The All-Star break is upon us - or darn near anyways - and the battered Winnipeg Jets will be looking forward to some R&R. There is one more piece of business on the docket though. Tonight the Jets face off against a much improved Columbus Blue Jackets team and they hope to end on a high note.
Tonight's game can be seen on SportsNet1 or heard on at TSN 1290. Puck drop is set for 8:00PM
Keys to the Game
Can we get a Trouboost!? Jacob Trouba may be back! Trouba may be back! Trouba! May be! Back!! Trouba!!!! Trouba!!!! Trouba may be back! This is big news, guys. Trouba is set to step back into the lineup in place of an injured Mark Stuart. This helps the Jets two-fold, first it give the Jets one of their top three defenders back. Secondly, it breaks apart a Mark Stuart - Jay Harrison pairing that was getting slammed routinely. The pairings aren't set in stone, but three legit pairs is an exciting possibility.
Ride the save wave. A large component of the Winnipeg Jets' recent success (5-1-1) has been goaltending. It hasn't been on one guy either. Ondrej Pavelec has picked his game back up and Michael Hutchinson has continued to truck along. This trend cannot end. Goalies are always important and they could be especially vital with a Vezina tender at the other ender.
Avoid the CBJ PP. The Jets take a ton of penalties. Waaaaaaaay too many penalties. Tonight they face a Columbus team whose powerplay ranks third in the NHL, converting on 25% of their chances. If they convert at that rate and the Jets take their usual PIMs, they'll be spotting Columbus as much as two goals. Please don't do that.
Columbus Blue Jackets
Three on three. The Blue Jackets rely heavily on three players to produce offense. Ryan Johansen, Nick Foligno and Scott Hartnell carry the load in a big way with 43, 42 and 28 points respectively. No other forward has more than 15 on the year. The challenge for Columbus is that these guys will largely go head-to-head versus Andrew Ladd, Bryan Little and Blake Wheeler and that is no easy task. CBJ will need their big guns to play well tonight.
Bring it from the back end. While the Blue Jackets forwards are struggling to score, they are getting production from their blue line. Three of their top six point producers (and 4 of their top eight) are blue liners. If the top line is blanked, Columbus will need their D to activate and score some more.
Goalie Bob. When goals are hard to come by, the goalie needs to come up big. Columbus has a tender capable of stealing games and they may need him to do just that.
Player to Boo Mercilessly
Jack Johnson - because I don't like his music.
Jets 4, Columbus 1