The Beasts of the East vs. the Best in the West battle did not disappoint... unless of course you hate seeing the Predators cough up leads like they're allergic.
Now the Predators have to fend off a retooled Winnipeg Jets team that is gunning to make up ground in the Central division. They're within spitting distance of a top-three finish in the division, so you might say they should be pretty pumped to take down the king of the mountain.
The Winnipeg Jets
That happened fast.
Five days after it was announced he was to miss 4-6 months due to shoulder surgery, (and barely a week after tracksuit mania) Evander Kane is a Buffalo Sabre. The epitome of a blockbuster deal hit the Inter-waves on Wednesday morning, and morphed from vague rumors to cold hard facts in what seemed like minutes.
Huge deal. Hearing Myers Stafford Armia and Lemieux plus a first for Kane and Bogosian as principles of deal getting close btwn Buf + Wpg.— Darren Dreger (@DarrenDreger) February 11, 2015
It may be hard to pick a clear winner of this trade right now, if there even is one. Kane gets a change of scenery that he badly needed and, even though he won't be a factor this year, will possibly become the face of the franchise. Unless he's overshadowed in a few years by a certain prized center. The Jets get some forward help, and basically replace Zach Bogosian with Tyler Myers, as well as add some future pieces. Even though the first-round pick will be late, it's still a deep draft.
By looking at the entirety of Myers and Bogosian's NHL careers, it is evident that the two players are roughly the same player as they have both spent time in tire fires. It is also evident that Kane is far and away the best player in this trade, even if you consider he had favourable zone starts when he was younger. Stafford is an effective middle six player who should help the Jets in the short term. What is unknown is how this will work out for the long term in Winnipeg. By trading Kane, the Jets have moved a known players for players they hope will be able to replace his current play. This is a dangerous game to play as if Armia does not work out, the Jets are up the creek without an elite shot creator and potential Andrew Ladd replacement when Ladd starts to age out of a scoring role.
So what does this mean for Nashville tonight?
Well, the Jets are sure to be energized after getting a nice little shot of new blood into their locker room. It's looking like Myers and Stafford are going to meet the team in Nashville, so they will get their first taste of action with their new team barely 24 hours after the trade.
Stafford could go right in to play with Scheifele and Perreault, which is where Byfuglien was.— Dan Rosen (@drosennhl) February 11, 2015
For Jets 'D', plan on seeing Byfuglien move back to the blue line to play with Chiarot. Myers should go with Enstrom, Trouba with Stuart.— Dan Rosen (@drosennhl) February 11, 2015
That's not a bad little adjustment, especially for a team cementing its place in the Wild Card race. Of course, they're only three points behind Chicago for the third and final spot in the Central, so it's not inconceivable they can catch them. Winnipeg has a few chances to make up some ground, as well. They play the Blackhawks once more, the Preds twice more (including tonight), and the Blues a whopping four more times. The Jets have more control of their playoff destiny than most, this time of year.
Rookie Michael Hutchinson has been stellar in net for the Jets this year. He's definitely going to get some Calder Trophy votes and, in any other year, he might even steal it. Too bad he's overshadowed by some kids named Ekblad and Forsberg. He's posting a sparkling .927 Sv% on the season, and is coming off a 29 save performance against the Minnesota Wild, allowing only one goal. Though the Jets have been flip-flopping between him and Ondrej Pavalec recently, so it's anyone's guess who the Predators will see tonight.
The Nashville Predators
It was mid-November the last time these two teams met. You might remember it as the game that Mike Ribeiro's tying goal was disallowed because of a high stick, but James Neal scored eight seconds after the ensuing face off. Bridgestone Arena was ready to explode with frustration toward the refs, but before they could gather their thoughts, the goal horn was blasting again.
That's been the way it goes with this team this year. No matter what happens, they somehow find a way to win. There are the games where they're outshot, out possessed and outplayed, but the score ends in favor of the good guys all the same. But those games haven't been many. Although, if the Preds could stop giving up leads all the time, I'm sure that plenty of people would appreciate it.
Winnipeg is not a smoke-and-mirrors team, they're good and should have no problem staying in the postseason picture for the rest of the season. The games between these two have been close, and with potential playoff implications on the line for the Jets, there should be more of the same. Strap your boots on and get work.
- Seth Jones is on a five-game point streak, scoring two goals and three assists in that time. A six-game point streak sounds even better.
- Pekka Rinne was pretty good on Tuesday. It's nice to have him back.
- Your imagination needs a workout. Let Willy be your guide.
Sights and Sounds
Another non-televised game again tonight. It's not like a divisional game that could help shape the playoff picture is worth seeing, though. At least we get to return to seeing games on Saturday when the Preds play... *checks schedule* ...THE DEVILS? Ugh.