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JGD 81: Jets Sail Into Columbus

It’ll be a night of firsts at Nationwide Arena on Thursday as the Winnipeg Jets face off against the Columbus Blue Jackets. Eric Comrie and Columbus native Jack Roslovic will each make their NHL debut as the Jets will finally give a look into their future. It will be a night those two youngsters will never forget.

Lineups:

Winnipeg (38-35-7)

We know this is outdated as Roslovic will be in the lineup. The question is, who does he replace? Jets Nation colleague John Malloy wrote an excellent column on how Roslovic and Kyle Connor should be used. It would be ideal to have Brandon Tanev and Chris Thorburn sit in the press box but Connor won’t play on Thursday. (Connor is expected to suit up in Saturday’s season finale.) What Paul Maurice decides is anyone’s guess. His usage of players is highly questionable at best.

Will Tyler Myers suit up before the season is over? The towering defenceman is with the team on this road trip but whether he plays remains uncertain. Myers hasn’t been in the lineup since November 11 in Colorado as he’s battled injuries and a family crisis.

Eric Comrie has been waiting for his chance. The 2013 second round draft pick hasn’t put up the best numbers with the Manitoba Moose this season but he hasn’t had a lot of help either. A .906 save percentage to go with a 2.98 GAA isn’t going to open many eyes. But the Jets organization has major depth issues on the blueline and the Moose have suffered the consequences. Comrie will be battling for a job in training camp in the fall so he would like to make a good first impression in the Ohio capital.

Columbus (49-22-8)

Cam Atkinson doesn’t receive a lot of attention outside of the Buckeye State but the 27-year-old right winger is enjoying a career year. Atkinson leads the club in goals (34) and points (61), despite not having the best possession numbers. (48.8% CF%) Atkinson relies on speed and his elusiveness to find the open areas and pounce on opportunities. Keep an eye on this 5-8, 172 lb waterbug.

Seth Jones is starting to show his enormous potential that made him the fourth overall pick in the 2013 entry draft. The 6-4 220 pound blueliner is a hulking specimen that has good hockey acumen to go with his physical tools. He’s still learning the trade but his future is as bright as the sun on a hot summer’s day.

If Columbus wants to go far in the playoffs, Sergei Bobrovsky will have to be at his best. Bobrovsky is having a terrific season with the Jackets, posting a .933 save percentage and a 2.02 GAA in 62 appearances. The road out of the Metropolitan Division is mighty bumpy as Pittsburgh and Washington stand in the way. Bobrovsky will need to come up large for Columbus to have any chance at a run.

Predictions:

Game Prediction: The Jets have won five in a row, their best streak of the season. Sadly, this is happening when the team is eliminated from playoff contention. Since the Jets play better when the pressure is off, they’ll win 5-4.

Obvious Prediction: The local media will go on and on about how much the Jets can carry the momentum from this streak to next season and how this streak helps the team in the future.

Not So Obvious Prediction: Roslovic will score his first NHL goal in front of friends and family.