Well, I’m sorry to say, but I think it may be time to call a spade, a spade. I was leaning towards the hopeful side of things, much like the media in our little hamlet of Winterpeg, and as such, was hoping, wishing and praying the Winnipeg Jets somehow got things in order, and were able to pull off a playoff entry performance with 15 games left to go in the season.
Then the Pittsburgh Penguins came to town, with their Sestito n’ stuff.
Jets’ Wheeler called out the Pens’ Malkin early, and got those honor filled shenanigans out of the way.
Then the Sestito happened. First a spirited tilt with Jets’ Thorburn. But that seemed to flip a switch as he went from goon to terminator mode in a flash, and poor Jets’ Enstrom was in his sights. But, by the end of the first period, the damage was done, the Jets’ were rattled and distracted, and the Penguins had succeeded in getting them off their game and lose their focus.
In the second period, the Jets’ Hellebuyck was pulled after allowing 3 goals on 5 shots in 57 seconds, two of which were on the Pens’ power play.
The Pens’ were secure in their playoff ambitions. The Jets however, were not. They needed the two points the game provided. But in losing 7-4 to the Pens, this was signaled as a turning point in the Jets’ season and playoff aspirations, and the Jets are now unfortunately looking towards next year.
The Calgary Flames are, shall we say, red hot! Coming off their 8th win in a row against the Montreal Canadiens on Wednesday night, the Flames will be looking to add to their playoff point total.
Where: The Phone Booth, in snowy and cold Winnipeg, Manitoba
Who: Winnipeg Jets (30-32-6 for 66 pts) vs Pittsburgh Penguins (37-26-4 for 78 pts)
When: 6:00 pm CST
How: SN, TSN 1290, Sportsnet 960
Ehlers - Scheifele - Wheeler
Perreault - Little- Laine
Copp- Lowry - Armia
Matthias - Petan - Dano
Melchiori - Byfuglien
Morrissey - Trouba
Chariot - Postma
*Enstrom is out with a concussion and possible facial fractures after he was hit by the newly suspended Pittsburgh Goon Squad on Wednesday night.
*Thorburn is out after blocking a shot.
Calgary Flames Projected Lineup:
Gaudreau - Monahan - Ferland
Tkachuk - Backlund - Frolik
Versteeg - Bennett - Brouwer
Bouma - Stajan - Chaisson
Giordano - Wideman
Brodie - Engelland
Jokipakka - Andersson
*Both Hamilton and Stone were injured in their last game, so the defensive pairing are unclear at this time. As a result, the Flames have recalled Andersson.
Keys to the game:
Winnipeg Jets: Pace, puck possession, and player positioning.
Calgary Flames: Without Stone or Hamilton, the Flames will need to focus on the defensive part of their game.
- Has Hellebuyck finally solidified the #1 goaltender position? Again, we’re not sure. Hellebuyck seems to have lots of peaks and valleys in his game.
- Can the Winnipeg Jets manage to stay out of the penalty box? This kinda got out of hand again during their last game, didn’t it?
- What more can the Jets do? Focus on the little things or don’t sweat the small stuff. I’m not sure anymore.
Players to watch:
Winnipeg Jets: If Thorburn is indeed scratched, and Petan centers Dano and Copp, Petan should play like his pants are on fire and make the most of his opportunity and line mates.
Calgary Flames: Elliott, as he doesn’t want to give the net back to Johnson.
Participant worthy of your rejection and unclean wordplay: Keith’s kid.
Prediction: Jets 3-2