Two teams on the edge of just being able to have an outside chance at a very favorable lottery pick meet up in Buffalo this afternoon. Both teams will be playing for pride and playing to impress coaching and management staffs who already have an eye set towards next season’s rosters.
Both teams wouldn’t be that hurt by a loss either though.
When you think about it, it’s at least somewhat compelling hockey and gives us a reason to watch. Which kids impress? Who is taking advantage of an opportunity they might not normally have? How do you manage expectations of wanting to see a team do well in contrast to wanting as high a pick as possible in the draft?
It’s either you keep those things going in your head, or you make a drinking game out of each contest. Whatever helps you get through these last ten games to close out this dismal season… We won’t judge.
Also, for what it’s worth, the Jets will be going for their first three game win streak of the season today.. The timing of that is impeccable is it not?
Courtesy of Daily Faceoff
Winnipeg Jets (31-37-6)
The line of Ehlers, Scheifele and Wheeler reunited on Thursday night and they looked great and give this feeling that they could score at any given moment they are on the ice. Thorburn, Lowry and Halischuk deserve a little credit as well from Thursday – Lowry especially who is on a modest two game goal scoring streak.
This isn’t exactly accurate.
Trouba is likely a game time decision as he was hurt in Thursday’s win against LA. Brenden Kichton was called up Friday morning and will likely draw in for his NHL debut to play beside Melchiori. Paul Postma had a really nice game on Thursday and with Trouba out, he could be *ahem* “rewarded” by moving up to the second pairing to play with Mark Stuart.
Give Ondrej Pavelec credit, he’s played two very solid games and will likely get the start again today. After his save percentage threatened to dip below the .900 mark after two pathetic starts against Calgary and Chicago, Pavs has stopped 61 of his last 62 shots faced over the last two games which has bumped up his percentage to .907.
Buffalo Sabres (30-34-10)
Speaking of teams getting hot when it’s least required, Buffalo has gone 3-1-1 in their last five games and 5-3-2 in their last 10. Hudson Fasching is making his debut for the Sabres having just completed his time at the University of Minnesota. Ryan O’Reilly leads the team in points with 52 while Jack Eichel leads them in goals with 24. Sam Reinhart as you may remember torched the Jets in their last meeting with a hat trick in a 4-2 win back on January 10.
Also making his NHL debut in this game is Casey Nelson who comes to the Sabres from Minnesota State. Ristolainen continues to be a bright spot for a defense that ranks middle of the league in goals against.
Chad Johnson should get the start this afternoon as he’s been red hot winning six of his last seven starts. He put up 25 saves in the Sabres comeback win over Carolina.
Game Day Prediction: It’s an afternoon game which the Jets typically struggle in and they also seem to struggle winning three games in a row. Buffalo has been pretty good lately and they should win 4-1
Obvious Prediction: Jets fans will treat this as the hockey under-card to the main event taking place later in the day (5 PM CST to be exact) as Kyle Connor and his Michigan Wolverines take on North Dakota for the right to go on to the NCAA Frozen Four.