JETBLAST: ST. LOUIS @ WINNIPEG

JETBLAST

St. Louis Blues (13-6-1) at Winnipeg Jets (10-8-3) 3:30 p.m., MTS Centre, TV: TSN3  Radio:TSN 1290

After earning a 3-2 win Saturday afternoon the St. Louis Blues go in to Winnipeg for a date with their division rivals the Winnipeg Jets. Playing back to back is never easy, and with just under a 24 hour turnaround this may be just the advantage Winnipeg needs to take down the Central division leading Blues. Coming into this season this was one of the matchups that many Jets fans were looking forward to the most. That is at least in part due to the way their last match up last season went. On March 17th 2014 when the teams last met, a war was the best way to describe it. With the Blues already pretty much in the playoffs and the Jets on their very last chance, nobody expected the game would bubble over the way it did. In the third period of the Blues 3-1 win on that night, 112 penalty minutes were given out and their was hardly a whistle all period that a fight or at least scrum wasn’t going on after. Same old for the first place Blues but the Jets are a much different team and look to improve on the 1 win they earned over St. Louis last year. Jets and Blues, Lets Go!

Blues

The St. Louis Blues are very much the same team as they were last season, though after being knocked out of the playoffs they did realize that maybe the only thing they were missing was a real gamebreaker. Over the summer they felt they needed to get some outside help and looked at Paul Stasny, the free agent out of Colorado, to solve their problems. Little did they know however that their biggest improvement would come from the inside, and the development of Vladimir Tarasenko. Tarasenko made some noise as an offensive talent last season but consistency was still a foreign concept to the young player. This season seems different however as Tarasenko is not only scoring on a nearly nightly basis, leading the Blues with 23 points in 20 games, but he has scored some of the prettiest goals in the NHL all season. He has shown he does not need time or space to make something happen. This team may now be a top contender in the West and is a real strong possibility to go all the way. They are strong from lines 1 to 4 up front, all 6 D and they are getting much stronger goaltending this season out of  the Brian Elliot and Jake Allen tandem. It is a tall test anytime you see the Blues on your schedule.

Jets

Thursdays loss to the Detroit Red Wings may have been one of the most painful for Winnipeg all season. They not only wasted a 3 goal effort (a lot of goals for this team) but also failed to hold two leads, including a 2-0 lead early. Winnipeg gave up 2 in the last in the final 7 minutes and were not able to come back. Though disappointing the Jets did finally get a little bit of a rest that was well deserved, and the two day rest may be just what the doctor ordered heading into a match up with St. Louis coming off a back to back. The Jets will look to use their speed and size to wear the Devils down and take advantage of the schedule. At the same time however they cannot rely on the fact that St. Louis may be a bit fatigued, the Blues are a strong team that can run 4 lines at you and are more than capable to fill the net given the chance. Winnipeg needs to get back to their tight defensive game, while taking advantage of the chances they do have. The Jets have played themselves right out of the playoff spot they had previously earned this week and will be looking to get back in the game Sunday afternoon.

Keys to the Game

Control Emotions: Last time these teams played the Jets got caught up in a physical match up but then took it a little to far. Against a team this good Winnipeg can not afford to spend much time in the Penalty box. Play physical, play tough, but walk the line and do not give the Blues any extra chances.

Take Advantage: The Blues are playing for the second time in only 24 hours. There is bound to be fatigue in the Blues and the Jets need to take it to them. Speed and size will be Winnipegs best friends if they use them right.

Scoring by Committee: Scoring hasn’t been the Jets strong point this season but at least as of recently they can look to more than the first line to make offense happen. Perrault has goals in 2 straight (his first 2 of the year), Byfuglien has broken a 17 game goaless drought, and both the second and third lines are consistently creating chances. The Jets need offensive punch from more than just one line, and if they get it they will be successful.

Starting Goalies

Ondrej Pavelec (7-7-2) GAA: 2.25 SV% .919
Jake Allen (5-2-0) GAA: 2.00 SV% .922

Injuries

Both teams are at full health.

Last 10 (W-L-OTL)

Jets: 5-3-2
Blues: 7-3-0

Prediction

Tight game, not much scoring, Jets come out on top
Jets 2 Blues 1

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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!