The Winnipeg Jets are in Pittsburgh tonight, which could be a possible preview of the Stanley Cup Final. It’s certainly not a certainty or even a favourable scenario, but considering the way the Penguins are playing lately, they look like a dangerous team who no one is going to want to face in the playoffs.
The Penguins have the experience to put fear into most teams. This league is becoming a young mans game, but I wouldn’t want to be taking on Crosby and Malkin come playoff time. Patrik Laine probably doesn’t want to either. But in the end, it was a hockey elder, Alex Ovechkin, who had the last laugh and hoisted the Stanley Cup.
Laine and the Jets fell to the Vegas Golden Knights in the Western Conference Final a season ago. Matching the Knights’ intensity was just too much for Winnipeg to overcome. With that said, the Jets are right back at the table and looking to eclipse their accomplishments from a season ago.
They are currently 2 points up on the Predators for 1st in the Central. Despite the loss last night for the Flames, they’re 1st in the Western Conference with 54 points. A Jets and Flames showdown in the West would make for an entertaining matchup, but I am still leery of David Rittich making a name for himself.
If he does lead the Flames far, he’s going to be embraced like no other player in Calgary. In any event, the playoffs are going to be a wild ride, but we’re still months off from that. The Jets are coming off a 4-3 win over the Oilers to end a brief two-game skid. They’ve gone 7-3 in their previous ten games. Winnipeg will have a hot Penguins team to deal with this evening. The Penguins are winners in seven straight games and have won nine of their last ten games. It took them a second to find their stroke, but they have looked good as ever recently. Head below for our free Jets vs. Penguins pick.
Winnipeg Jets vs. Pittsburgh Penguins Pick
Things were looking pretty dire for the Penguins early in the season. Even some hardcore Penguins’ supporters thought the future was looking bleak for them this season. They were just a step slower than everyone else and the defence was playing terribly bad on the blue line. That includes the goaltending gaffes by Matt Murray between the pipes. His effort had fans in Pittsburgh longing for the days of Marc-Andre Fleury in net. Fleury going to the Stanley Cup Final a season ago just made it all sting a little more.
Murray is likely never going to have the same impact on the Penguins as Fleury did, but he can be serviceable enough to lead them deep into the playoffs. We didn’t see any of that to start the season, though. Murray enters Friday with a 3.07 GAA and 0.908 save percentage.
He didn’t have to do much in his last outing, as the Penguins rang the scoreboard up for 7 goals in a 7-2 win over the Rangers. He has been getting solid goal support behind a Pittsburgh offence that is averaging 3.48 goals per game for 5th in the league. The Jets are 7th with 3.41 goals scored per game this season.
The Penguins have been flourishing while on their 9-1 run. They’ve put an average of 3.9 goals per game in the net and at least 5 goals in three of their last four games. In their last six meetings against the Jets, the Pens have averaged 3.6 goals per game. Conversely, the Jets have notched 3.2 per game.
The Penguins edged the Jets out 4-3 in their first meeting this season. Murray hasn’t been sharp against the Jets in his career, as he holds a 3.88 GAA and 0.88 save percentage. This game should play out similar to how the last game went. It is likely going to be close with a 4-3 or 5-3 final score on Friday night in Pittsburgh.