As the trade deadline approaches, we're rapidly approaching the point where the playoff implications of each game are amplified. And as the Winnipeg Jets head into the home stretch, they've lost seven of their last nine games.
After pulling off one of the biggest trades in recent memory, the Jets fell 3-1 in Nashville last game. Tonight the Jets take on the Detroit Red Wings, in Detroit. The reinforcements have had a few more days to settle in, and the Jets will be looking to get back on the right track and further secure a playoff spot.
Michael Hutchinson will be getting the start in net for the Jets. For the Red Wings, Jimmy Howard will make his first start since being activated from Injured Reserve.
For those of you in the Jets' home region, you can catch the game on Hockey Night in Canada.
Keys to the Game
Stay Alert. The Red Wings have goal-scoring threats up and down the lineup, and a lot of talent that can play a fairly quiet game then surface to make a big play when you least expect it. The Jets will need to be aware of who is on the ice at all times and not give the Red Wings those little lulls in the game that lead to a Datsyuk-ian or Nyqvist-ian highlight.
Make Howard Work. This will be Jimmy Howard's first game back from a groin injury, and the Jets ought to make him work hard. Make him move. Make him dodge, dip, duck, dive, and dodge to see the puck coming his way. He might be healthy, but that doesn't mean he's back in game form.
Detroit Red Wings
Play the matchups. Playing at home with last change, the Red Wings ought to be able to find half a dozen shifts where the Jets' fourth line gets tossed on the ice first. That's half a dozen opportunities to counter with Tatar-Datsyuk-Helm or Nyqvist-Zetterberg-Abdelkader, and that's a matchup that the Red Wings are going to win nine times out of ten.
Power Play Scoring. As is tradition, the Jets are once again one of the most penalized teams in the NHL. In fact, their 232 times shorthanded is head and shoulders above 2nd place Pittsburgh (194). If the Red Wings can spend a good chunk of the game on the power play, they've got to like their chances.
Player to Boo Mercilessly
Daniel Cleary. He should probably call it a career at this point, and maybe he just needs a little push.
I'm not sure if I believe it, but I'm hoping that the Jets play with a sense of urgency in this one.
Red Wings 3