Buffalo - November 26, 2014 -
Who: Winnipeg Jets
Where: First Niagra Center, Buffalo, NY
Know thine enemy: The Jets are coming off a 4-2 win in Columbus on Tuesday night over the Blue Jackets. They got another strong goaltending performance from backup Michael Hutchinson, who improved to 4-1-1 with a 1.50 goals against average and .947 save percentage. The Sabres won’t get him, getting surprisingly strong starter Ondrej Pavelec instead. After years of bloated stats, he’s got a 2.29 goals against average and .917 save percentage despite a 7-8-2 record.
Part of the problem with his record has to do with the ineptness of the Jets offense. Until last night’s game, the Jets were hovering under two goals per game (they’re now at 2.04) and struggling to get much out of anyone but their big three: Blake Wheeler, Andrew Ladd and Bryan Little. They did get a big game out of the dormant Evander Kane, who tallied twice in the win. If they can get him back on track, the offense should improve exponentially.
About the Sabres: KINGS OF THE WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOORLD!
The Sabres are riding a three-game winning-streak after taking a 2-1 decision in Washington on Saturday. Granted, they’re still facing a ton of shots per night, but Jhonas Enroth doesn’t care; he’ll stop 100 shots a night. Seriously, he’s played out of his mind this year and would have All-Star stats if he were on a real team.
The most surprising bit about the winning streak is that the offense has come to life. They’ve outscored the opposition 12-4 in that span, with Brian Gionta and Tyler Ennis each riding four-point efforts in that span. That likely won’t continue, but it’s good to see their hard work paying off.
Defensively, it’s still a nightmare. There are three, maybe four competent defensemen on this team and it’s showing in the shot totals. Andre Benoit and Andrej Meszaros could be replaced by pylons and no one would be able to tell the difference.
The part where I predict things: The streak has to end eventually and the offense has proven that it can’t sustain itself for long stretches. Especially not when running into a strong goalie for a strong defensive team (the Jets allow 2.22 goals per game and the Sabres average 1.62 goals per game. Do the math).
Throw in the fact that the Sabres give up a kajliion shots per game and they have to come crashing back to Earth at some point.
Score: 3-2 Jets
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