JETBLAST: WINNIPEG @ NASHVILLE

JETBLAST

Winnipeg Jets (28-18-10) at Nashville Predators (36-12-6) 7:00 p.m., Bridgestone Arena,
TV: TSN3 Radio: TSN 1290
In what could possibly be a preview of a playoff match up, the Winnipeg Jets and Nashville Predators meet Thursday night in Nashville. The Preds have won two of the three games this season. They beat the Jets in the home opener in Winnipeg 2-0, Winnipeg responded with a 3-1 win the next time the Predators visited Manitoba, and in their only match up in the Music city the Predators won 2-1. The games between Winnipeg and Nashville have been very tightly played, very defensive, which seems to play right into the Jets style. However, the Predators are probably the best defensive team in the league, Shea Weber may be the best there is right now, and Pekka Rinne is among the best at his position as well. For this to be a playoff preview, the Jets need to make the playoffs, a win tonight goes a long way, Lets Go!

Predators

All season, many people have been waiting for the Preds to drop off. We all knew they were good, but to be among the best teams in the NHL, no one expected that. Many (I included) kept waiting for the fall, the 6 or 7 game losing streak, the fall back down to earth, but it never came. The Predators have continued to win only losing 12 times all season, they sit in first in the West by 3 points, with a game in hand and that is the same in the East. The Predators are in a position where the Presidents trophy is theirs to lose. A couple weeks ago, the Predators lost their most important player, the best goalie in the league to injury. Again many expected some losses to come, but the Preds overcame. Now they have their number one goaltender back, and the Predators look even more dangerous than ever. Rinne is the anchor on this team teams, he keeps them solid. They have one of the best defenses going, and when that fails they have the best goaltender in the world to back stop them.

Jets

It was an exciting day off for the Winnipeg team and their fans. Out of nowhere, Jets fans woke up yesterday morning to the news that a trade was imminent, and the trade was with the Buffalo Sabres. Okay, that’s odd, but I guess Kane had to go and the sooner the better…Wait what? Bogosian too? Now this is completely unexpected. The Jets traded Evander Kane, Zach Bogosian, and a prospect to the Buffalo Sabres for a rental player in Drew Strafford, a huge defense man Tyler Myers, the Sabres top left and right wing prospect, and a first round pick. I’d say Chevy did a pretty good job for a player that no one wanted in Winnipeg anymore. As for Zach Bogosian, he will be missed but the Jets got a great return for an injury prone defense man and a guy who has been a little inconsistent. Myers and Stafford will immediately draw into the lineup. The Jets have their third line forward they wanted to replace Kane, and they still have time to get another if they want it. Life beyond Kane starts tonight, and the Jets need to keep on winning to get this first playoff birth.

Keys to the Game

Big Buff’: Though the team won’t make the playoffs just because of Dustin Byfuglien, there is certainly a good possibility they can’t do it without the big mans A game. Byfuglien will make the switch back to defense for tonight’s game, the position he far prefers. The Jets need him to continue to be the force that he has been, and to continue to be Winnipeg’s best player. If the Jets can continue to get that kind of skill from the big man, and he doesn’t make to many mistakes, the Jets will be in a prime position to finally make it into the post season dance.

Chemistry: With one big piece of the dressing room gone in Zach Bogosian, and two brand new pieces joining, how they fit in on this team, and how fast they can do that is an enormous question mark. Coach Maurice is obviously not worried as they will be in the lineup just over 24hrs after being acquired. Stafford will draw in with Mark Scheifele and Mathieu Perreault while Myers will play with Toby Enstrom. If Stafford and Myers can fit in, this team may have gotten immensely better, however if it takes them a while to adjust, it will be a while that the Jets don’t have.

No big Mistakes: You can bet this will be a defensive game, all the games between these two teams are, and more to the point all Nashville games go like that. With that in mind, if the Jets make mistakes and they end up behind Michael Hutchinson or Ondrej Pavelec, that might be all it takes to lose this game.

Starting Goalies

Michael Hutchinson (15-7-3) GAA: 2.18 SV% .925
Pekka Rinne (31-7-2) GAA: 2.01 SV% .929

Injuries

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

Ekholm, NSH, (UBI) day-to-day
Wilson, NSH, (UBI) day-to-day
Ellis, NSH, (LBI) out

Last 10 (W-L-OTL)

Jets: 4-4-2
Wild: 6-2-2

Prediction

Jets earn third straight win
Jets 3 Predators 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!