back) out

Last 10 (W-L-OTL)

Jets: 4-4-2
Blue Jackets: 2-6-2

Prediction

Jets finally muster some offense, get back on track
Jets 4 Blue Jackets 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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