Hello boys and girls!
Before I start the preview of tonight's game I'd like to do a little back tracking. The scene is December 13, 2011. The Minnesota Wild are surprisingly the best team in the NHL, having rattled off 7 straight wins. Everything was looking great for the boys from just south of the border.
disaster WINNIPEG struck!
Sure, a 2-1 win for the local boys may not have seemed to be a cataclysmic event. Once again the goaltending of the Wild kept them in a close game, but ultimately they fell short on the scoreboard. Not bad for an away game.
But consider this: since rolling into Winnipeg on that fateful December day those same Minnesota Wild that were on top of the league have amassed a record of 5-16-5. That's 5 wins in a 2 month span, which has seen them drop to 12th in the Western Conference and 21st overall.
And I bet you'll never guess who's 22nd overall...
THAT'S RIGHT! WINNIPEG!
While the Wild have two games in hand, our neighbours to the south are tied with us even at 58 points in the standings as both our squads are on the outside looking in at the playoffs.
This will be the 4th straight home game for the Wild, having last played on Tuesday against Anaheim. They have yet to get a point out of this home-stand, losing in regulation to Vancouver and Columbus as well as the Ducks. The Jets will look to keep that trend alive as road points are always nice, and when you play Boston tomorrow it's always good to try and make the most of opportunities such as beating up on your natural rivals!
Now the Jets aren't exactly a threatening team either, having just lost to the Islanders in an effort that can be deemed as punchless, despite having 38 shots on net. The effort is there, the offense isn't.
Here's hoping the Jets are the right type of offensive in Saint Paul tonight!
Keys to the Game, Player Numbers, Lineups and FUN(!) coming up after THE JUMP
Keys to the Game:
- I'm going to whine and complain about the powerplay again. You know it sucks when all 4 lines of forwards are practicing it at practice. That's pretty bad. I'd like them to appear to have a semblance of a system. And maybe have a right handed shot playing left point and a right handed shot playing left? So the one-timer option is there at least. I'm still suggesting Buff or another big player be in front of the net for a screen and rebounds. I'm shocking myself by saying this, but Laddy would be good for the job, as he is quite skilled at redirections. The Jets had 3 powerplays last game and managed just one shot. Gross.
- Mason may finally debut those fancy pads of his...or not...we'll see. but the rumblings are that Mason gets the nod tonight, while Ondrej Pavelec will tend the pipes tomorrow at home against Boston. Every start Mason gets is a chance to prove hsi worth, as the UFA to be is running out of chances to start as the season reaches it's twilight.
- The line of Kaner-Burmi-Welly looked dangerous on Tuesday. hopefully with more and more time to gel they can start producing. Because I like the zip and energy they bring as a combination.
- The Jets need to win the battles along the boards, especially in road games where their faceoff winning percentage is far worse than when they play in the friendly confines of the MTS Centre. Winning the turnover battle and establishing the cycle and setting up good shots through traffic would be nice.
- The Thorburn rule is no more, but the depth guys can still feel free to contribute on the scoreboard. If you look at the farm team, they win because they don't rely on any one player to put the puck in the net. Through 50 games Jason Jaffray leads the team in goals with 15, but they have 16 players with 5 goals or more. The Jets have 10. Ron Hainsey and Antti Miettinen have played a combined 59 games with no goals between them.
- I successfully predicted the outcome of the last Jets v Wild game, so I'd like to repeat (Spoiler Alert: I pick the Jets to win)
Jets (GP 58 26-26-6 58 PTS)
#16 Andrew Ladd -- #18 Bryan Little -- #26 Blake Wheeler
#9 Evander Kane -- #8 Alexander Burmistrov -- #13 Kyle Wellwood
#15 Tanner Glass -- #19 Jim Slater -- #22 Chris Thorburn
#14 Tim Stapleton -- #80 Nik Antropov -- #20 Antti Miettinen
#39 Tobias Enstrom -- #33 Dustin Byfuglien
#29 Johnny Oduya -- #6 Ron Hainsey
#5 Mark Stuart -- #12 Randy Jones
#50 Chris Mason
I can't find it right now, but I remember seeing something about Iron Mason getting the start.
Ed. Note: I know I've been using "Stone Mason" to describe him, but after seeing someone else describe him as Iron Mason it totally works. If you don't believe me check out his helmet. Besides, iron is stronger than stone.
Wild (GP 56, 25-23-8 58 PTS)
#10 Devin Setoguchi -- #9 Mikko Koivu -- #15 Dany Heatley
#7 Matt Cullen -- #21 Kyle Brodziak -- #25 Nick Johnson
#22 Cal Clutterbuck -- #26 Erik Christensen -- #27 Cody Almond
#55 Nick Schultz -- #46 Jared Spurgeon
#2 Mike Lundin -- #39 Nate Prosser
#32 Niklas Backstrom
Player to boo mercilessly: Marek Zidlicky. Because the Minnesota fans will likely join in. Which would be funny.
Prediction: Winnipeg 3-1 Minnesota. If people think I put a lot of time and effort into these predictions, you obviously don't know that at 2 in the morning I really couldn't care less what the score is as long as Winnipeg wins.