JETBLAST: WINNIPEG @ VANCOUVER

JETBLAST

Winnipeg Jets (26-18-8) at Vancouver Canucks (27-18-3) 9:00 p.m., Rogers Arena,
TV: TSN3 Radio: TSN 1290
The Winnipeg Jets play their second game in as many night on Tuesday when they continue their travel West and stop on the coast for a date against the Vancouver Canucks. This is a match up of teams headed in pretty similar directions. The Jets of course are now on a 4 game losing streak since the All-Star break, giving up 5 goals a game. The Canucks meanwhile have lost 3 of 4, giving up 4 goals in each of those games. With both teams so heavily entrenched in the playoff hunt, this game is hugely important and you can bet everyone will come out flying. Winnipeg and Vancouver both need these two points desperately, but only 1 can have them. Jets and Canucks in a late one on the coast, Lets Go!

Canucks

The Vancouver Canucks are the team in the Western Conference that has played the fewest games, with only 48. Last night, with the Flames win over Winnipeg, the Canucks lost their playoff spot in the Pacific division and fell down to the second wild card, just three points behind Winnipeg, but with 4 games in hand. Last week Canucks fans would have felt confident that their team would win at least a couple of those games in hand, but with their recent struggles, everything is up in the air. This is a very interesting match up as both teams have been losing, but more interesting, both have been giving up goals hand over fist. This makes no sense with the goaltenders tending net for Vancouver, both Eddie Lack and Ryan Miller have had strong seasons. Miller has started seven straight games and it appears former Manitoba Moose goalie Eddie Lack will get the call. The young Swede appears to be tabbed as the goaltender of the future for Vancouver, but for now he will take the starts when he gets them. Lack has had his struggles this season however as he has lost double the games he’s won. The Canucks need Lack to be the goalie they expect if they want to break out of the slump they are currently in.

Jets

Make it 4 straight for Winnipeg and the losses keep getting worse and worse. A 5-2 loss to the Flames is the most recent, last night in Calgary, and it was one of the most dis-heartening. The Jets never seemed in the game and struggled to get scoring chances the whole 60 minutes. Worse than that, they once again gave up 5 goals, marking the 4th straight game they’ve done that. The goal tending has not been good, but the team defense has been absolutely terrible. The Jets are breaking down all over the ice, turnovers are rampant, and they cannot keep teams from getting odd man rushes and quality chances on a near shift by shift basis. Although he made a relief appearance last night, you would expect the Jets to give Ondrej Pavelec the start. With the struggles of Michael Hutchinson, this may be a chance for Pavelec to earn back some of the starts that he is losing to the young netminder. If Pavelec can play well and carry the Jets tonight he may go a long way to making that happen. The Jets are sure to be tired, traveling from the East to West coast in just a week, but they cannot afford to lose another game in the tight Western Conference.

Keys to the Game

No Excuses: The Winnipeg Jets will be playing their 5th game in just over a week. A week which has seen them travel thousands of miles from one side of the continent to the other. the Jets have lost all these games and have struggled through them. They have also felt a little bit prosecuted by refs, as it seems no call is going their way. The Jets cannot afford these kind of excuses however and they need to start winning.

The Big Save: The Winnipeg Jets have struggled to keep the puck out of the net, that shows with the 20 GA in the 4 games they have lost in a row. Though there have been huge struggles on defense, both by the Dmen and the supporting forwards. If they want to win tonight, they need Pavelec to be something extra. He cannot just make the saves he “should” make but he needs to go above and beyond for the Jets to have a chance.

Control the rate of play: If Winnipeg allows the Canucks to dictate the way this game is played they will be in big trouble. They will not have the stamina to play run and gun hockey with the high flying Canucks all day. The Jets need to slow the game down, and draw the Canucks into their style of play.

Starting Goalies

Ondrej Pavelec (12-11-6) GAA: 2.51 SV% .911
Eddie Lack (3-6-2) GAA: 2.61 SV% .912

Injuries

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

Bieksa, VAN, (Broken hand) out
Richardson, VAN, (LBI) out

Last 10 (W-L-OTL)

Jets: 5-4-1
Canucks: 4-6-0

Prediction

Jets keep on losing, earn a point in overtime however
Canucks 4 Jets 3 O.T.

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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!