...because we're great at breaking slumps. There is some talk about playing the "spoiler" for our storied rivals, but the only spoiler here would be giving us a lower pick in the draft. We're certainly committed to shutting players down, as we pretty much have had no choice in the cases of Tanner Glass and Kyle Wellwood...Dustin Byfuglien's pretty dinged up, too. Anyway, the only things that matter with this game are our draft position, our "pride", and our opportunity to play some young guys, so let's tank this mother.
Keys to the Game, lineups, and predictions after the jump.
Keys to the Game
- To be honest, I'd like to not let Kris Versteeg score a hat trick and a playmaker against us. The guy has scored around a quarter of his points this year against us, so he's had his share already. Let's let Mike Weaver score like 50 goals, I like him more.
- If the Panthers can pull this off, they'll clinch a playoff berth for the first time since 1999-2000. Between them and the Ottawa Senators are two teams that performed quite admirably above expectations. Good for them. Let's be that team next year.
- The sad thing is that I suspect we wouldn't be playing nearly as many of our young players if there weren't two injuries to our regulars. Patrice Cormier, come on down.
- I want Spencer Machacek to score points, then we need to shut 'er down and tank this one right. Do it, do it.
Jets (GP 79 36-34-9 81 PTS)
#16 Andrew Ladd -- #18 Bryan Little -- #26 Blake Wheeler
#9 Evander Kane -- #8 Alexander Burmistrov -- #20 Antti Miettinen
#46 Spencer Machacek -- #19 Jim Slater -- #22 Chris Thorburn
#14 Tim Stapleton -- #28 Patrice Cormier -- #80 Nik Antropov
#39 Tobias Enstrom -- #33 Dustin Byfuglien
#6 Ron Hainsey -- #4 Zach Bogosian
#5 Mark Stuart -- #24 Grant Clitsome
#31 Ondrej Pavelec
There's really no need to wear out Ondrej Pavelec any further; he's obviously frustrated about his and the team's season. It's very likely that Byfuglien gets shut down, but no info yet. I'm tentatively putting Clitsome there, but it could be Jones as well. Anything goes with those forward lines, and logic would suggest that we see more Machacek, Cormier, and the 2nd Line, but when did logic have anything to do with it? UPDATE: A prime case where logic doesn't win out, as Ondrej Pavelec is apparently playing tonight.
Panthers (GP 79 37-25-17 91 PTS)
#14 Tomas Fleischmann -- #9 Stephen Weiss -- #19 Scottie Upshall
#8 Wojtek Wolski -- #18 Shawn Matthias -- #32 Kris Versteeg
#20 Sean Bergenheim -- #57 Marcel Goc -- #26 Mikael Samuelsson
#16 Marco Sturm -- #10 John Madden -- #82 Tomas Kopecky
#52 Jason Garrison -- #51 Brian Campbell
#7 Dmitry Kulikov -- #43 Mike Weaver
#44 Erik Gudbranson -- #55 Ed Jovanovski
#60 Jose Theodore
Will Florida play the hot hand in Clemmensen, or go with a guy who's had an impressive year in Jose Theodore? I don't know, but they were willing to put Clemmensen in against the Red Wings, so after an impressive showing and another important game to play, I'm guessing Clemmensen again. UPDATE: Theodore's in for tonight. Doesn't really change anything for us.
Player to boo mercilessly: Since Versteeg is poised to destroy us...Kris Versteeg.
Prediction: Florida 3, Winnipeg 1