The Winnipeg Jets are fighting for their playoff lives and they’ll have to battle on without their top defenceman.
Dustin Byfuglien, the Jets’ top scoring blue-liner with 18 goals and 36 points, will be out 2-to-4 weeks with an upper-body injury as the team prepares to face the Central Division leading Nashville Predators (41-18-7) on Saturday night.
The injury couldn’t have come at a worse time for the Jets (32-21-12), who are hanging on to the second wild-card spot in the West – two points ahead of the defending Stanley Cup champion L.A. Kings.
The Jets are coming off a 3-1 loss to the Ottawa Senators, while the Predators dropped their fifth straight game in a 4-3 loss to the New York Islanders.
Lines provided by DailyFaceoff.com
Bryan Little (upper-body injury) travelled with the Jets but is expected to miss the first half of their four-game road trip.
Don’t expect newly acquired Jiri Tlusty to step up in the offensive department against Nashville. History shows Tlusty doesn’t play his best hockey against the Preds, having only scored one goal in nine career games against them.
Some were hoping Byfuglien’s injury could open the door for defenceman Paul Postma, who hasn’t seen game action since Jan. 8. It looks as though Adam Pardy gets the call tonight to play with Jay Harrison.
Michael Hutchinson starts again, with his eighth start in nine games, despite being pulled last game. Hutchinson has a 19-8-5 record and a 0.918 save percentage. Back up Ondrej Pavelec has a 13-13-7 record and a 0.909 save percentage.
Filip Forseberg leads the team with 21 goals and Mike Ribeiro tops the Preds with 40 assists. Both players sit tied in team scoring with 53 points apiece.
The Preds boast arguably the best blue-line in the NHL led by the top pairing of Shea Weber and Roman Josi, who combined, have scored 90 points this season.
Then there’s Pekke Rinne. With a depleted lineup, the Jets will have their hands full trying to score on one of the league’s best goaltenders.
Game Day Predictions:
Jets always will be predicted to win. We are a Jets blog.
Tyler Myers and Jacob Trouba will eat up a lot of minutes on the blue-line with Byfuglien sidelined. Maybe they can put up the same offence Big Buff does, too.
Not So Obvious Predictions:
Tlusty makes me eat crow and nets a hat trick against the Predators.
Editors Note: This Jets Game Day post was brought to you by our new contributor Angelo Montilla. Everyone give Angelo a warm welcome.