Preview: Winnipeg Jets look to keep ascending in 2014, visit Senators in Ottawa

Francois Laplante/Freestyle Phot

Winners of three-straight and possessing a dominate 11-4-1 record against the Eastern Conference, the Winnipeg Jets look to keep ascending the standings in the Central Division with tonight's visit to Ottawa.

Preview:

A new year appears to have brought with it a new attitude for the Winnipeg Jets. Fresh off of the sabre-rattling they gave Buffalo on New Years Eve, the Jets enter 2014 on a three-game winning streak and will look to build on that as they travel to Ottawa to take on the Senators. The Sens have won two-straight games of their own, so two teams who are trending "up", at least in the short term, will be on display tonight.

Which team will remain undefeated in 2014 after tonight's game?  Stay tuned.

Keys to the Game:

Winnipeg

  • #wallmontoya - Al Montoya is expected to get his third straight start, as the goalie controversy in Winnipeg is clearly in full effect. Monty has an 8-2-1 record on the year with a 1.85 GAA and a sterling 0.936 sv%. In front of the same defense that apparently leaves Ondrej Pavelec "hung to out dry", might I add. Did I also mention that Montoya shutout the Sens last year in Ottawa?
  • Big Wheels Keep on Turning - Blake Wheeler is rolling, and is fresh off of his selection to the Sochi Olympics for Team USA. This is the good Wheeler.  His Cy Young-like December (10 goals and 4 assists) led the team in both goals and points, and his trademark "hot streak" is in full effect. The Jets need him to avoid the "cold streak" from happening, at least until the Olympic Games.
  • The Kids are Alright - I've been critical of Mark Scheifele a lot this year, and I wrote an article with a dumb title a few years ago about the Jets possibly regretting drafting Jacob Trouba (which, in my defense, was more about Filip Forsberg falling down the draft rankings like Anze Kopitar did, but I digress...), so I'm quite willing to eat my fair share of crow here. The kids are alright. In fact, they were downright excellent in December. Hopefully they can keep it up and not hit the rookie way in the 2nd half of the season.

Ottawa

  • Anger Rising - Bobby Ryan was not only passed over by Team USA for the Sochi Olympics, but he was absolutely eviscerated by Brian Burke and the other execs in those two articles about how the team was picked.  They suggested that he couldn't spell "intense" and called him a "sleepy" skater. Mr. Ryan didn't take too kindly to these words. I expected a pretty motivated player tonight for the Sens.
  • We Must Protect This House! - Sure, the Jets have won three straight games heading into tonight's game, but the Sens have won two-in-a-row as well, and both came at home against pretty good competition in the Bruins and Capitals. But with a 10-10-4 record at the Canadian Tire Centre (I can't believe that's what it's called now), Ottawa needs to do a a better job of protecting their house.
  • How the West Was Won - A lot of talk has been made about the Jets and their move to the West, but one thing that isn't talked much about is that the Jets are 11-4-1 against the East. As for the Senators, they're a rather pedestrian 2-9-3 against the West. Man, the Leastern Conference is terrible compared to the Bestern Conference.

Player to Boo Mercilessly:

    Bobby Ryan. That guy is a sleepy skater who doesn't have the word intense in his vocabulary, as per Brian Burke.  So let's pour some salt on his wound.

Final Score:

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