Preview: Winnipeg Jets soar in to Pittsburgh to take on the Iginla-less Penguins

Charles Leclaire-US PRESSWIRE

The Jets get the Penguins at a very opportune time, as Pittsburgh won't have the recently-acquired Iginla in the lineup. And with Letang out and Malkin & Fleury as game-time decisions, the Pens won't be anywhere near full strength.

Game Preview:

Holy crap, the Pittsburgh Penguins acquired Jarome Iginla last night? But I thought he was traded to Boston?! Ouch, that's a tough one for Bruins fans...

So let me get this straight - the Penguins have won 13 straight games, yet feel the need to make wholesale changes and bring in Iginla, Brenden Morrow and Douglas Murray? That's, um, interesting. I guess Ray Shero doesn't believe in the old saying "If it ain't broke, don't fix it."

Luckily for the Winnipeg Jets, tonight's game couldn't come at a better time. As the deal between the Flames and Pens wasn't finished off until late last night, Iginla will not be in the lineup tonight as I'm sure lots of things will need to be taken care of first. The Penguins will also be without Kris Letang, while Marc-Andre Fleury and Evgeni Malkin are game-time decisions, so the All-Star Team assembled in Pittsburgh isn't quite ready to play together. Yet.

As for the Jets, they've won two straight games and will be looking to add another critical point or two in the standings. And while they have their own injuries to deal with, Winnipeg will at least have their high-priced talent in the lineup tonight. If this team wants to show the hockey world that they deserve to be in the playoffs, a victory over Sidney Crosby and his Penguins tonight would go a long way in doing so.

Puck drop is at 6:00 CST at the Consol Energy Center in Pittsburgh, PA.

Keys to the Game:

Winnipeg Jets
  • Keep pucks out of their net: The Penguins have scored the most goals in the NHL with 117 through 34 games, so it will be imperative for the Jets to play a solid defensive game. Even without their full lineup, the Pens can bulge the twine.
  • Play the perfect road game: Pittsburgh has one of the best home records in the league (13-4-0), but the Jets have a pretty good road record themselves (10-6-2). A solid road game against a team that isn't at full-strength could add some very important points in the standings.
  • Keep getting secondary scoring: It was fantastic to see Evander Kane, Olli Jokinen and Nik Antropov score the other day in Carolina, as secondary scoring has been a major issue for this team. Ladd's Little Wheeler continue to be excellent in almost every game, but relying on them to produce all of the offense is a recipe for disaster.
Pittsburgh Penguins
  • Overcome adversity: Injuries to important players like Letang and Fleury would be hard to overcome for most teams, but the Penguins aren't like most teams. But with Evgeni Malkin likely returning tonight and Sidney Crosby playing as well as he ever has, the Pens are a formidable opponent on any given night.
  • Score the first goal: The Penguins are 17-5-0 when scoring the first goal, while the Jets are 7-10-1 when giving up the opening tally. If Pittsburgh scores first, odds are that they're on their way to a victory.
  • Draw penalties: Pittsburgh has the 2nd-ranked PP with a 23.8% conversion rate. And while the Jets' PK has been really good of late, they're still 24th in the league at 78.5%.

Player to Boo Mercilessly:

Brandon Sutter. Because it's his stupid family and their "bloodlines" that caused Chevy to waste a 2nd-round pick on Lukas Sutter...

Prediction:

Winnipeg 2

Pittsburgh 3 (S/O) - F

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