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Preview: Winnipeg Jets vs Columbus Blue Jackets

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Claude Noel is in desperation mode and for better or for worse, the Winnipeg Jets roster we see tonight will be unlike any other we've seen before.

Russell LaBounty-USA TODAY Sport

The Winnipeg Jets have lost four games in a row. Coach Noel is (likely) on the hot seat and Dustin Byfuglien will be test driving a new seat on the bench. Times are desperate. This isn't the case for Columbus. While they have struggled as a team for much of the season, the team is getting healthy and they have been playing a little better of late.

Still, both teams are on the outside of the playoffs looking in and both would like to see growth from their young talent.

Keys to the Game

Winnipeg Jets

Moving forward: Dustin Byfuglien will (probably) be starting the game at right wing. This will be a large departure for him and a very different look from Jets fans. Outside of one short burst in the postseason Byfuglien has never had a huge impact as a forward. Will this change or will it result in a mess - much like last year. The Jets have to hope for the former if they want to win this game.

The last line of defence: Claude Noel and Charlie Huddy have tried just about everything as it pertains to Winnipeg Jets defensive pairings. Without Byfuglien, we will see something new and on paper (shot metrics), the new pairings are going to be a disaster.

Tobias Enstrom has struggled more with Zach Bogosian than any of the other right handed regulars.

Mark Stuart has also been Jacob Trouba's worst partner through today as well. We will see this too.

...and these are likely to be the Jets' top two pairings. As Jets fans, all we can do is hope for a reversal of fortune from these pairings, otherwise this may be a long night.

Send us your tired, your poor: The poor poor players of Columbus will be playing on the second night of back to back games and be enduring a nearly 2 hour flight on route to Winnipeg. They may not be in tip top shape. If this is the case it would behoove the Jets players to push the pace early.

Columbus Blue Jackets

Horton Hears a Who: After starting the season on IR, Nathan Horton is back. Well, he isn't really back. His tenure as a member of the Columbus Blue Jackets is just beginning. In 4 games played he has played he has 1 goal, 1 assist and has worked his way up to more than 18 minutes a game. The Blue Jackets will need Horton to round into form ASAP if the want to make a playoff push.

JMFJ: Jack Johnson is a beast of an athlete, but he is a horrible hockey player. He is everything Dustin Byfuglien is supposed to be with a little bit more liability. Columbus will need to do what they can to hide him or hope for a strong showing if they wanna keep pucks out of their net.

Tyutin Their Horn: While Jack Johnson, Ryan Murray and James Wisniewski are big names, Fedor Tyutin is arguably their best player on the back end. The Winnipeg Jets roster is in shambles and while this should make things easy for Columbus - it also makes line matching a challenge. Identifying the Jets' strongest line and matching them with Fedor will be key for Columbus in the matchup.

Player to Boo Mercilessly:

Nathan Horton - Horton Hears a Boo!

Prediction:

Jets 3

CBJ 2