JETBLAST: MINNESOTA @ WINNIPEG

JETBLAST

Minnesota Wild (26-20-6) at Winnipeg Jets (27-18-10) 7:00 p.m., MTS Centre,
TV: TSN3 Radio: TSN 1290
The Jets and Wild meet for the 4th time this season Tuesday night when what has become quite a rivalry will continue. Besides the proximity of these two teams, and the amount their fans travel to see them play, the main reason for the rivalry has been how close the games are. Each of the three games played this season have been decided by one goal, with two of them headed to overtime. The Wild do hold the upper hand at this point, earning 5 of a possible 6 points. The Wild won the first game in overtime after a wild 3 goal third period comeback for the Jets, the second game was also decided in overtime, a fluke goal off the end glass by Andrew Ladd gave the Jets those two points. The Wild took the third meeting, the only one in Winnipeg by a 3-2 score at the end of December. Jets and Wild renew an old rivalry Tuesday night, Lets Go!

Wild

The hottest team in the NHL, since trading for Devon Dubnyk around Christmas, the Minnesota Wild, who seemed totally out of the playoff chase, are now right in the thick of it, and with games in hand are sitting in a very favorable position. The Wild have won 8 of their last 10, earning 17 of a possible 20 points in that span. What has changed in Minnesota, is it just the goalie? Unlikely, though Dubnyk has given them a steady influence on the back end the whole team has somehow picked up their play. The Wild stomped the Canucks last night, dominating the team that now sits directly above them 5-3. Now just 24hrs later, the Wild will take on the other team who sits in a playoff spot. Dubnyk started last night, but the feeling is he may start his second straight game in Winnipeg. It is always a gamble to start a goalie two nights in a row, but with the way the Wild goalie is playing, why not take the chance.

Jets

For the second game in a row the Winnipeg Jets will get a shot at a team playing the second half of a back to back. The Wild played last night in Minnesota against Vancouver and then hopped on a plane to come up for tonight’s huge divisional match up in Winnipeg. The Jets broke a huge losing streak with a pretty dominating win over the Colorado Avalanche. The Jets exploded for 4 second period goals and added an absolute master piece as a fifth and the Jets won 5-3. After a 6 game losing streak the Jets immediately have points in 3 straight, it sounds better than it is however, it is something to build on. The Jets find themselves in an odd position in the standings, ahead of the race, but with far more games played. Winnipeg cannot not afford losses to give teams free games, if they lose they will find themselves looking up at these teams instead of looking down. Adam Lowry draws back in tonight for Winnipeg after missing last game with the flu; Michael Hutchinson will get the start for the Jets, his 3rd of the last 4 as he will try to break a bit of a personal losing streak.

Keys to the Game

Take Advantage: The Wild are playing their second game in as many nights. The Jets were able to do the job against Colorado on the second half of the Avs back to back, and this game is even bigger. The Jets need to take the Wild down, or they my find themselves behind them in the standings. Though currently ahead, the Wild have games in hand, and as one of the hottest teams, the Wild could easily win those games and find themselves back in the playoff picture.

Physicality: The Winnipeg Jets are one of the most physical teams in the NHL, add the already tough play to the huge rivalry between these teams and you may be looking at a very tough game. However, the Wild played last night, and most likely didn’t get into town before 1 a.m. last night. The Jets need to use this to their advantage and tired the Wild out early.

All the Marbles: The Jets will play once more against the Wild this season, and the way these games have gone, this could be the difference between playoffs and golf, for both of these teams. So far the Wild have the upper hand at 2-0-1 in this season series, but if the Jets can win the next two, they may be able to gain the advantage and play some extra hockey this season.

Starting Goalies

Michael Hutchinson (14-7-3) GAA: 2.23 SV% .923
Devon Dubnyk (17-6-2) GAA: 2.29 SV% .923

Injuries

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

Carter, MIN, (UBI) out
Zucker, MIN, (UBI) out
Cooke, MIN, (LBI) out
Ballard, MIN, (Concussion) out

Last 10 (W-L-OTL)

Jets: 4-4-2
Wild: 8-1-1

Prediction

Jets beat a tired Wild squad, top line dominates for Winnipeg
Jets 4 Wild 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!