Thursday, 10 October 2013

Jets face-off against new division rival


Tonight will not be the first time the Winnipeg Jets are playing in Minnesota, but it is the first time they are playing against them as a new division opponent and are their closet geographical rival. I'll be honest and upfront, I can't stand watching Minnesota play hockey. Even with the additions of Ryan Suter and Zach Parise, they still play a very safe, controlled game that focuses on defence first. The lessons taught by former coach Jacques Lemaire have not been forgotten. Hopefully Winnipeg and Minnesota learn to hate each other as that is how true rivals are born. (or meet in the playoffs) The one thing the Wild do well is get in fast on the forecheck and pressure the defencemen. Winnipeg is also very good at that so it will be fun to watch that game within the game. 
 

Minnesota limps into this game winless on the season and short their number one goalie Niklas Backstrom is out day to day with a knee strain. Josh Harding will make his first start of the year and continue to build on his inspirational story. Harding was diagnosed with MS before last season began and is determined to keep playing. The Wild are playing their third home game and have lost in over time and a shoot out, so should be ill-humoured for this game. 
 

Tobias Enstrom and D partner Dustin Byfuglien lead the Jets in scoring, each posting four assists in the first three games. The bad news for Winnipeg is that they have two defenceman leading the team in scoring, the good news is that they have five forwards with three points and have had balanced scoring so far this young season. In fact, seven of the top eight forwards all have a goal, with notorious slow starter Blake Wheeler still not on the board. Perhaps if he would quit passing off in the slot he could remedy that! 

The Jets starting goalie has yet to be confirmed but I would assume Ondrej Pavelec will make his 4th consecutive start of the season. Pavelec currently sits 33rd in the NHL in GAA and 23rd in Sv%. Both numbers need to improve for the Jets to be a playoff team. Interestingly, Backstrom's numbers are worse, so it may in fact be a bad break for the Jets that he is not available. Harding has only played 47 minutes so his stats cannot be trusted at the moment. The Jets do play back to back so the plan may be to give Al Montoya one of the two games. It will be interesting to see how Claude Noel plays this out.
 
With the long weekend upon us there should be many Jets fans who take the opportunity to have a very long weekend and make the drive to St Paul. We'll have our answer quickly during the national anthem. TRUE NORTH!



 

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