Preview: Jets hope to roundhouse kick the Rangers at MSG

Al Bello

With time ticking down towards the trade deadline, the Jets face the Rangers in NYC in the first half of a back to back series on the road that could see the Jets playoff hopes grow, or collapse in a hurry. The outcome of the game tonight, and tomorrow's game against the Isles will be telling as to how Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff will act on Deadline Day.

Game Preview:

Time is running out for the Winnipeg Jets hockey team to prove they belong in the post-season. The Jets squandered a glorious opportunity to do that this weekend when they were beaten in their own barn by the Carolina Hurricanes, who now trail Winnipeg by 4 points and have 3 games in hand. This little setback is just the latest disappointment on home ice, as the Jets have amassed a record of 8-9-0 at the MTS Centre this year.

However, the Jets are 10-7-2 on the road, and have had success against the Rangers this year with a pair of victories coming on February 26 and March 14. The Rangers have struggled elsewhere of late as well, dropping a 3-0 decision to the Canadiens on Saturday night. The points are there for the taking, and if the Jets want to stay in the hunt for the Southeast Division title they need to get maximum points out of this back to back, or face the prospect of losing teammates to trade.

3 games in 4 nights on the road will be big for the Jets. If they can get through these 3 games, they have 6 games in a row, including a 5 day break, at home where they will have to improve their performance. The home stand features 6 teams not currently in playoff position, so again the points will be there to be taken. In theory, the Jets could actually go 6-0-0 in that span if they avoid major letdowns. If not the season will be over with games left on the schedule.

Keys to the Game:

Winnipeg Jets.

  • Special teams: I'm getting as tired of repeating this as fans are of reading it, but the special teams are frequently a major reason why a team wins or loses. The Jets' penalty kill really showed up in the second period of Saturday's game as they were forced to kill penalty after penalty, holding off the Carolina PP despite the best efforts of Ghislain Hebert and Kelly Sutherland. The Jets were still terrible on their ownn PPs, going 0-for-3 and only generating one real scoring chance off the stick of Nik Antropov
  • Kane do attitude: Evander Kane is in a bit of a goal scoring slump with just 2 goals in his last 10 games. The Jets need their young winger to regain his scoring touch soon, as despite ranking 2nd in the league with 149 shots, the puck luck has not been there for the 21 year old.
  • #TeamWelly: Not a fan of Kyle Wellwood 's play on Saturday. Sloppy with the puck in the defensive zone and giving up to many turnovers, either with bad passing or getting muscled off the puck. Looked like a very uninspired effort from a player I have come to expect more from.

New York Rangers

  • King Henrik: Henrik Lundqvist has really let me down in fantasy hockey land this year. Despite putting up .922 save percentage and 2.19 GAA his win loss record is indicative of a Rangers team that has struggled this year, and the 13 losses in his stat column is 5th most in the league. Another stat of interest is that Lundqvist has allowed a power play goal in each of his last 5 games, which bodes well for the Jets if he gets the start in goal.
  • Gabbo/Rick: Marian Gaborik and Rick Nash are supposed to be the dominant leading scoeres of this team, but they have sputtered so far this season, with Gaborik scoring 9 goals and just 12 coming from Nash.
  • Not so special teams: Just like the Jets, the Rangers have struggled this season in both aspects of their special teams, as neither their power play or penalty kill have been great as they rank just ahead of the Jets in both categories.

Player to boo mercilessly:

Rick Nash, because he made the Blue Jackets decent.

Prediction:

Winnipeg 3 (S/O)

New York Rangers 2 - F

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