After a 5 game slide that left many fans, players and coaches alike looking for more out of their team, the Winnipeg Jets showed up to play on Monday night in front of the home crowd and gave them something to cheer about in a 5-2 win over the Tampa Bay Lightning.
That's all fine and dandy, but now there are bigger fish to fry.
Because cruising into town comes the big red machine: the Washington Capitals. The only division rivals we have yet to play thus far, Washington looks to be a legitimate contender. Which means we can be that much more proud of the Jets when we beat them. That won't be an easy task though, as this team features some high quality players in Alexander Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstron and Tomas Vokoun among others. They also have Alexander Semin, who secretly wishes he were Sid the Kid. So the team does have some weapons that the Jets will have to keep in check. They also have pretty decent depth, so it's not just a matter of shutting down the top line like you can to a Tampa Bay.
The Capitals are coming into this game coming off what was a goaltending clinic by both Vokoun and Pekka Rinne that became a 1-0 Caps lead until Nashville tied 28 seconds later. And with 25 seconds left Nashville took the lead and promptly added an insurance empty letter 5 seconds later. It was a sudden and uncharacteristic collapse by the Capitals that they will surely be looking to bounce back from. But if the Jets play anywhere near the level they played on Monday, that might be easier said than done.
Keys to the Game, Line Ups and Player numbers after THE JUMP
Keys to the Game:
- Do it again. Asides from an ill-timed pinch from Byfuglien (is there an echo in here) that was a very solid performance on Monday night that the Jets should strive to repeat.
- Ovechkin: Anybody that says he's slumping means that he's playing like a superstar instead of a phenom. He has 14 points in 16 games. Don't let the numbers fool you, or he'll crush you like a bug with his Mr.Big bar.
- Injuries: The only concerns that I have for this game are that Jim Slater is good to go. Because he played lights out good on Monday, doing everything you can ask of a third liner. On the other side of the ice, Mike Green is not in Winnipeg for the Capitals as he is experiencing a sore groin.
- Special teams: This song is getting old, but the Jets have to take fewer penalties. Even if they ARE phantom calls against Steve Stamkos.
- Goaltending: Tomas Vokoun is looking like a steal for the Caps. He has played quite well this season for a modest contract. Speaking of modest contracts, unless Noel is starting Pavelec for the 11th straight game, look for Chris Mason between the pipes.
Jets (GP 18 6-9-3 15 PTS)
#9 Evander Kane -- #18 Bryan Little -- #8 Alexander Burmistrov
#16 Andrew Ladd --#80 Nik Antropov -- #13 Kyle Wellwood
#15 Tanner Glass -- #19 Jim Slater -- #22 Chris Thorburn
#41 Jason Jaffray -- #14 Tim Stapleton -- #26 Blake Wheeler
#29 Johnny Oduya -- #39 Dustin Byfuglien
#5 Mark Stuart -- #4 Zach Bogosian
#44 Arturs Kulda -- #36 Mark Flood
#31 Ondrej Pavelec
The only roster move being made as of this moment is Mason in net. Though things can change, like we saw Monday. Jim Slater is the most likely candidate to completely squirrel with things as he is questionable for tomorrows game. I'm hoping his injury isn't too bad, as he managed to put up the 5th largest amount of ice time on Monday, but was forced to miss Tuesday's Skills Competition due to his injury.
UPDATE: Bogo and AC are back in tonight, Mason will still be on the bench because it looks like Noel is going to play Pavelec until he plays badly.
Capitals (GP 16, 10-5-1 21 PTS)
Before I begin I would like to thank Coach Bruce Boudreau for making this the easiest away lines I have ever done. His lack of willingness to juggle lines during games made this so much easier for me.
#8 Alexander Ovechkin -- #19 Nicklas Backstrom -- #20 Troy Brouwer
#25 Jason Chimera --#21 Brooks Laich -- #28 Alexander Semin
#50 Cody Eakin -- #90 Marcus Johansson -- #42 Joel Ward
#26 Matt Hendricks -- #15 Jeff Halpern -- #22 Mike Knuble
#44 Roman Hamrlik -- #27 Karl Alzner
#4 John Erskine -- #6 Dennis Wideman
#55 Jeff Schultz -- #74 John Carlson
#30 Michal Neuvirth
Ovechkin has taken 120 shots so far this season, with 39 of those being blocked and 27 missing the target. This can be seen as part of the reason his production has been lower because 13.0% of the shots that have found there target have gone in, which is above average for Ovie.
Player to boo without mercy: Alexander Semin. His ego is writing cheques his body can't cash.
Prediction: Winnipeg 4-2 Washington. If the Jets play anything like they did on Monday, this is a winnable game. That goes for the remaining 64 games on the schedule as well.