JETBLAST: WINNIPEG @ DALLAS

JETBLAST

Winnipeg Jets (22-14-8) at Dallas Stars (19-16-7)  7:30 p.m., American Airlines Center,
TV: TSN3 Radio: TSN 1290
For the second time this season the Jets visit the state where everything is bigger, for one of the biggest match-ups of the season thus far. The Dallas Stars welcome the Winnipeg Jets to American Airlines Center in Dallas for a game with huge playoff implications in the Western Conference. The Jets currently sit in the 1st wildcard spot, 7th in the Western Conference. The are 7 points up on the Dallas Stars, currently sitting in tenth place, who do have 2 games in hand. This will be the second meeting between these two division rivals this season, in the first, also in Texas, the Jets were led by Adam Lowry’s first career 2 goal game, which contributed to a 5-2 Jets win. The game was expected to be much tighter, however the Jets dominated and will look to do it again and gain a huge 2 points.

Stars

These inter divisional games can be enormous in the standings as they are worth 4 points in the end. The Stars who after starting so terribly this season played themselves all the way back into the chase. Though they have struggled in the last week or so, the Stars are still right in the race and with all the skill they have if they can put everything together they shouldn’t have a problem. The Stars are of course led by the surprising play of Tyler Seguin. Seguin who was acquired from the Boston Bruins was not expected to be among the elite in the league, but all of a sudden this season they have become that, especially on the offensive end. Seguin is tied for third in the NHL in points with 48 and tied for first in goals with 26. Combined with other forwards, Jason Spezza, Jaime Benn, and others the offensive skill on this team is unbelievable and if they can keep goals out of their net the Stars will be able to make some noise in the Western Conference.

Jets

The Winnipeg Jets played possibly their best game of the year Tuesday night when they smacked the Florida Panthers by an 8-2 score. The Jets had two players who really took over the game, the first was Dustin Byfuglien. Byfuglien the big defenseman who has probably been the Jets best player over the past month and half, scored two enormous goals, both of them absolute beauties. When he combines his scoring ability with his size and defensive play Byfuglien is one of a kind talent and that is huge for the Jets. The other Jet who really stole the spotlight Tuesday night was Mathieu Perreault. Perreault, who nearly won one fan 1 million dollars, scored four goals and had he been able to convert all his chances easily could have been able to score 6 or 7. The man who was picked up as a free agent this summer has been the biggest and most pleasant surprise for Winnipeg scoring 15 goals and adding 13 assists. With a solid option on the second line to help supplement scoring the Jets have a huge advantage over their team from last season and it can make a difference in the playoff push. In quick notes, Ondrej Pavelec will get the start Thursday night, he took the 5-4 shootout loss in Anaheim on Sunday but played well for the most part. Jacob Trouba continued to skate with the team but is not quite ready to return to the lineup. Paul Maurice got his 500th win on Tuesday and became the second youngest coach to ever hit that mark, behind the legendary Scotty Bowman.

Keys to the Game

Fourth Line Play: One of the most encouraging aspects to the 8-2 win over the Panthers on Tuesday was the play of their fourth line. For much of this season the 4th line has been limited in minutes and their play has been very disappointing. Though they did get far more minutes in that game due to the score, the Jets got great play, solid puck possession, and a legitimate threat from the fourth line players. If that line can continue to produce for Winnipeg it will be a huge asset in the second half of the season.

Discipline: The Stars have some of the most deadly players in the game today. If the Jets give them too many chances with the extra man they will get burned. Especially the way they have been playing on the penalty kill, if the Jets give the Stars a lot of chances they will lose this game

Limit the Stars: The Stars, stars, can absolutely take over a game. The top players for this team have the ability to put the puck in the net on every shift. Tyler Seguin, Jaime Benn, Jason Spezza, and a slew of others can all fill the net. If the Jets can slow down the big guns and limit the Stars offense to their bottom 6 forwards they will raise their chances to win  ten fold.

Starting Goalies

Ondrej Pavelec (10-10-6) GAA: 2.52 SV% .909
Kari Lehtonen (17-9-7) GAA: 2.91 SV% .906

Injuries

Trouba, WPG, (Undisclosed) out
Clitsome, WPG, (Back) out for season

Fiddler, DAL, (LBI) day-to-day
Eaves, DAL, (LBI) out
Nichuskin, DAL, (Groin) out
Nemeth, DAL, (Arm) out
Peverly, DAL, (Heart) out

Last 10 (W-L-OTL)

Jets: 5-4-1
Stars: 5-3-2

Prediction

Jets widen the gap on the Stars
Jets 4 Stars 3

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!