JETBLAST: COLORADO @ WINNIPEG

JETBLAST

Colorado Avalanche (22-20-11) at Winnipeg Jets (26-18-10) 5:00 p.m., MTS Centre,
TV: TSN3 Radio: TSN 1290
For the fourth of five times this season, the Winnipeg Jets and Colorado Avalanche will match up when they take the ice Sunday evening. The Jets have taken 5 of 6 points from the Avalanche this season, including all 4 of the possible points at home. All three match ups have been very exciting but for different reasons. In their first meeting the Jets were outplayed but earned a 2-1 overtime win on a Bryan Little goal. The second match up also focused on Bryan Little when he got the first hat trick in Jets 2.0 history, leading the Jets to a 6-2 win. The most recent match up was a back and fourth affair which the Avalanche won, 4-3 in a shootout. Games between these two teams have a tendency to go to extra time so don’t be surprised to see some free hockey. A big Central division match up Sunday night in Winnipeg, Lets Go!

Avalanche

The Colorado Avalanche spent most of the first half of the season disappointing fans, performing far under expectations and looking like they’d be closer to getting the first draft pick than they would be to the playoffs. Since the new year however the Avs have been one of the NHL’s hottest teams winning 8 of 15 games and earning 19 points in that stretch. That run of good hockey has Colorado right back into the race and only a few points out of a playoff spot. The Avalanche missed a big opportunity Saturday night, dropping a 1-0 hard fought game to another wild card contender, the Minnesota Wild. Coming in on a back to back against two teams whom they are competing with in a wild dash to the playoffs. Fatigue will be the biggest opposition to overcome however. The Jets are a very difficult team to play against with their size and speed, and just a few hours down the highway in Minnesota is no easier. The Avs will be looking to get back on the scoreboard, both in the standings and in this game after being shut out against the Wild. With the talents of Duchesne, Landeskog, Mckinnon, Iginla, Briere, O’Reilly….well you get the point, the Avs offense will not be stuck in a slump for long.

Jets

The Jets got a far more inspiring effort Friday night when they took on the Chicago Blackhawks and looked for much of the game like they would be able to earn their first W since the All Star Break. It was not to be however as after days of Evander Kane dominating the headline, Patrick Kane took his turn and notched the tying goal and an assist on the overtime winner. The Jets earned a point but it is not good enough in this race and it is now 6 games without a win. If there was ever a time to break out however it is Sunday night. With two straight games against teams that are directly behind them the Jets need some wins. with the Avs coming in on a back to back you need to take advantage and take the two points from a team that is sure to be tired and not all there. The Jets need all 4 lines to play like they did for much of the game against the Hawks, and they need to muster some more offense. Though the goals allowed have been the main story since the break, the number of goals going in on the other side of the ice has not been inspiring either. The Jets need to take advantage of a tired club and start picking up some wins.

Keys to the Game

Get to the Net: Semyon Varlamov will be starting his second game in as many nights for the Colorado Avalanche. Two in a row is a hard hill to climb for any player, but for a goalie it is even harder and far more rare. The Jets need to do all they can to put pucks to the net and force Varlamov to battle through traffic to find the puck, and control rebounds. The Jets will have success if they can get to the dirty areas and make Varly work for every save.

End a Streak/Start a Streak: 6 games without a win is far too many at this time of season. If the Jets cannot find a way to win games they will find themselves on the outside looking in and will miss the playoffs for another season. The Jets need to end the losing streak, and get the first win on what needs to be a streak in the other direction. end the losing, and string some W’s together.

Slump Busters: The Chicago Blackhawks came into Winnipeg not having scored in two games, however they were able to come in to Winnipeg, and though they didn’t generate much offense, they got enough to win. Now Colorado is here after being shut out and has a whole ton of offensive power that has the ability to break out against the Jets. Winnipeg needs to play tight D and not give the skilled players on Colorado any room. If they can do that the Jets will earn two enormous points in the playoff hunt.

Starting Goalies

Michael Hutchinson (14-7-3) GAA: 2.23 SV% .923
Semyon Varlamov (14-11-7) GAA: 2.55 SV% .924

Injuries

Clitsome, WPG, (Back) out for season
Halischuk, WPG, (Undisclosed) out
Kane, WPG, (Shoulder) out

Barrie, COL, (Hip) day-to-day
Johnson, COL, (Knee) out
Rendulic, COL, (Broken leg) out
Bordeleau, COL, (Fractured knee cap) out
McGinn, COL, (Back) out
Wilson, COL, (Shoulder) out
Winchester, COL, (Concussion) out

Last 10 (W-L-OTL)

Jets: 4-4-2
Avalanche: 4-3-3

Prediction

Jets sweep the Avs in the MTS Centre
Jets 3 Avalanche 2

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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!