I think it pretty much goes without saying that tonight's game is important; really, we could probably say the same about every game for the remainder of March (and hopefully those in April, too). The Buffalo Sabres stampede into town fresh off a 5-3 victory over the Vancouver Canucks, thanks to a couple of goals from feared (for his cost) sniper Ville Leino. The peripheral perks for the Jets are there: an opposing team on their third game in five nights, facing the Jets in the friendly confines of the MTS Centre. Yet the concerns include the fact that the Sabres have been red-hot over their last 10 (6-2-2) and that their PDO is right about where it should be. Here's hoping the Jets substantial advantage in Fenwick Close (10th in the league to Buffalo's 27th) carries the day.
Keys to the Game, lineups, and player numbers after the jump.
Keys to the Game
- Shots, as per usual; the pucks have been going in lately, and that has maximized the results of a team that's played the shot battle well this season. Be the goaltender Ryan Miller or Jhonas Enroth, it doesn't really matter (their performance this year have been pretty close), we just need to continue to give ourselves more chances than the other guys.
- Stay out of the box. Don't let the PP efficiency numbers fool you - Buffalo boasts the 10th best powerplay in the league (by Shots-for per 60) and we're 17th on the kill (by Shots-against per 60).
- Keep the forward lines together. Promote some chemistry. It looks like the players are getting comfortable with one another, and I'm sure Noel doesn't want to disrupt that.
Jets (GP 66 31-27-8 70 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
#6 Ron Hainsey -- #24 Grant Clitsome
#5 Mark Stuart -- #12 Randy Jones
#31 Ondrej Pavelec
Notes: No Boogie tonight, as he apparently aggravated his injury and will be out for a week. We get our first look at Mr. Clitsome, paired with Hainsey tonight, so I'm guessing Jones and Stu will be the 3rd pairing.
Sabres (GP 65 30-27-8 68 PTS)
#26 Thomas Vanek -- #9 Derek Roy -- #29 Jason Pominville
#63 Tyler Ennis -- #19 Cody Hodgson -- #21 Drew Stafford
#23 Ville Leino -- #42 Nathan Gerbe -- #36 Patrick Kaleta
#37 Matt Ellis -- #22 Brad Boyes -- #78 Corey Tropp
#3 Jordan Leopold -- #57 Tyler Myers
#52 Alexander Sulzer -- #10 Christian Ehrhoff
#6 Mike Weber -- #44 Andrej Sekera
#30 Ryan Miller
Notes: Miller has been playing very well lately, and has been a big part of their recent success. It should be a good matchup for our offence, which has similarly caught fire.
Player to Boo Mercilessly: Patrick Kaleta, as per usual. If you don't know by now, you might not be familiar with the NHL.
Prediction: Jets 2, Sabres 1. If we can minimize the mistakes, this could be a low-scoring affair.