Hello darkness my old friend...
For some of us, the Vancouver Canucks were the logical choice to cheer for in that 15 year absence of NHL hockey in the Peg. The local Manitoba Moose squad was the farm team of the Canucks from 2001 until the end of last season, and many players who went on to become NHLers took their turn at the farm in Winnipeg. Kesler, Burrows, Bieksa and Schneider all come to mind, and there are many, many others.
I'd be lying if I said I stopped following the Canucks the second that TNSE announced they had purchased the Atlanta Thrashers. No....of course not. I cut the cord the second they lost to Boston in the Stanley Cup Finals :).
Now, as a Canadian Non-Torontonian team, I will still cheer on the Nucks when the post season begins. It's what I do. I mean, that nasty streak of no Cups going to Canadian teams has to end, and I don't really care who does it...as long as it's not Toronto.
Alright, enough of the sentimental gobbledy gook, there's a game to win!
Personally, I don't think losing this game would be that great of a loss, as the Canucks are one of the top teams in the league. But they've been slumping a bit as of late, with their top players unable to produce on the scoresheet. of course, Vancouver has oodles of depth so it doesn't seem as bad, but the Sedins and Kesler have gone quiet of late and I would hate to be the team they snap out of that funk against.
The Jets need to find a way to win away from the MTS Centre if they plan on making the playoffs. It's just that simple. Winning in Vanoucver and Calgary would go an incredibly long way towards securing a post-season berth, and I am definitely looking for the Jets to pick up points in these 2 games.
The Jets are coming off an 8 game homestand that saw them go 5-1-2 and pick up 12 of a potential 16 points. Their most recent effort saw them beat the Sabres, who have been on a roll of late, by a score of 3-1.
The Canucks are coming off of back to back home losses, the first being against those pesky Sabres and the most recent being a 5-2 loss at the hands of the Dallas Stars on Tuesday. They've shown that they can be vulnerable even when on home ice, so I'd be looking for the Jets to take advantage of that tonight at Rogers Arena...which they're trying to nickname "The Phone Booth". Get lost, that was ours first.
Keys to the Game, Player Numbers and Lineups coming your way after THE JUMP
Keys to the Game:
- Win on the road. I know it sounds so simple, but the Jets road record is just 11-17-4 compared to their home record of 21-10-4. People will say "Oh, the refs are influenced by the home crowds to call more penalties". That's fals...and also not the issue. It's how the Jets perform when they have the PP that's the issue. The Jets have the top ranked home powerplay in the NHL at 24.8% but are ranked 27th in road powerplays at 12.6%. Woof. That's a big difference. They also rank dead last in the league in powerplay opportunities away from the MTS Centre at just 87 in 32 games.
- Grant Clitsome had a strong first game as a Jet. let's hope that trend continues and we never find out why he was deemed expendable by the Blue Jackets.
- Ondrej Pavelec looks like he will be shouldering a lot of the load as we grind down these last games before the playoffs begin. I still foresee Iron Mason getting some action, especially where back to backs are concerned, such as tomorrow night in Calgary. Depends on how fresh Pavelec is though, as the Jets DO have 4 days off following this little back to back.
- Keep the Sedins Silent. And off the powerplay. Because waking a sleeping dragon is just plain dumb.
- From what I heard on twitter, the Canucks have opted to go with reigning William M. Jennings Trophy winner Cory Schneider as opposed to reigning William M. Jennings trophy winner Roberto Luongo in net tonight. I'm ok with that. After all, who better to exploit the weaknesses of the former Moose than an organization that is bound to have buckets full of his game film piled up in a closet somewhere.
Jets (GP 67 32-27-8 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 -- #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
Zach Bogosian will not be playing in either contest in Western Canada, which is most unfortunate.
Canucks (GP 67 41-18-8 90 PTS)
#22 Daniel Sedin -- #33 Henrik Sedin -- #14 Alexandre Burrows
#20 Chris Higgins -- #17 Ryan Kesler -- #7 David Booth
#9 Zack Kassian -- #26 Samuel Pahlsson -- #22 Maxim Lapierre
#21 Mason Raymond -- #27 Manny Malhotra -- #36 Jannik Hansen
#2 Dan Hamhuis -- #3 Kevin Bieksa
#23 Alexander Edler -- #6 Sami Salo
#8 Chris Tanev -- #5 Marc-Andre Gragnani
#35 Cory Schneider
From what I've heard, Luongo is terrified of Jets and refuses to come out from under his bed until they leave town. I heard it on a message board...it has to be true.
UPDATE: Rome out for Tanev. Unfortunate for the Manitoba boy. Everything asides from the Sedin line gets juggled about.
Player to boo mercilessly: Zack Kassian and/or Gragnani, just to reaffirm the knowledge that Buffalo got the better deal at the deadline.
Prediction: Winnipeg 2-3 Vancouver (SO). i'd be ok with a point, not gonna lie. i'd love to ooze optimism here, but I'm just not that sold on the Jets capabilities of winning on the road. If this were at MTS Centre i'd be saying jets all the way.