The Winnipeg Jets have had it tough as of late. Paul Maurice's press conference after the loss to the St. Louis Blues on Tuesday night was the shortest I've seen...shortness of answers, that is. On Wednesday, the team shipped struggling winger/ center Adam Lowry to the Manitoba Moose, with no real time frame on his return to the main club (Xmas roster freeze begins this weekend.). On Thursday, the Jets brought up Matt Halischuk and Joel Armia. The Jets haven't been playing bad hockey, It's just the fundamentals and details of the game are in need of adjusting. But it's the lack of attention to the basics that have the Jets acting as the division's cellar dwellers.
The New York Rangers, on the other hand are coming off a Thursday night loss to the the Minnesota Wild, who had their newly minted waiver gain in Jarret Stoll against his old team. The Rangers are also expecting Derek Stepan and Kevin Klein to make their return from injury against the Jets, so this will make an otherwise good team into a better team as the puck drops.
Keys to the game: Winnipeg Jets:
In Paul Maurice's media scrum on Thursday afternoon, he mentioned that a team can be successful if it has a good penalty kill, and can get away with not having a good power play. This is true. Taking penalties and giving up one or two goals per game will kill any chance of winning a game, and it goes hand in hand with discipline. If you have a lousy penalty kill and bad discipline, you will not win in the National Hockey league...you are essentially beating yourself. The team worked on this on Thursday, so expect to see a renewed focus going forward.
Keys to the game: New York Rangers:
The Rangers, in a way, have been playing the same type of game the Winnipeg Jets have been experiencing as of late. A bit up and down. Sometimes, they seem to beat themselves. Since the beginning of December, the Rangers have beat the Senators in regulation, lost in regulation to Colorado and Vancouver, and lost in over time to the Islanders and Calgary. This week, the team has won against the Oilers, and lost against the Minnesota Wild last night. Tightening up overall team play is the major concern, and the return of a few key players should help with that.
Player to Boo Mercilessly:
Henrik Lundqvist had to come into last night's contest against the Wild as starter Antti Raanta had to be helped from the ice due to taking a puck to the melon. As a result, King Henrik will less than fresh coming into tonight's matchup.
The Jets will take advantage of a tired Rangers team and win 4-2. Ladd, Wheeler, Perreault, and Copp scoring.