JETBLAST: ST. LOUIS @ WINNIPEG

JETBLAST

St. Louis Blues (31-18-9) at Winnipeg Jets (31-20-11) 7:00 p.m., MTS Centre,
TV: TSN3 Radio: TSN 1290
For only the second time this season the St. Louis Blues and the Winnipeg Jets will meet up. The Blues won the first meeting 4-2 when hometown boy Ryan Reaves scored midway through the third period, a goal that ended up being the winner. Counting tonight, the Blues and Jets match up 4 times in the last twenty or so games, this could be a series that can make or break the Winnipeg Jets. The Blues have their playoff spot pretty much locked up, but the Jets are still in a dog fight, and this series could make all the difference. Jets and Blues, tonight, Lets Go!

Blues

The St. Louis Blues are one of the most well rounded teams in the entire NHL. Though they are void of a true superstar, they have 6 players with 40 points or more. The team is dangerous from top to bottom and can really throw a wrench into defenses plans. There is no real possibility to line match or shadow one guy because if you commit to much to one, it will just be another who burns you. If there was a time to play the Blues however it is now, St. Louis is 1-3 in their last 4 and are .500 in their last 10. They are also entering a stretch of tough road games. Eleven of the next 14 will be played away from home for the Blues, this is a stretch that could really hurt them. Though they have a healthy lead on the non playoff teams, they are only two up on the Chicago Blackhawks for 2nd in the division, a place that will decide who gets home ice advantage in the likely playoff match up.

Jets

Coming into Tuesdays game with the Dallas Stars, the mood around the Winnipeg Jets could not have been much lower, what a difference a couple days can make though. Starting with the win against the Stars, combined with losses from both the Calgary Flames and Minnesota Wild the Jets found their grip on a playoff spot tighten a little bit. Then, on Wednesday the Jets made a move to shore up some weaknesses when they acquired Jiri Tlusty in a trade with the Carolina Hurricanes. The mood has sure changed and now optimism surrounds this team. Though Blake Wheeler will miss his second straight game with an undisclosed injury, they now have Tlusty to fill a spot on the second line, and if Wheeler and Perreault can return at some point, this team may have 4 legitimate threatening lines. If the Jets can hold on until then and keep themselves in a good playoff position, they will be a very dangerous team.

Keys to the Game

Penalty Kill: There is only so many times we can discuss the Jets penalties, and their penalty kill. However, that is such an important part of the game, especially at this time of year when the defense seems to be ratcheted up, it is also hard to ignore. The St. Louis blues powerplay is operating at over 23%, so if the Jets give them chances, looks like it will end up in the back of their net. Cut out the bad penalties or you will lose this game.

Team Defense: The St. Louis Blues have one of the most balanced attacks in the entire league, shown off last time they were in this city and 4th liner Ryan Reaves scored the winning goal. The Blues have legitimate scoring threats on every one of their lines and if your team is not playing a complete team defensive game every time they are on the ice, the scoring threats will bury you. If the Jets fall behind to this high powered offense there is no coming back. Play smart, no turnovers, no odd man rushes and you might give yourself a chance to win.

Keep it Going: The Winnipeg Jets have won their last 4 home games, and with their next 3 at home, the Winnipeg Jets have a huge opportunity to really take a stanglehold on one of the Wildcard playoff spots in the West. Home ice advantage becomes far more important at this time of year, crowds are pumped up just that much more and the games are so much more important. Getting wins at home is huge, and stringing them together may be the difference between playing Hockey and Golf come April.

Starting Goalies

Michael Hutchinson (16-7-4) GAA: 2.35 SV% .918
Brian Elliot (18-9-2) GAA: 2.26 SV% .919

Injuries

Clitsome, WPG, (Back) out for season
Halischuk, WPG, (Undisclosed) out
Perreault, WPG, (LBI) out
Wheeler, WPG, (Undisclosed) out
Chiarot, WPG, (Broken Hand) out

Shattenkirk, STL, (Abdominal injury) out

Last 10 (W-L-OTL)

Jets: 5-3-2
Blues: 5-5-0

Prediction

Jets struggles with Blues continue, Blues take the win
Blues 4 Jets 1

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!