Winnipeg Jets (33-22-12) at Florida Panthers (29-23-14) 6:30 p.m., BB&T Center,
TV: TSN3 Radio: TSN 1290
Two teams in an intense battle for wild card spots will match up in Sunrise, Florida tonight. Though they play in different conferences, the two former SouthEast division foes are very much floating in the same boat. Both teams currently sit right at the bottom of the playoff picture, and the race is on around them and the leads are shrinking, and in the Jets case, gone. This will be the second meeting between the teams this season and Winnipeg hopes it goes the same. In the first game Mathieu Perreault scored 4 goals and that was only half of the Jets production as they would win 8-2. This is a different team however, Florida was a busy team at the deadline and they want to make the playoffs, every game is enormous for both teams and loses cannot happen. It is Jets and Panthers, tonight, Let Go!


The Florida Panthers did not have many expectations headed into the season, and the most exciting things they have done all year was trading for a 43 year old Jaromir Jagr, and a game where both their goaltenders were injured. It has not been a season to remember for the Panthers, but after all that they are still in the playoff hunt. Just 6 points out of the final wild card spot, with Boston and Washington in their sights, Florida is very much alive. Scoring has been the issue for this team, only Nick Bjugstad has 40 or more points, he is at 40, besides that no one on this team has crossed that line. The Panthers expect to have Dave Bolland back for tonights game, he has missed the last 10 games first with an upper body injury, then the flu. On the other hand Roberto Luongo will sit out despite working out with the team yesterday. Dan Ellis will make his third start of the year in place of Luongo, he has yet to lose in regulation.


Wow, not much else you can say about that game. The Jets got punched right in the gut as after overcoming a 3 goal deficit in the third period and battling back to make it appear they would at least earn a single point when it didn’t seem possible headed in. Then with 90 seconds left the Blues won a meaningless face off at the blue line. Barret Jackman threw it towards the net from inbetween the Centre line and Blue line, a dump in that happens 10 or fifteen times a game. Except this one beat Ondrej Pavelec. Pavelec who had played so well in the period, who had given the Jets a chance, lost the puck behind Jacob Trouba and in the crowd and it beat him on the glove side. It may have been the most deflating moment in the whole season, and when it comes down to it, the loss of that point, or two, may be the difference. At this point the Jets lead in the wildcard is gone, if teams win their games hand, the Jets will find themselves on the outside looking in. This is a game the Jets must win, no excuses.

Keys to the Game

Bounce Back: The Jets probably hit the high point and the low point of their season in the same game. Heading into the third no one saw that happen, and the way the game ended was even more unpredictable. Losing a game like that can completely shake the team however, and tonight will be huge. Winnipeg needs to bounce back and play the same style that got that game tied, come out and give it everything.

Goaltending: Michael Hutchinson has been pulled in his last two games, and the Ondrej Pavelec situation has been talked to death at this point. Expect Hutch to get the start, but either way, the Jets need better from their net minder. Winnipeg needs their goalie to steal some games on the way to playoffs, if they cannot then the Jets will not be in the playoffs. It falls on one position to either make this season worth it, or just another or so close call.

Scoreboard Watching: Once again the Jets got no help around them. The Kings sit a point back after a win Tuesday night, the Flames did their thing again, erasing a deficit, scoring 5 straight goals and winning again. The lead is non exsistant for the Jets so winning is the only thing they can do. Take the ice and do your thing.

Starting Goalies

Michael Hutchinson (20-8-5) GAA: 2.30 SV% .918
Brian Elliot (21-10-2) GAA: 2.16 SV% .923


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

Montoya, FLA (Groin) out
Ekblad, FLA, (Flu) day-to-day
Kopecky, FLA, (Flu) day-to-day

Last 10 (W-L-OTL)

Jets: 5-3-2
Panthers: 4-4-2


Jets do what they need to do, bounce back.
Jets 3 Panthers 0

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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!