JETBLAST: WINNIPEG @ ARIZONA

JETBLAST

Winnipeg Jets (0-0-0) at Arizona Coyotes (0-0-0) 9:00 p.m., Gila River Arena,TV: TSN3 Radio:TSN 1290

The Rosters are formed, lines are set, and the pucks are frozen, it is finally time for another NHL season! While opening day is set for Wednesday, the Winnipeg Jets and newly named Arizona Coyotes must wait an extra day before dropping the puck on their 2014/15 schedule. How appropriate it is that the two franchises that have called Manitoba home will open it up against one and other. Last season both of these teams missed the playoffs andwill be looking to bounce back, although they went about it in very different ways. New Jets, old Jets, Game 1 of the 2014/2015 season here we go again, Lets Go!

Coyotes

The Coyotes season ended very disappointing last season, finishing just two points out of a playoff spot when far more was expected. That was enough to start a total overhaul in Phoenix, including a name change of course. The Arizona Coyotes have a huge turnover, gone are the likes of Ribeiro, Vrbata, Derek Morris, and fan favorite Paul Bissonette, replaced by Sam Gagner, Joe Vitale, B.J. Crombeen, and a slew of young talent. These changes will make the Yotes a far tougher team to play for, more grit and hard nosed players opposed to guys who bring pure offensive talent. Captain Shane Doan returns for a 19th season. With the retirement of Teemu Selanne, the veteran of over 1300 NHL games becomes the last original Jet left in the NHL, and what a fitting way to start what may well be his last season.

Jets

The Jets are back and excitement is ramping up. With dinosaurs invading the MTS Centre however Jets fans are forced to enjoy their team on T.V. for a week before they will be able to see them live. Although suffering the same result as the Coyotes at the end of last season by missing the playoffs, the Jets went a different way in the offseason keeping most of their core the same. Counting on age and growth instead of change is a strategy that will be tested for Winnipeg. The top two Jet lines are pretty much the same, Ondrej Pavelec is back as the starting goaltender, and the blue line looks identical. Though the teams success will hinge on many of the same players, there are some changes in the Winnipeg lineup. Two youngsters are the most exciting additions, Michael Hutchinson takes the place of Al Montoya backing up Pavelec. Much is expected of the youngster as a starter eventually, but he must prove his worth as a back up first. The other new face the Jets are expecting to make a difference is Adam Lowry. Lowry earned his spot on this roster with one of the strongest training camps of any Jet and will be counted on for some size, speed, and grit. The same faces are looking for different results with the Jets this season, and the fans are ready for more as well.

Keys to the Game

Ondrej Pavelec: The most talked about facet of the Jets all offseason was goaltending and don’t expect that to stop. Pavelec needs to bounce back and do it quick. With Hutchinson and the newly acquired Peter Budaj waiting in the winds you get the sense the leash on Pavelec may be far shorter this season. The test starts game 1.

Mike Smith: Much the same as in Winnipeg, the Coyotes season will go dictated by the play of their goaltender. Smith took a step back last season and will look to regain the form that got his team to the Western Final just a couple years ago.

The Stars: Byfuglien: Defense or Offense, 1st line or 3rd line, the big American has been water cooler talk all summer, him buying into the role coach Paul Maurice gives him, whatever it is, will be huge to the Jets success. Aside from Byfuglien Evander Kane is also badly in need of a good season. The guy needs to pick up his play and earn the dollars he is being paid. Trade talks have surrounded him for over a year now but if he develops some chemistry with his new linemates, focuses on hockey, and scores some goals, that talk will disappear really fast.

Starting Goalies

Ondrej Pavelec (0-0-0) GAA: 0.00 SV% .000
Mike Smith (0-0-0) GAA: 0.00 SV% .000

Injuries

O’Dell, WPG, (upper body injury) out
Cormier, WPG, (Eye) out

Perlini, ARI, (broken right hand) out

Last 10 (W-L-OTL)

Jets: 0-0-0
Coyotes: 0-0-0

Prediction

Jets start the year strong, Scheifele Kane and Wheeler dominate.
Jets 4 Coyotes 3

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!