The struggling Winnipeg Jets host the Colorado Avalanche this evening in Winnipeg, in a divisional matchup that's sure to be exciting. Jets-Avalanche games usually have a lot of goals, so buckle up your seatbelts.
The Jets come into this game having not won since January 21, nearly three weeks ago. They desperately need a win, and a home game against the Avalanche is just about the best opportunity they could ask for. The Avalanche, for their part, have been shut out in back-to-back games and will surely be looking to put a few pucks in the net today.
Roster notes: Evander Kane is out for the Jets and Dustin Byfuglien is expected to slot in at forward. Semyon Varlamov will get the start for the Avalanche, while it looks (but is not yet confirmed) that Paul Maurice and the Jets will counter with Michael Hutchinson.
Keys to the Game
Goals, goals goals. The Jets have had an awful lot of trouble putting pucks in the net during the course of their losing streak; they've scored two goals or fewer in five straight games. With little goal support, they've basically been requiring their goaltenders to pitch a shutout for the win, and that's not a reasonable ask. The Jets need to get lots of pucks to the net and put a few pucks in.
Carrying on without Kane. Regardless of how you feel about him off the ice, there is no denying that Kane is a good player on the ice. He has basically carried the Jets' third line on his own, and replacing that ability will not be simple. The Jets have shuffled Dustin Byfuglien back to forward, but will that be sufficient?
Getting the monkey off your back. Goals are a funny thing. They seem to come in bunches. Can the Avalanche, with all of their young offensive firepower, open up the floodgates? With the Jets desperate for a win and playing at home, the Avalanche just might need to in order to win this one.
Varly Time. Despite a rough go oi in the team's last few outings, Semyon Varlamov has been fantastic, having let in just 4 goals in his last 4 games. If Varlamov can keep that up, the Avalanche will be very tough to beat.
Player to Boo Mercilessly
Semyon Varlamov, because he's probably the only thing keeping the Avalanche respectable.
The Jets have seemed to have the Avalanche's number a little bit this season. Jets win.