JETBLAST: WINNIPEG @ WASHINGTON

JETBLAST

Washington Capitals (31-17-10) at Winnipeg Jets (30-19-10) 6:00 p.m., Verizon Center,
TV: TSN3 Radio: TSN 1290
The Jets rekindle an old Southeast division rivalry Thursday night when they travel to Washington for a date with Alexander Ovechkin and the Capitals. This will be the first of two meeting this season, the second coming at the MTS Centre in one of the last couple games for the Jets this season. Washington has been a surprise to many as everyone knew there was skill, however the Caps have been great on both ends of the ice and sit near the top of the NHL’s Eastern Conference. This will be a highly contested game and  both teams can improve their ranking if they can get a win and two points. Jets and Caps in Washington tonight, Lets Go!

Capitals

The Washington Capitals are no longer a one faceted team. In the past the Caps have been able to survive on offensive skill, but when the playoffs came and the checking got a little bit tighter, the Capitals would get into trouble, and have failed to advance late in the playoffs for years. It is different now, The Caps are top 10 in goals per game, which you’d expect, sitting in 7th, but  the surprise is that they sit in 8th in goals against per game. The shift did not come fast for Ovi and the Caps but it is working now, and it makes the Caps a very difficult match up come playoff time. Washington also sits second in PP% and in the top ten in most of the NHL categories. They are one of the best teams in the league and will be an enormous challenge for the Winnipeg Jets. The game is just as important for the Capitals as it is for Winnipeg, they both sit in 7th in their conferences, and both are trying to hold on, and move up.

Jets

After spending the last month healthy and dodging the injury bug, it snuck up on the Jets Monday night and bit in a big way. Mathieu Perreault is gone for the rest of the regular season after getting checked into the boards early in the game. The Jets are calling it a lower body injury, but it doesn’t matter, the point is one of the Jets most important pieces is now missing. Drew Stafford also went down with an injury during Mondays game, after a face off Stafford came up lame, favoring his arm. Stafford did not return, he will take morning skate tonight but his status is unknown at this time. Tyler Myers also came up lame during the game but was able to return and even scored a huge goal/ The loss of Perreault could be enormous for the Jets, he was one of their most important players, scored big goals, and he won them many  games especially just before Christmas, when he was really the main offensive threat for a time. To help fill the void the Jets have called up Carl Klingberg, in 10 games played Klingberg has managed one NHL goal. In 51 games in the AHL this season Klingberg has 15 goals and 15 assists, he sits third in scoring and first in goals on the team.

Keys to the Game

Best Scorer in the Game: Winnipeg matches up against the best goal scorer playing the game today. Alexander Ovechkin leads the league with 37 goals and is a threat every time he touches the puck and every time he shoots it has a pretty good possibility to go in. Ovechkin will get chances, and the averages say he will score. If you can limit his production and focus on eveything around him, you may still be able to overcome “The Great 8.”

Penalty Kill: Over those previously mentioned 37 goals, a large number of them have come on the powerplay, and most have been assisted by Nick Backstrom. Backstrom actually leads the team in points this season, 1 ahead of Ovi, due in large part to his 44 assists. If you give these guys the chance with the extra man they are going to score, and you know the Jets will give them a chance. As the most penalized team they need their PK unit to step up and hold the 23.6% power play of the Capitals off.

Goaltending: The Caps have the more dynamic offense, they score prettier goals, while the Jets battle for every inch on the ice and the goals are often ugly. Braden Holtby and Ondrej Pavelec will tend net against each other tonight and whoever wins this battle will win the game for their team. The Caps pose a big challenge for Pavelec and he must come up huge Thursday night for the Jets to win.

Starting Goalies

Ondrej Pavelec (13-12-7) GAA: 2.55 SV% .910
Braden Holtby (27-12-9) GAA: 2.17 SV% .924

Injuries

Clitsome, WPG, (Back) out for season
Halischuk, WPG, (Undisclosed) out
Stafford, WPG, (UBI) day-to-day
Perreault, WPG, (LBI) out

Erskine, WSH, (Neck Surgery) out
Orlov, WSH, (Wrist) out

Last 10 (W-L-OTL)

Jets: 4-4-2
Capitals: 6-3-1

Prediction

Jets struggle for offense without Perreault, can’t keep up with high powered Capitals
Capitals 5 Jets 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!