The Winnipeg Jets host one of the best - and hottest - teams in the NHL tonight at the MTS Centre. Game time is 7 PM. TV - TSN3. Radio - TSN 1290 AM.
The Winnipeg Jets are still without the services of three of their top players - Dustin Byfuglien, Bryan Little, and Mathieu Perreault. Beating the Blues without "Big Buff" in the lineup is going to be particularly challenging.
At this time of the season, every game is a big game, unless you're tracking guys named Connor or Jack instead of a berth in Lord Stanley's tourney. The Western conference teams are giving their fans heart palpitations, as Vancouver, Calgary, Los Angeles, Minnesota and Winnipeg do battle for 2 Pacific division playoff spots, and 2 wild card positions. One of those teams will lose out in this game of musical chairs.
Even the Blues have some "skin" in their games still, as they battle with Nashville for first place in the Central division, and for home ice advantage through the playoffs.
Keys to the Game
- Stick to their own game plan. The Jets win when they limit their opposition's good scoring chances. There's no reason to depart from that game plan, against a top team like the Blues.
- Goaltending. For a Winnipeg victory, Ondrej Pavelec must bring his "A" game again - for a full 60 minutes, and probably overtime and a shootout as well.
- Play big and play fast, but keep your stick away from their hands and skates. Don't give the Blues the "easy dive", and don't feed the zebras any easy calls.
St. Louis Blues
- Given their success - recently, and for the entire year - the Blues should continue with their normal game plan. But St. Louis may want to pay particular attention to the Jets' line of Blake Wheeler, Mark Scheifele, and Drew Stafford. This line has accounted for a significant portion of the Jets' recent goal production. Shutting them down should be a key for a Blues' victory.
- Score first. The Jets have been very effective when they get out to an early lead. Just ask the San Jose Sharks.
- Don't let the Jets get an edge. The Blues must not allow the Jets to take the momentum through a strong physical game. Just ask the Los Angeles Kings.
Player to boo mercilessly
Not so much a boo, as a potential chant - Ryan Reaves. There's so much potential material there, with the advertisements he did with "slick Rick" Ralph.
The Winnipeg Jets "find a way to win" (quoting Ken Dryden), and defeat the powerful Blues in overtime.