March 31 2014 03:57PM
Jets fans had their chance to say good bye to Teemu at the MTS Centre back on October 6th. But this will be his last game against the Jets. His 76 goals with that white Titan won't be forgotten for fans of a certain generation, and it seems Winnipeg left an impression on him as well. It's your last chance to see the Finnish sniper ply his trade against the Jets and reminisce about when he came over the Atlantic as a teenager.
But this game isn't just about Teemu.
The Jets have had a wild season. They've had deep lows, like the 9 losses in October with Scheifele falling all over the ice, or the 7 games Pavelec lost in December on the back of a stunningly bad .863 save percentage. But there have been times when the team looked next to unstoppable instead, even beating Anaheim and Chicago five days apart during the Paul Maurice honey moon where the team went 9-3-1 heading into the Olympic break.
Now 9 points back of Phoenix for the Wildcard playoff spot with just 7 games remaining, the Jets are playing out the string. A swing through California means playing the top three teams of the Pacific Division. They enter tonight's game with the chance to win some respect as a team with upward momentum.
Ladd - Little - Frolik
Byfuglien - Jokinen - Wheeler
Kane - O'Dell - Halischuk
Tangradi - Slater - Peluso
Setoguchi is out of the lineup again. He's a good hockey player who played in the top-9 on two better teams. This season he's played with Thorburn, Byfuglien in his first few games at forward, and on his off-wing for the first time in his career. His best opportunity was at the start of the year with Scheifele and Kane, but Scheifele was behind the curve in October and the line was broken up before the kid found the range. It seems like simple fact to my brain that Seto in for Halischuk makes this team better, but two coaches in a row seem to want to see him do the impossible before they let him try his hand at the realistic.
I really, quite genuinely don't understand why we didn't see a 'common sense' lineup for a second year in a row. There is a hole in the top-9, without a doubt. One coach filled it with Thorburn, another with Byfuglien. O'Dell has had a very limited opportunity, while other NHL fringe players Andrew Gordon and Jerome Samson didn't even get a pre-season look. Telegin was shipped away and relations damaged. Klingberg looked great in pre-season and has played his role as a two-way winger well on the farm.
While Cormier and Albert have been paid to watch the games from the bench, players with more success as professionals have been passed over so that everyone can take a turn at left wing. I may never understand.
Stuart - Trouba
Enstrom - Postma
- Pardy - Redmond
Montoya is nursing an injury, so despite Pavelec being hot garbage the other night and much of the season, he'll get his second straight start. Michael Hutchinson gets a bigger per diem today, but has to watch the coach pray his starter doesn't get hurt (as though anyone could be worse).
Did I mention that Setoguchi is in the press box while Byfuglien plays forward on a team with Paul Postma in the top-4? (Yeah, but the turnovers...) We looked at the challenge Buf faced as a defender on a disorganized team here. It would be nice to see how he looks over the final half-dozen games with a new coach and a more active breakout.
Silfverberg - Getzlaf - Perry
Maroon - Perreault - Selanne
Cogliano - Koivu - Winnik
Beleskey - Bonino - Palmieri
There are a lot of hard to spell names on this club - a sign of quality! (Or a meaningless coincidence, or whatever)
A lot of attention has been paid to the superb seasons by Getzlaf and Perry. The simple truth for those two is that when they play the toughest competition, they are very good players who score a lot. When they get to play the second toughs, they are other-worldly players who feed on the sorrow of the opposition. One of the secrets to the Ducks' Pacific Division leading level of success has been the checking line of Cogliano, Koivu, and Winnik. They are a shut down line for the ages.
It can be hard to remember that this team traded away Bobby Ryan and Dustin Penner within the last calendar year. It's a forward group with a lot more depth and talent than we hear about in the mainstream.
Lindholm - Lovejoy
Robidas - Sbisa
- Beachemin - Vatanen
The backup gets the start tonight, even as the Ducks chase first in the Conference. New-comer Robidas is recently returned from a broken leg, while Olympian Cam Fowler recovers from a knee injury.
Given the team's success, they have a very young defence group. Luca Sbisa is a 1990 birthday (same as Bogosian), Fowler and Vatanen are both born in 1991, and Hampus Lindholm is barely out of his teenage years as a 1994 birthday. Their core group is on the up-swing. It's a scary thought.
All Too Specific Predictions
Both the previous contests ended 3-2 (one win each), but this one is different. The Jets are out of balance and miss having a defence group. Pavelec is shaky. The Ducks are giving Teemu a proper send off and still have some motivation to grab points in the tight Pacific Division race.
Perry opens the scoring on an over-pursuit breakdown by Stuart (a happenstance that could be a drinking game on cold Manitoba nights). Silfverberg follows just 3 minutes later on a rebound kicked right to him by Pavelec.
The team re-groups in the intermission and Enstrom wires one from the point at the 18 minute mark of the second to bring it within one. But the end of the second, however, the Ducks have owned possession and it's been a few stellar saves by Pavelec that has made the difference - or so the panel will tell us.
Not able to gain control of the puck thanks to Pav's frantic play and poor rebound control, the Jets get hemmed in during the third period much as they did during the first. Cogliano, Selanne, and finally Lindholm all find twine and the game ends 5-1.
After the game, media turn on Enstrom and Byfuglien as the 'guys who have to do more.'