It's amazing what one game can do. A win against an awful Sabres team suddenly renews hope for the Jets, as they continue their season long 5 game road trip, with game 2 of the swing taking place in Raleigh against the Hurricanes.
Carolina is "just" 4 points ahead of Winnipeg in the top spot in the Southeast Division, a close enough proximity to once again get hopes up that the playoffs are attainable this year. The recent win also means that Winnipeg is now seventh last in overall standings, putting a dent in their chances of picking first overall. The moral of the story is: Winnipeg is as effective at being good as they are at being bad. Kidding aside, the Jets can still finish strong in a weak Division, and winning the series against Carolina would do wonders for that. This is the first of 4 meeting between the 2 squads, so it would be best to get off on the right skate.
The teams are coming off of exact opposite recent results. The Jets snapped a 3 game losing streak by beating Buffalo in their most recent game, while Carolina ended a 3 game winning streak by being shut out by Montreal. However, Carolina has been the better team in recent weeks which is why they sit atop the Division.
Eric Staal had a 11 game point streak come to an end in the loss against the Canadiens, but still leads the Canes with 17 points in 14 games. Jeff Skinner, who has their second highest amount of points, is out with a concussion so the Jets dodge a bullet there.
Looking at the numbers, these teams are not separated by much. Their special teams are weak and their starting goaltenders have been less than prime, so this turns into another winnable game for the Jets.
Keys to the Game:
- Keep up the save percentage: Ondrej Pavelec came to play on Tuesday night, turning aside 29 of 30, including a few big saves in the third while holding onto a one goal lead. The jets need similar outputs on this roadtrip if they're to come away with at least 5 points.
- Hit the net: I swear there's an echo in here, but ask Evander Kane why this is important. Hint: it involves an empty net. The decisions as to whether or not to shoot, or how the shots are taken are still suspect. Andrew Ladd has opted for low percentage passes instead of shooting of late, and it cost the Jets their lone goal against in Buffalo. It wasn't as bad as the Bruins game, but the offense still has quite a ways to go before reaching its potential.
- Penalty Kill: This game will feature Carolina's 29th ranked penalty kill against Winnipeg's 30th ranked unit. The Jets have been in much better form in this regard as of late, so if they can get a few extra man opportunities, they stand a good chance of capitalizing.
Jordan Eric JaredMarc is better!: Either Jordan Staal or Eric Staal are capable of stealing games with their offensive play. The Jets had a good year against Carolina last year, but need to make sure that they take care of the biggest offensive weapons to ensure that this is a matchup to take advantage of this year.
- Goaltending: Whether it's Dan Ellis or Cam Ward, I think the Jets have a chance to put a few in the net. Ellis is playing way above his head to start the year, while Ward continues to show that despite his NHL playoff success, he's just another Marc-Andre Fleury.
- Depth: Beyond the Staals and Alexander Semin there is not a lot to choose from in terms of scoring options for Carolina. If the Jets can shut down the top lines, they shouldn't have to worry too much about getting undressed by the Canes depth players. Whether or not Pavs stops the puck is another story.
Player to boo mercilessly:
Marc Staal. Yes, the only Staal brother not in the Canes organization. No, this doesn't make sense.
Carolina 3 - F