Winnipeg Jets @ Carolina Hurricanes Game Preview: The Biggest Game of the Season in Relation to the Offseason




Now that we are through with the "biggest game of the season" it is time to move on to the first of four "biggest games of the season in relation to the offseason." I know that is a bit wordy, but the results of tonight’s game will greatly impact 2012 NHL draft positioning. This is very important!! If you want to proudly say "The Winnipeg Jets finished 3rd in the South Least", this is a must win. If you are a fan of Tank Nation, as I am, you want a hard fought loss. This is a big game!!

The bottom of the Easter Conference is a complete clusterpuck this year. While the Jets currently sit in 10th place they are only four points out of 14th and a lottery pick in the upcoming draft. To add to this, four of the Jet’s remaining five games (Carolina, NYI and Tampa twice) are against teams that currently rank 10th through 14th in the east. Every game is a must watch!

Moving on to tonight’s game, the winner moves up the standings (unless the Canes win in OT) and the loser moves up the draft board. So which Jets goalie gets the start? I am going to assume we see Mason for the first time in ages. A Mason start would have nothing to do with tanking the game. This is the first game of a back to back and Mason has played Carolina well this season. Mason is 4-1 against the Canes, Pavelec has been bad. Pavi is 0-1 with a .850 save percentage; remember he also got pulled from an early season showdown. There may also be a couple players returning form injury, it will be interesting to see who dresses.

Keys to the Game, Player Numbers and Lineups coming up after THE JUMP

Keys to the Game:

  • Work hard! As I mentioned I will be not be shattered by a loss, but I do want to see some effort. Players like Stapleton, Welly, Machacek and Maxwell still have something to gain with a solid effort, but I want to see how the big guys respond.
  • Roll four lines. If Machacek and Maxwell dress, they need to get some ice time. This is the first night of back to back games, they have been productive, Carolina doesn’t have a terrifying bottom six and I want to see more of what they offer. Maxwell and Machacek are supposed to be solid two way players, let’s see what they’ve got.
  • Ignore Eric Staal. Without the Winnipeg crowd harassing him he will be rendered all but useless. Feel free to ignore him. Even if he is in perfect position to intercept a pass and turn it into a breakaway, he won’t convert. That’s how that works… right?
  • I am very curious to see who gets into the lineup tonight. If Thorburn and Antropov are ready to go, who comes out? I want to see more of our young M’s but the Ice Caps need them and a deep AHL playoff run will be good for their development.
  • I also have no idea if we see Ran_y or Clitty tonight. I still want more Clitty, but it is possible noel just wants to get Randy. Regardless of who is in there, please don’t suck! I have been begging for Clitty and he left me with egg on my face (I assume it was egg) against the Rangers.
  • Wheeler needs to get busy scoring goals! I want him to have scored 20 goals by the end of the season. That means he needs three goals in five games. I also want Kaner to finish the season with over 30. Get to work boys!
  • On that note, let’s get some stats! We all know stats are more important than wins. I can’t find it anywhere, but I think that is the AIH mission statement

Lineups

Jets (GP 77 35-34-8 78 PTS)

Forwards

#16 Andrew Ladd -- #18 Bryan Little -- #26 Blake Wheeler

#9 Evander Kane -- #8 Alexander Burmistrov -- #20 Antti Miettinen

#14 Tim Stapleton -- #49 Nik Antropov -- #13 Kyle Wellwood

#15 Tanner Glass -- #19 Jim Slater -- #46 Spencer Machacek

Defencemen

#39 Tobias Enstrom -- #33 Dustin Byfuglien

#6 Ron Hainsey -- #4 Zach Bogosian

#5 Mark Stuart -- #24 Grant Clitsome

Goaltender

#50 Chris Mason

Mason is due to start, Pavelec looks exhausted it makes too much sense.

Hurricanes (GP 77 31-31-15 PTS)

Forwards

#17 Jiri Tlusty -- #12 Eric Staal -- #59 Chad LaRose

#53 Jeff Skinner -- #36 Jussi Jokinen -- #15 Tuomo Ruutu

#21 Drayson Bowman -- #16 Brandon Sutter -- #39 Patrick Dwyer

#27 Derek Joslin -- #37 Tim Brent -- #13 Anthony Stewart

Defencemen

#5 Bryan Allen -- #6 Tim Gleason

#44 Jay Harrison -- #28 Justin Faulk

#25 Joni Pitkanen -- #4 Jamie McBain

Goaltender

#30 Cam Ward

Player to boo mercilessly: Anybody but Eric Staal. That makes him play like a superstar.

Prediction: Winnipeg 3-4 Carolina. Jets just can’t kick their road struggles and move on up the draft board.

GO JETS GO!

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