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Game 75: Winnipeg @ Nashville – All Hands on the Flight Deck


Photo by: Fred Greenslade/Reuters

For the first time in a long time, the Winnipeg Jets come to Nashville in their only meeting of the year. Although Nashville saw the Jets on a couple of occasions during the pre-season, this marks the official revisit of Winnipeg for a showdown that counts.

The Jets are coming off an overtime win against the Capitals in D.C. winning 4-3. Two different players got their first goals last night along with Little’s 22nd and Stapleton’s OT winner, his 10th goal of the year.

Nashville is still licking it’s wounds as are those that cheer for the Predators. The last two games have been a bombardment of offense and the seemingly unstoppable backstop Rinne has looked lowly at best. The Predators need to step up and take these two points tonight, not just steal them. A strong showing against a team fighting for their own hold of a playoff spot is just the motivation Nashville needs before going into a formidable stretch of Central Division opponents.

Game time is 6 P.M. at the Bridgestone Arena. It may be sold out already, if not only a handful of tickets remain.

This Year’s Series: N/A

Looking at the Jets: The offense for the Jets boasts some impressive numbers. They are led in points by Blake Wheeler and in goals by the young Evander Kane. Third in points on the Jets is the power forward known to many as “Big Buff” or Dustin Byfuglien. He is a huge asset on the blueline and can work in and around the net if needed. He is great for dropping down into the play, but even if he stays on the blueline, he has a cannon that can always find twine.

Ondrej Pavalec in net is always a daunting figure, but the Predators may see a familiar face tonight in goal as the Jets playing Pavalec last night against Washington. Chris Mason, who was the back-up goaltender in Nashville that came to the rescue a few seasons ago going into the playoffs will more than likely start in goal for the Jets. Mason knows the Predators system, but not all the new talent that has been added to the roster since his departure.

Looking at the Predators: Crestfallen is the adjective to describe how Predator fans have been feeling for the last 3 days. A decent effort against Edmonton had bad puck luck and questionable officiating lead to a 6-3 pounding by cellar-dwelling Edmonton. Next came one of the toughest teams in the NHL to play, and the Predators were next in line for another beatdown, 5-1 at the hands of the Pittsburgh Penguins.

There were many times in both games that the Predators had a chance to get back in it but each time the puck would bounce wrong or come off the heel of a stick and that window was closed for good. It looks as though the Predators are holding their sticks a little too tight. The loose game that the Predators have played as of late is not conducive to “Predators-style” hockey. Sure it’s nice to press the issue in the opponent’s zone for extended periods of time, but unfortunately it always seems to go back the other way with the defense out of position and the opponent breaking out with numbers.

For the Jets to win: Survive the onslaught. The Predators have put more shots on goal recently and it’ll be up to Chris Mason and the Jets defense to clear out the forwards. By doing so it acts like a rope-a-dope against the Predators as they have been pinching down to keep the play in the zone, but find themselves out manned when the puck comes back the other way.

Little, Ladd and Wheeler are masters in and around the net. Coupled with the sniping abilities of Kane and Antropov, the Jets have a full compliment of forwards that can make Rinne’s night a long affair. With Rinne not tracking the puck with as much tenacity, the Jets can open fire and pinpoint the corners.

For the Predators to win: It starts in net. Rinne has to become the goalie who set franchise records in January. He alone can make or break the Predators season. It was one thing to ask him to steal games for Nashville early on, it’s another thing entirely to ask for him not to allow 3 goals on 7 shots. Rinne is elite in the NHL, 2nd in wins, 1st in saves and shots against. The defense needs to start bailing him out and picking up on the late man driving in. More often than not, it is the late man putting the shot on net that goes in or gets put back in on the rebound.

Defense, defense and more defense. From the forwards and the D-core all Predators are to be held accountable from here on out. Hopefully Gaustad will be back in the lineup tonight (as this was when he was hoping to return) and that will provdie some size and a great face-off specialist. The rest of the forwards need to take very good care of the puck. No blind passes or East-to-West passing (Crispy hates these) and to use another favorite of Terry Crisp…”head on a swivel.” The Predators need to know where their opponents are to cut down the angles and force the issue back the other way, otherwise it could be another long night in front of a sellout crowd on Broadway.


If you like what I have listed out here or if you have any questions/comments/concerns, feel free to let me know on Twitter…@Preducated
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