JETBLAST: WINNIPEG @ OTTAWA

JETBLAST

Winnipeg Jets (7-5-2) at Pittsburgh Penguins (7-3-2) 6:00 p.m., Canadian Tire Centre, TV: Sportsnet  Radio:TSN 1290

Paul Maurice and Paul McLean are two coaches that took very different roads to the NHL, but this season they seem to have some similarities. Both coaches are getting the most of teams that the experts did not expect much of coming into the season. Both have instilled a culture and a certain feel in their locker rooms. They may be doing things differently but their results have looked similar. Saturday these two coaches teams will meet on Hockey Night in Canada, both looking to keep an impressive start going. The Winnipeg Jets and Ottawa Senators, set to drop the puck in an all Canadian match up Saturday night, Lets Go!

Senators

The Ottawa Senators are a team that seem to come from nowhere every year and impress. With 7 wins in 12 attempts the Sens find themselves among the leaders in the Eastern Conference. Ottawa has leaned on their defensive play so far this season, much like the Jets, and that is where most of their skill is kept. Erik Karlsson is the leader of the team on and off the ice, with 10 points the Sens captain finds himself on top of the Sens stats page. The young Swede is one of the best offensive defenseman in the game again and is one of the few gamebreakers on the blue line that this league has. Behind him is the stone wall Craig Anderson, with a .948 save percentage and 1.84 GAA Anderson is returning to the form that earned him such a big contract. The Sens do have two games this weekend, and Paul McLean has announced that both goaltenders will get a start. With Robyn Lehner and his .927 save percentage as the number two the Senators really can’t go wrong in the net.

Jets

The Jets may have lost their winning streak with a 4-3 shootout loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins Thursday night, but they seem to have gained more than they lost. The Jets leave that game feeling like they can keep up with the big guns, they played tight defensively besides a few break downs and managed 3 goals, which with the ways things have been going for them has to be considered a break out. Winnipeg has picked up their play,  earning points in 7 straight and working there way all the way into the playoff picture. Sure it is still way to early to look the postseason plans but  being in the discussion is a huge plus for this team.The biggest plus going for Winnipeg right now is Evander Kane. The winger had his best game of the season by far which included a his first goal of the season (100th overall) and numerous other chances. With Kane going Winnipegs offense gets a huge boost and if it can get going as well as the defense, the Jets have a real chance to be in the conversation in the West.

Keys to the Game

Speed: The Jets are at their best playing with speed, especially Evander Kane and Blake Wheeler, their rushes down the wing create numerous chances for the Jets. If the Jets can attack at the right time it could give them a huge edge Saturday night. Chris Phillips is a top two defenseman with Ottawa averaging over 20 minutes a night. There are questions if the 36 year old can keep up this pace however, this may be the target the Jets want to aim for.

Battle on the Blue Line: If ten games ago you were mentioning Toby Enstrom and Erik Karlsson in the same sentence people may have thought you were crazy. Recently though things have changes, Enstrom is playing the best hockey he has as a Jet and possibly of his career. Both Swedish defenseman are number ones on their team, they both average about 30 shifts and Enstrom has 8 points to Karlssons 10. Enstrom has also become a much improved defender, spending most of Thursday night matched up against Crosby or Malkin and managing t o hold them pointless.

Take Advantage: Winnipeg plays in the toughest division in Hockey, the Central is stacked with talent and making the playoffs from here is going to be tough every year. So far this season however some teams have played far below expectations, the Hawks, Wild, Stars, and Avs all find themselves out of the playoff picture at the moment, but it is sure that these teams will pick it up. The Jets need to take advantage while the can and keep winning.

Starting Goalies

Ondrej Pavelec (6-4-2) GAA: 2.07 SV% .923
Craig Anderson (4-2-1) GAA: 1.84 SV% .948

Injuries

Phillips, OTT, (LBI) day-to-day
Methot, OTT, (Back) out

Last 10 (W-L-OTL)

Jets: 6-2-2
Senators: 6-2-2

Prediction

Jets continue their strong play, get another W
Jets 4 Senators 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!