This is the most important game of the year.
Yea I know...that lost it's fizz a while ago.
But it's true now like it was every other time I said it. this game, and potentially the game next Friday in D.C., is the most important game of the Winnipeg Jets season. It's a potential 4 point game that would pretty much make or break the chances of the local boys making the playoffs. The Capitals sit in 8th spot 4 points ahead of the Jets. Both teams will be playing their 71st game of the year and both teams very much need to win to improve their positions for the post-season. Washington can probably afford a loss more than Winnipeg can though. An outright loss would see the gap between the Caps and Jets go to 6 points with 11 to play. I know I gave up a while ago on the Jets making the playoffs, but I would have to give up again because that's a huge task to ask. Unless of course they would win in regulation in Washington. That would help.
But again the task at hand is beating Washington TONIGHT
Winnipeg is 2-1-1 against Washington this year while the Capitals are a measly...2-1-1 against the Jets. I don't see the season series coming into play for the tie breaker though, as Washington has 34 regulation or overtime wins to the Jets' 29. So a tie is not good enough. the Jets will need to finish ahead of the Caps.
It's time the
Dale Hunter became the Hunted.
Washington is coming off a come from behind win that saw the Islanders completely crap the bed on Tuesday as a 4-1 Isles lead became a 5-4 Caps win in shootout. It was a most unfortunate result for Jets fans not named TJCAPS, as our division rivals have been hot as of late. maybe that's because they all got to play Toronto while we played Vancouver. Who knows...
Keys to the Game:
- At press time there was nothing more than speculation about the severity of any injury suffered by Alex Ovechkin in practice yesterday, but Head Coach Dale Hunter went on record saying he'd be playing tonight and that he was "fine". The Washington Times would lead you to believe otherwise. If I'm Coach Claude Noel I still prep the boys as though he were going to be in the lineup. And it's not as if these teams are unfamiliar to each other. But Ovechkin is an entirely unique entity in the NHL that one has to play against him differently than any other star...aside from #87. And no, I'm not talking about Brashear or Turgeon.
- All 4 forward lines scored for Winnipeg on Wednesday night. If that happens tonight, I'd say that the chances of winning are once again pretty high. Because...ya know...4 goals is good and stuff.
- If Eric Fehr can continue to show that he can contribute he just might get himself a contract offer in the offseason. Whether or not that's from the Jets is another matter all together, but the goal was a huge monkey off the Winkler native's back in front of a very happy home crowd. You know the fans are happy for you when you make it 3-0 but get a huge roar and a long drawn out standing ovation after the goal. Hopefully there's more to come on that front.
- Mike Green will play against the Jets for the first time this season, even though this is the 5th tilt between the two squads. He missed the other 4 games due to his repeatedly injured groin. He is currently coming off a 3 game suspension for braining Brett Connolly of the Lightning. The former 30 goal scorer has not been healthy the past couple of seasons, but is still a potential offensive threat on the blue line for the Caps.
- Speaking of offensively minded defensemen that have 3 goals on the year: Zach Bogosian may or may not play tonight. If he's in I'd scratch Randy Jones, who has fewer assists in 34 games than Clitty does in 4.
Jets (GP 70 33-29-8 72 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 -- #17 Eric Fehr
#14 Tim Stapleton -- #80 Nik Antropov -- #20 Antti Miettinen
#39 Tobias Enstrom -- #33 Dustin Byfuglien
#6 Ron Hainsey -- #24 Grant Clitsome
#5 Mark Stuart -- #12 Randy Jones
#31 Ondrej Pavelec
Again, once I get word on the status of Bogo I will update accordingly.
Capitals (GP 70 38-28-6 78 PTS)
#8 Alex Ovechkin -- #21 Brooks Laich -- #90 Marcus Johansson
#25 Jason Chimera -- #85 Mathieu Perreault -- #28 Alexander Semin
#26 Matt Hendricks -- #83 Jay Beagle -- #20 Troy Brouwer
#42 Joel Ward -- #23 Keith Aucoin -- #28 Mike Knuble
#74 John Carlson -- #27 Karl Alzner
#55 Jeff Schultz -- #52 Mike Green
#81 Dmitri Orlov -- #6 Dennis Wideman
#29 Tomas Vokoun
Green is back...someone has to leave. I'll update when I know. Also just a presumption that Vokoun gets the nod. Neuvirth was less than solid against the Islanders. That should tell you something.
Player to boo mercilessly: Ovechkin. Because it's fun. I don't know why it's fun, it just is.
Prediction: Winnipeg 4-2 Washington. I actually put thought into this...so the scoreline is definitely going to be something else.