JETBLAST: WINNIPEG @ MINNESOTA

JETBLAST

Winnipeg Jets (40-26-12)  at Minnesota Wild (44-26-8) 7:00 p.m., Excel Energy Center,
TV: TSN3 Radio: TSN 1290
The two teams that have occupied the two wild card spots in the West for most of the last couple months are two rivals close in proximity, and the two teams that will meet in Minnesota Monday night when the Wild host the Winnipeg Jets. Though they have fought it out for months, just a couple points ahead or behind of each other, the Wild have finally really locked it down, and with a regulation win tonight can clinch a playoff spot for the second straight season. The Jets on the other hand are sitting in a dangerous position, tied with the LA Kings in points, but behind on ROW (Regulation + Overtime Wins) find themselves on the outside looking in, with all paths seemingly leading to that game against the Calgary Flames on the final day of the NHL calendar. Jets and Wild, expect the rivalry to be heightened tonight, Lets Go!

Wild

The Minnesota Wild have been one of, if not the best NHL team since the All Star Break. Since acquiring Devon Dubnyk the Wild have changed from a team that was looking like one of the league’s biggest disappointments, to a team that no one wants to face in the first, or any round of the playoffs. Dubnyk will make his 37th straight start since being acquired, and after losing the last two straight, will try and turn it around. Since he was brought in, the Wild have not lost three straight games, and that is a main reason why they are in such a strong position in the playoff picture. The Wild can clinch with a win, and a single point will all but do the job as well. This bodes well for the Wild as they have earned at least a point in all 4 meetings with the Jets this season, winning one in regulation, one in overtime, and losing two in overtime.

Jets

The Winnipeg Jets earned an enormous two points by beating the Vancouver Canucks Sunday afternoon. It was in no sense a master piece, but getting the job done is what it is all about, and now the Jets have an opportunity to pull within two points of the Minnesota Wild for the first wild card spot, and more importantly keep pace with the Kings and Flames. The Jets may need to do this without Tobi Enstrom, who was hit into the boards during the Canucks game and went in awkwardly, he is now considered day-to-day. Whether out or in, the Jets are going to get a boost on their blue line with the addition of Ben Chariot. Coach Paul Maurice has said that he will go back to his role, playing major minutes and being a big contributor to the team. Another player who just recently returned and is expected to make a big difference is Bryan Little. So far, whether it be a little bit of rust, or a still lingering injury, Little has not been his full self since the return, and the Jets need all of him if they are going to make the playoffs.

Keys to the Game

Tough Series: The Jets and Wild could not really have played a closer series this season. Three of the four games have gone to overtime, and the teams have an even goal differential. This game, just like the whole series is bound to be close and tight checking. The Winnipeg Jets and Minnesota Wild both need points and at this point in the year those are hard to come by. This effort needs to be 100% from every player, or the Jets don’t have a chance.

Catch Fire: The Winnipeg Jets and Calgary Flames meet on the last day of the season, and it is almost certain at this point that that game will be the difference between the playoffs and the non playoff team. That is, unless the Jets can make some noise the next week and go on a bit of a winning streak. If the Jets can do the improbable and win 3 straight the next four days, they will make the last game mean nothing.

Scoreboard Watching: The Kings, Flames and of course Jets, and Wild are all in action tonight. The Wild will have a playoff spot no matter what, however, if any of the other teams lose there is potential, and in fact is likely that team will find themselves on the outside of the NHL playoff picture. The Flames take on the Coyotes while the Kings battle the Oilers.

Starting Goalies

Ondrej Pavelec (20-16-7) GAA: 2.44 SV% .915
Devon Dubnyk (35-12-4) GAA: 2.06 SV% .929

Injuries

Clitsome, WPG, (Back) out for season
Little, WPG, (Undisclosed) day-to-day
Postma, WPG, (LBI) day-to-day
Enstrom, WPG, (Undisclosed) day-to-day
Byfuglien, WPG, (Suspension) Serving game 2 of 4

Zucker, MIN, (Broken Collarbone) out
Cooke, MIN, (Hernia) out
Ballard, MIN, (Concussion) out

Last 10 (W-L-OTL)

Jets: 7-3-0
Wild: 7-2-1

Prediction

Jets get two badly needed point in a tight three point game
Jets 4 Wild 3

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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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