Stop me if you've heard this before: tonight's opponent is going to be really fighting for these standings points, so the Blues will need to match that intensity. Our own playoff ticket is all but punched, but we cannot afford to be lackadaisical about tonight's game. More importantly, this could very well be our playoff opponent in the first round. Before we catch the jet airliner to the next game, we need to make sure they know we have their number.
Little has changed since the last time these two teams faced each other, the 5-4 win at the DrinkScotch on March 10th. The biggest impact on the Jets team from that game was the question that arose over the goaltending situation. Newcomer Michael Hutchinson had taken over the starter's role, and started against the Blues last week. After giving up 4 goals on 7 shots (a .429 Save Percentage, BTW), he gave way to Ondrej Pavelec about halfway through the game. Pavelec held on for most of the game, but gave up the GWG on a Barret Jackman dump-in-turned-goal from center ice. Neither goalie came away with much positives from that game. Should coach Paul Maurice stick with the rookie, and let him play through his problems, or should the incumbent Pavelec be given a chance to reclaim his crease? In the three games since, Hutchinson started the next one (4-2 loss to Florida), and Pavelec the following two (2-1 win over Tampa, and a 5-2 spanking of the Sharks).
Overall, the Jets have been playing pretty well. It would be easy to just take the money and run to a new team in the offseason, but the players seem to have bought in to Maurice's system. They've gone 5-3-2 in their last 10 games, and they've scored plenty over that stretch. That run includes putting up 5 goals each over LA and San Jose, and 4 tallies against Nashville. Blake Wheeler has 9 points so far in his 5-game point streak. Other hot sticks right now are Mark Scheifele (11 points in 10 games) and Drew Stafford (6 points in 5 games). The goals are coming, but the rest of the team needs to be sure that those goals count.
The Jets can score; that's really never been the issue. If they can get some solid defense and a critical save or two, the Jets can keep on the playoff trail. One thing that'll help is that injured players are starting to skate again. Bryan Little is back at practice, but could be out a little longer yet - he's on the right path, though. Team leader Dustin Byfuglien was considered a game-time decision at the Sharks game, so could be ready to go tonight. They could sure use him out there.
The Joker card is that Coach Paul Maurice has not announced a starter yet (check the twitter stream below for details. He's been cagey like that for some time now. The Blues have not named a starter either, so I guess two can play at that game.
Blues vs Jets coverage
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Final Verse: The puck drops at 7:00 PM St Louis time, and the GDT should drop shortly beforehand. The TV broadcast is on Fox Sports MW, and the radio call will be on KMOX 1120 AM. Please drop by and hang out with us. This should be a fun game, even more so if there are any goals like this: