"Dance with the one that brought you" - Shania Twain
That was the only quote I could find that sums up what I can only imagine Winnipeg Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff was thinking yesterday. Unable (or perhaps unwilling) to part with any assets (including a 7th for a guy like Steve Sullivan...) for much needed help or to move out any pending UFA's so as to not disrupt whatever chemistry is left in the room, it will be up to the guys that have got us to this point to get us into the dance. Sadly, I'm not so sure that's the group currently assembled has what it takes to hang on.
Losers of four straight and seven of their last ten, the Jets are spiraling out of control, are low in ammo and now know that no reinforcements are on the way. With Nik Antropov going down for the next two weeks, or basically the bulk of the remainder of the season, this team is in dire straits. And with Aaron Gagnon called up to replace Patrice Cormier and Mike Santorelli claimed to replace Antropov, management has rearranged the deck chairs on their own little Titanic as appear ready to begin sinking down the Eastern Conference.
Things won't get any easier tonight at the Bell Centre, as the Northeast Division leading Montreal Canadiens will look to rebound from a disappointing loss in Philadelphia last night and will try to take it out on the Jets. Despite these two teams being separated by only one spot in the standings (2nd vs. 3rd), lets not kid ourselves. The Jets are fortunate to be leading the Southeast right now, but the Washington Capitals are only two points back with two games in hand. A Caps win and a Jets loss could have the Jets waking up in 10th spot in the East tomorrow.
Keys to the Game:
- Stop sucking: This team has looked awful of late, and will need a heck of a performance tonight if they are to come home with a single victory on this three-game road trip. Not sucking would help.
- Take advantage of no Bustin: It sounds like Dustin Byfuglien was skating as a forward during the pre-game skate, so look for him to be a top-6 forward tonight. At least Bustin won't be around his own net playing bad defense, so that's good, right? Right?
- Keep the puck out of their net: Ondrej Pavelec hasn't been the only problem, but his 4.02 GAA and 0.890 sv% in the last two games sure aren't helping.
- Kick a team while their down: The Jets are a fragile group, and major damage can be done to their psyche, and playoff chances, if the Habs come out fast and furious. An early goal by Montreal could mean a long night for Jets fans.
- Win the special teams battle: It shouldn't be hard, as the Habs have the 9th best PP% (20.9%) and the 13th best PK% (80.5%), while the Jets have the 28th-ranked PP% (13.5%) and the 22nd-ranked PK% (79.1%). Oof.
- Defend home ice: This also shouldn't be difficult, as the Habs are 11-4-3 at home which is one of the better home records around. While the Jets are 10-9-2 on the road, it's easy to see which team should win tonight.
Player to Boo Mercilessly:
Lars Eller. That dude scored four goals against the Jets last year. I still remember.
Montreal 6 - F