So, has anyone heard any news around the Jets camp lately? It’s been pretty quiet hasn’t it. Not much is happening. Oh wait. There was a small order of business. Nothing major. Ondrej Pavelec was called up from the Manitoba Moose. Remember him? Yeah that didn’t generate much talk. Unless you count Twitter nearly exploding.
Yes, it’s the return of Pavelec as the Jets host the Arizona Coyotes as the former number one goalie makes his 2016-17 debut with the big club, after toiling with the Moose all season.
This lineup desperately misses Patrik Laine and it showed on their recent road trip. The Jets lost all three games, scoring only 7 goals while looking lost and confused. It’s a frustrated group that can’t seem to find the groove at this moment. With their top sniper still on IR, the rest of the forwards must step up in order to reverse this losing trend. If there is trouble early, Paul Maurice may get the blender out again to find a combination that works.
Ben Chiarot was placed on IR on Tuesday with an upper-body injury which means Mark Stuart will see more ice time. Stuart has paired up with Paul Postma the last two games and the results aren’t good. Problem is the Jets don’t have depth on defence at this moment and Tyler Myers return is still unknown. This area needs to be addressed in the offseason or best case scenario, at the trade deadline. But with the market being stagnant, it looks like the Jets are stuck with what they’ve got.
Yes, Pavelec is back and all is right with the world. Well, not really. There is no denying that the tandem of Connor Hellebuyck and Michael Hutchison were struggling. Pavelec at best is a short term fix that will mend some of the crease wounds while giving Hellebuyck and Hutchison some rest. At worst, Pavelec will return to his below average form that produced bad numbers and much angst among Jet fans. This will be fun in a terrifying sort of way.
Hey, look who returns to Winnipeg. That’s right, it’s everybody’s favourite Russian, Alexander Burmistrov. This will be Burmistrov’s second game with the Coyotes after being picked up on waivers on January 2. He recorded an assist in his first game in Edmonton on Monday and he will see more ice time with a young Coyotes team than he did here in Winnipeg.
The Coyotes have an excellent veteran defenceman in Oliver Ekman-Larsson and a young, up-and-coming rearguard in Jakob Chychrun. In between those two is a lot of inconsistent performers who have given head coach Dave Tippett plenty of headaches this season. It’s a vulnerable group and the Jets would be wise to take advantage of them.
Expect Mike Smith to get the call between the pipes. The veteran netminder was outstanding last Friday in the Desert Dogs 4-3 win over the Jets in Glendale, stopping 37 out of 40 shots for a .919 save percentage. Smith has been a bright spot on a disappointing Coyotes side, recording an above average .918 save percentage for the season. He can steal a game so the Jets must make life difficult for Smith.
Game Prediction: Some reverse psychology coming your way. Arizona wins 6-4.
Obvious Prediction: Pavelec gets a warm ovation at the start. But if he lets in a softie, the crowd will quickly turn on him.
Not So Obvious Prediction: Burmistrov scores against his old team and will get soundly booed.