If the Winnipeg Jets were hoping to comfortably head into the All-Star break this weekend, they are sure to be in for a rude awakening tonight.
In the club’s final game before breaking for a full week, the Jets will play the second of back-to-back road games tonight as they travel to NYC to take on the New York Rangers.
Unable to take advantage of a team lower in the standings in a 2-1 loss to the Carolina Hurricanes last night, the Jets will be presented with a much greater challenge tonight in the form of the East leading Rangers.
Failing to make up any ground in the race for the Southeast division lead in an overtime loss to the first-place Florida Panthers Saturday night and the aforementioned loss to the last-place Hurricanes, Winnipeg faces the grim reality of heading into the All-Star break with a .500 record, should they be unable to grab at least a point in tonight’s meeting with the Rangers.
Aside from the obvious differences in the two teams, the most glaring being their position in the standings, the biggest factor working against the Jets tonight will be the fact that they are one of the worst road teams in the conference up against the East’s top team and an excellent team on home ice to boot. With a road record of 7-13-4, the Jets will need to play a complete 60 minutes against the Rangers as opposed to the 30 they played last night in the loss to Carolina.
New York has won the previous two meetings between the two teams this year and for the third straight game they have elected to start backup Martin Biron in favour of Hart Trophy candidate Henrik Lundqvist. If last night’s poor first period wasn’t enough motivation for them to respond with a much better performance, the Jets should draw upon the Rangers obvious lack of respect for Winnipeg; whom they clearly consider to be unworthy of the need to start their star goaltender.
Winnipeg’s third period frenzy fell short of a goal in Carolina, and even without Lundqvist, goals should be even harder to come by against a stingy defensive team like the Rangers.
Playing without their leading goal-scorer Evander Kane, who is sidelined with a concussion, the Jets have had a tough time scoring of late, particularly in games away from the MTS Centre. While the Rangers themselves aren’t exactly known to light up the scoreboard, they are the hardest team in the league to score against.
A road game against one of the league’s best teams, who just happen to be the hardest team in the league to score against–the Jets are cetainly well aware of the challenges that lie ahead tonight. Should they be able to rise to the ocassion and meet them would be a huge boost to their confidence and morale heading into the break.