Tonight, the Avs will host the Winnipeg Jets at Pepsi Center. I'm trying to think of awesome puns to use, or maybe quote a whole bunch of Top Gun lines. Maybe make a joke about Bill Pullman's presidential destruction of aliens as a fighter pilot. I'm pretty sure that's all been done, tho, so I'll do my best to refrain.
The Avs come into this game after a hard earned loss against St Louis on Saturday. The boys definitely played that game hard, but couldn't quite come up with the win against STL. They should be recharged and feeling good about their team play when they face off against The Jets tonight.
One thing that we need to keep a hard eye on is Paul Stastny. Pauly Walnuts tweaked his back on his first shift against the Blues, and sat out the rest of the game. The only thing I could find on his current condition is that "we'll see on Monday". So please, anyone who sees some hard news, update the rest of us. Also, as of the time of this writing, no one had been called up from Lake Erie as an insurance policy. Odd, eh? Altho we've seen Roy do this a time or two recently when he thinks the team will get the missing player back soon. Some of the best guesses about who might be called up, should Pauly be unavailable, would be Brad Malone, who's been playing well of late, or David van der Gulik, who's been excellent since his recent return. Now that the trade deadline has passed, we shouldn't have to worry about our roster limits as much, but I understand that they might want to leave the Lake Erie Monsters as intact as possible to pursue their slim chances of making the playoffs.
The Jets are pretty far out of the playoff picture (67 points, four behind Dallas); they would have to go on a hell of a tear to make it in at this point. Their chances according to Sports Club Stat sit at 9.4%. That doesn't mean that we shouldn't take them seriously, tho. Well, we shouldn't dismiss them, at least. Winnipeg is 2-2-1 since the Olympic Break, and their wins have been over Nashville and Phoenix. But I don't want to see us playing down to our opponent. We've had enough of that in previous years. The only two games we've played against Winnipeg this year have been fairly close affairs, too. The first one was a one goal game in which the Avs rallied in the third to take the lead and win. The second game was a shootout win after a wild back-and-forth game in which Matt Duchene had 3 points.
Now, the Avs are a different team than they were in October and December, respectively, and I think we're up to the challenge this time around. We also see them once more, on March 19. In fact, these two games might well be the "easiest" games remaining on our schedule. So I think we'd better win them.
Projected Jets Lineup:
Devin Setoguchi, Michael Frolik, Matt Halischuk
Andrew Ladd, Bryan Little, Blake Wheeler
Evander Kane, Olli Jokinen, Dustin Byfuglien
Eric Tangradi, Jim Slater, Anthony Peluso
Mark Stuart, Jacob Trouba
Zach Bogosian, Tobian Enstrom
Adam Pardy, Keaton Ellerby
Not sure which goaltender will start this game; Ondrei Pavelec started the Jet's last game against the Senators (his fifth start in a row), but was pulled after five goals against with Al Montoya stepping in. Montoya played 28 minutes, the remainder of the game.
Blake Wheeler has 4 points against the Avs in the previous two meetings this season with 3 goals and an assist. Similarly, Grant Clitsome had 3 assists in those games, but he went out in January with season-ending back surgery. Also, Bryan Little had 3 apples, so let's be sure to shut him down this time.
Altho Nathan MacKinnon's record point streak was broken last game, he comfortably leads all rookies in Points, Goals, and Assists. In fact, he's tied with Ryan O'Reilly in points with 51, and sits one point behind Gabriel Landeskog.
The Avs have four players in the top 31 in point scoring: The three I listed just above, and Duchene, with 59 points. PIT, SJS, and CHI all have 3 in that range. (I had to include 31, because Landy and MacK were tied at 51 in positions 30 and 31)
If you want to go see the opposition, please check out Arctic Ice Hockey. Please be nice if you go over there.