The Colorado Avalanche are rolling into town on… believe it or not… a losing streak. They started as the hottest team in the league but have cooled down, losing 3 of their last 4. They are sitting in the final playoff position (on pace for 113 points) in the West and looking to climb back onto the perch atop the Central that they had spent most of the early season on. Their last game was a 2-1 loss to Phoenix at home on Tuesday night. The Jets and Avalanche have only met once to this point this year. The Jets controlled most of the first two periods and went into the 3rd up 2-1 but the Avalanche stormed back with 17 3rd period shots to win the game 3-2 late.
The Jets are in the middle of a short albeit important 3 game homestand against Central Division foes. The Jets dropped a 2-1 decision to the St. Louis Blues on Tuesday night. The Jets really lacked offensive cohesion in the effort but one could argue that they didn’t deserve their fate. Alex Steen banked a shot in off of Pavelec from behind the Jets’ net and Bryan Little deflected a Kevin Shattenkirk point shot up in the air that rainbowed over Pavelec without him even noticing. That said, the Jets played a sound defensive game but have also won some games this year that they did not deserve to win.
It is worth noting the Jets, in all their caginess, have downgraded Evander Kane who is now caught in the purgatory between day-to-day, week-to-week, and out indefinitely with a lower/middle/central body injury. Long story short, he’s apparently not playing for a while now.
Keys to the Game
1) Gain some sort of offensive momentum - I am starting to find the offensive inconsistency on this team quite off-putting. There is nobody on this team that is showing themselves to be reliable. There are a lot of guys that are proving that they can contribute offensively, but nobody is doing it with any regularity. The Jets need a push right now if they have any hope of making it to the postseason and that push requires somebody to get on a hot streak. It doesn’t matter if it’s Bryan Little, Blake Wheeler, Andrew Ladd, Dustin Byfuglien, Devin Setoguchi, or Toby Enstrom. Somebody needs to take this team on their back and go for a little run to start the momentum going in the right direction.
2) Win the PK - The Jets have been going to the penalty box way too often this year (7th in minor penalties) and it isn’t showing any signs of improving. Colorado, amongst all of their successes, have had a rather weak power play this year (15.3%, good for 23rd). The Jets on the other hand have had a relatively decent penalty kill (83.3%, 11th). Assuming that the Jets will be taking their fair share of penalties, they need to continue to assert their PK dominance.
3) Continue to improve the PP - The Jets finally appeared to have a competent power play against the Blues. They were able to generate some great scoring chances on their first two man advantages and even get a rare power play marker. The Jets need to take what they generated on Tuesday night and build on it instead of just coasting as the Jets are known to do.
1) Score first - This one is easy. The Avalanche are a stunning 17-0-0 when they score first. I believe that is what we like to refer to as a trend.
2) Win the faceoffs - The Avalanche have struggled thus far in the face off circle, winning just 48.7 percent of their draws. Fortunately for them, they are up against one of the few teams in the league that is worse than them at the dot. The Avs need to pounce on the Jets and gain possession early. Games like this can be used as a springboard for confidence moving forward.
3) Dictate the play - The Jets are a team that like to have the play dictated for them a lot of the time instead of dictating the play themselves. The Avs are a high scoring team that may be best served trying to get the Jets into a high speed, high scoring game. The Jets tend to get sloppy in these games and it could give the Avs the opportunity to get both Matt Duchense and Gabriel Landeskog rolling as they have each had a relatively quiet December.
Player Coach To Boo Mercilessly:
Patrick Roy. I think it may be fun to try to get the loose cannon behind the bench a little riled up. Yeah, I like that idea. Let’s see how strong the glass in between Brian Engblom and the Avalanche bench.