After a two game road trip to the eastern United States produced their first win of the season, the Winnipeg Jets return to the friendly confines of the MTS Centre to host the Pittsburgh Penguins tonight at 7:00PM CST.
A 4-1 drubbing over the Washington Capitals in which Claude Noel received solid performances from his key contributors was enough to get the Jets on the right track offensively after they managed only one goal per game in their first two outings.
Evander Kane was Winnipeg's primary standout on Tuesday, registering a powerplay goal as well as a beautiful helper on a Blake Wheeler marker.
The Pens are off to a hot start of their own, posting a 2-1-0 record while scoring eleven times in their three games although they look to rebound after a Wednesday night 5-2 beat down handed to them by the Toronto Maple Leafs. Pittsburgh has been lead early on by Russian superstar Evgeni Malkin who, at present, has five points on the campaign.
If we haven't clubbed you over the head enough with it yet, Sidney Crosby makes his first visit to the MTSC, escalating the value of tonight's ticket in city-wide Jets' STH to a projected first overall pick (e5). One can only hope that Crosby catches some of that wonderful Winnipeg hospitality we've become renowned for in this, his much anticipated deflowerment party.
Keys to the Game:
- D-UP!: A team that possesses the amount of skill the Penguins do, whether it be Sidney Crosby, EvgeniMalkin or James Neal is always a threat to score. The onus will be on Winnipeg's defense to keep the explosive trio off the scoreboard, or to at least limit the damage. However, with Ron Hainsey and Mark Stuart being extended past their personal limits, it could be a field day for the Pens.
- Unleash the Kane: Evander Kane has been one of Winnipeg's best players the past two games in a row and with that comes increased responsibility. There's no doubt he's Winnipeg's purest goal scorer and the Jets will need that to continue in a game that should feature high octane offense at both ends of the ice.
- Home Sweet Home: Last year, Winnipeg was an impressive 23-13-5 in the (204). In fact, their first win on home soil was a 2-1 victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins in October 2012. Will history repeat itself?
- Life sans Staal: While Pittsburgh still has the downright studly pair of Crosby and Malkin wreaking havoc on opposing goaltenders, they traded their most versatile player in Jordan Staal due to salary cap restrictions in the off-season. It will be interesting to see how Bylsma has retooled his line-up without a guy that could play even strength, power play and penalty kill minutes for the Pens.
- Glass half full: After Eric Fehr was scratched from Washington's roster on Tuesday, it meant that Tanner Glass would be the first opposing player to face his former team this year. Will he and Chris Thorburn thrown down at any point?
- The MAF Effect: Did you know a if a butterfly flaps it's wings off the southern coast of France it causes Marc-Andre Fleury's save percentage to plummet? For all the shit we've give Ondrej Pavelec over the past seven months, it should be noted that at a 5MM cap hit, the man they call MAF hasn't been worth the price of admission either.
Player to boo mercilessly:
If Sidney Crosby doesn't receive a orchestral-caliber booing then you've all gone soft on me.
Winnipeg Jets 3
Pittsburgh Penguins 2 - F