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Jets Return Home to Face Blues

The Jets return from a successful 4-2 road trip to face division rival Blues in a key matchup.

Tom Szczerbowski-US PRESSWIRE

The Winnipeg Jets are facing key injuries in D Zach Bogosian and LW Evander Kane yet have preserved and come out the stronger for it.  The Jets would go 4-2 on the longest road trip of the year.  Of all people, depth winger Chris Thorburn stepped up into a 2nd line role with actual success and the return of sensational rookie Jacob Trouba helped to covered the absences.

Recently acquired Jet Keaton Ellerby had this say on twitter about the return to the frigid peg.

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p>So apparently it&#39;s cold in the peg haha thanks for the heads up everyone <a href=";src=hash">#canadagoose</a> <a href=";src=hash">#longhairdontcare</a></p>&mdash; Keaton Ellerby (@ellerby88) <a href="">December 8, 2013</a></blockquote>

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Despite the frigid temperatures the Jets can expect a warm welcome back to MTS centre.  Jets have returned themselves to relevance in the playoff battle of the ultra competitive West.  While 8 points out of the last wildcard spot is a big hole, the Jets have quite a few West games left and these will prove critical.  The Jets no longer have any room for error, but hope still lives.

Meanwhile the Blues have been lukewarm of late with losses in 3 of their last 4. That streak includes Saturday's humbling 5-2 loss to Anaheim - where starter Jaroslav Halak was pulled after just 7:29 minutes played.  After their incredible start they suddenly look beatable.  Regardless of recent struggles, this is no easy win for the Jets. There is still plenty of talent up and down the St. Louis roster - enough for them to make the playoffs in each of the past two seasons.

Keys for the Jets

1.  Feed off the energy:  Back at home in Winnipeg the Jets need to use that their advantage.  They need to press the reeling Blues early and often to establish themselves.  A fast start is key for the Jets. They need to avoid the struggles that sometimes accompany a team returning home after a long road trip.

2. Powerplay: I don't think the Jets struggles on the powerplay need to be replayed here yet again but they are facing a PK that is just 10/15 (67%) in the past 4 games.  The need to take advantage of this and start converting on the PP in order to have some more success finding the W column.

3. Goaltending: The Jets are facing a team that is 4th in the league in close Fenwick.  They need Ondrej Pavelec to be solid to have a chance in this game as they are likely to be outshot by the deep and talented Blues.  This is a common one, but as an average team the Jets will often need goaltending to bail them out.

Keys for the Blues

1. Grind it out: Blues are big nasty and physical.  If they can establish their cycle game and grind the Jets they will make mistakes.  They need to get after the Jets and punish them physically.

2. Shoot the puck:  It's well known Jets goaltending is a weak spot, the Blues need to get traffic out from and pour shots on nets.  There will be rebounds to be had, and those can lead to the dirty garbage goals that the likes of David Backes, Alexander Steen, Vladimir Sobotka love to pour in.

3. Come out firing:  The Jets might be in a "relaxed" mode coming after a long road trip.  The Blues are just heading out on a road trip.  They need to come out firing to catch the Jets napping and get up early to sap the Jets of confidence.

Player to Boo Mercilously

Jaroslov Halak - Because Jets fans love to get on the goalies!


Jets 3

Blues 2