JETBLAST: SAN JOSE @ WINNIPEG

JETBLAST

San Jose Sharks (20-14-5)  at  Winnipeg Jets (20-12-7) 7:00 p.m., MTS Center,
TV: TSN3 Radio: TSN 1290
The Winnipeg Jets finish a 4 game home stand at home tonight against the San Jose Sharks. They will look to even up their record at 2-2 before they head out on the road for a very difficult road trip. The first meeting between these two teams was during the Jets first road trip of the season, and was a 3-0 dominating win for the Sharks. The Jets are a completely different team these days though and will look to prove it with the two remaining games this season. Looking at the standings this game gets very important as the teams sit in the two wild card spots right now, with Winnipeg just 2 points ahead. They are both playoff spots but their is a big difference in how you feel in 7th or 8th. The Jets will look to extend their lead on the 7th spot and they will do it on the center stage of the NHL tonight. This is the only game happening in the league so all eyes will be on Winnipeg when the Jets and Sharks clash, Lets Go!

Sharks

The San Jose Sharks are in a dog fight in a very tight Pacific division. They currently sit in 4th which has them in 8th in the Western Conference, but that is only two points behind LA and Vancouver, so a win tonight would be very valuable and could see them jump into second in the division. The Sharks are starting a three game Central division road trip with the game tonight, but got their start a couple nights ago when the St. Louis Blues came into San Jose and stomped them 7-2. The Sharks hope they can raise their play  or they may be in huge trouble for this trip. Their are no easy games in the Central and the Sharks will learn that very quickly if they don’t play well. Nothing changes for the Sharks over the years as they seem to have no sense of age. They are once again led by Joe Pavelski and Joe Thornton, both have 33 points which lead the team. The Sharks have a stretch here that could make or break them and they will look to start the road trip off right in Winnipeg Monday night.

Jets

The Jets got a game they desperately needed when the Toronto Maple Leafs came to town. A five goal explosion gave the Jets a dominating win and a bit of breathing room in the standings. They now look ahead at 4 straight against the Pacific division, and outside of the Arizona Coyotes, no game is easy in that division. It also got harder once again as the Jets look to have lost another defenseman. They will be without Grant Clitsome after an injury during the Leafs game, he is listed as day-to-day but coach Paul Maurice says it is more likely a week to week thing. That means Julien Brouilette draws into the lineup most likely and Keaton Ellerby has also gotten the call up to the big club. With even more bad news on the injury front the Jets will be happy to see that good news may finally be on the horizon. Zach Bogosian skated with his team for the first time since his injury, and Maurice says he may return during the road trip. The Jets would love to have some players back from the IR but until then they will keep doing what they are doing and try to grab some W’s shorthanded.

Keys to the Game

Another D man down: The Jets have now lost 5 defenseman that were on the roster on opening night. They have seen a slight dip in their play but for the most part they have held on and locked down their position. With another man out though the Jets must once again look to some young inexperienced Dmen to keep this team afloat. The Jets do look to have caught a little bit of luck as the Sharks look to be without Joe Thornton and that will take a big load off of Winnipeg

Stay out of the Box!: The Jets are the most penalized team in the league and it has begun to catch up with them. Winnipeg cannot afford to give teams goals or extra chances at goals or they will lose. The sharks have a pretty strong powerplay so extra chances will not be good.

Team Canada: I cannot go 900 words without at least mentioning the World Junior Hockey Championship. Though the Jets don’t have to share the stage among other teams in the NHL you can be sure the nation will also have their eyes on the showdown between Team Canada and Russia in the gold medal game. Don’t click away from the Jets but if you want to check scores during commercial breaks and intermissions no on can blame you.

Starting Goalies

Michael Hutchinson (10-3-2) GAA: 1.81 SV% .937
Antti Niemi (15-9-4) GAA: 2.53 SV% .914

Injuries

Enstrom, WPG, (LBI) out
Trouba, WPG, (Undisclosed) out
Bogosian, WPG, (LBI) out
Stuart, WPG, (LBI) out
Kane, WPG, (LBI) out
Clitsome, WPG, (Undisclosed) out

Thornton, SJ, (UBI) out
Brown, SJ, (LBI) out
Kennedy, SJ, (UBI) out
Torres, SJ, (Knee) out

Last 10 (W-L-OTL)

Jets: 5-3-2
Sharks: 6-3-1

Prediction

Jets make it two straight and widen their grip on 7th
Jets 3 Sharks 2

Bonus Prediction, Canada takes gold tonight with a 4-1 win over Russia

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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!