Winnipeg…check that, Canada is sitting and looking on and waiting with anticipation as a new era has begun in Winnipeg. Everybody readily admits that the Jets have the talent (on the top end at least) to roll with the big boys but they have yet to show the drive or the consistency to maintain it. With the firing of Claude Noel on Sunday and the introduction of Paul Maurice as head coach, the fan base had a breath of fresh air breathed into them. Everybody sat on pins and needles to see what the rejuvenated Jets would look like and they were pleasantly surprised. The Jets came out and played a complete game and looked like they had fun in the process of beating the Coyotes 5-1 on Monday night.
Tonight is a new night though. No longer do the players feel the need to make a good first impression. No longer do the players get to feed off of the energy that a rejuvenated fan base can provide. The Jets are going into a hostile (about as hostile as a university library) environment in Calgary. The Jets are playing a team that they should beat and that has been a recipe for disaster this year. The Paul Maurice Jets are waging a battle that the Claude Noel Jets struggled with.
Tonight marks the second match-up between the Jets and the Flames. The Flames beat the Jets 5-4 in a shootout on November 18. That game was one arguably the beginning of the end for Claude Noel. The Jets have gone 10-13-2 since that loss and slid well out of a playoff spot. They are rolling into town though to play an ice cold Flames that has lost 12 of their previous 15 games. This would seem like a good match-up for the Jets but it also seems a little bit to resemble their kryptonite. It's worth noting the neither Devin Setoguchi nor Evander Kane will draw into the lineup tonight. Kane has an deep cut in his hand and Setoguchi has the flu. Eric Tangradi will draw into the lineup for Setoguchi.
Keys to the Game
- Continue to ride the wave that began on Monday night. The Jets appeared to gain some real emotional momentum and they need to build on that or it could all cave in on them again.
- Dustin Byfuglien has had a really nice two games at forward bringing a nice physicality to the front end while being a presence on the back end during the power play. If he can keep that up then things look good for the Jets against the Flames.
- Team defence is critical for this team. Players like Mark Stuart and Zach Bogosian have played awful defence at times and the net minders have had their personal struggles too. The best way to combat poor individual efforts is to play better as a unit. If they do this, then they should be able to beat the struggling Calgary Flames
- The Flames have allowed 22 goals in 7 games in 2014 and Karri Ramo and Reto Berra have combined for an .888 save percentage. That isn’t good enough. If the Flames want to start to win again, they will need better performances from their goalies.
- Jiri Hudler is on a 3 game point streak and he has scored 6 points in his last 6 games. He needs to do all he can to carry a team that has scored an abysmal 2.17 goals per game. If it were not for the lowly Sabres, that would be the worst in the NHL.
- This game is a battle of the two worst teams in the NHL at face-offs. The Flames have the advantage of last change and home ice advantage in the faceoff circle. They need to take advantage of this to give them every opportunity possible to control the possession game. If you don’t have the puck, you’re not going to win.
Player to Boo Mercilessly:
Let's go with Dennis Wideman. He should be booed for agreeing to sign long-term in Calgary. What a maroon.
Winnipeg Jets 5
Calgary Flames 2