The Florida Panthers are trying to avoid a late season meltdown once again this year. Last season they weren’t playing quite this well, but they were in a position to reach the playoffs yet burned it away. With two losses in a row on their resume, they will look to avoid a skid and get back on track in Winnipeg. The Panthers are in the midst of a road trip at the moment, previously dropping their first two games on the road excursion. The Panthers dropped decisions to the Blue Jackets and Wild, two very winnable games. Now Florida has another game they should win staring at them in the face. These are the kind of streaks you don’t want to get on. Nobody wants to get on a losing skid, but against teams that are beatable is an added dose of salt to the wound. The Jets have been pushed out of any hope for a playoff spot, with a lackluster showing, going 4-6 in their last ten games and 1-5 in their last six. At the trade deadline, it is easy to see which teams are pushing to make the playoffs, and they others that are preparing to make moves for the offseason.
The Jets traded away their captain, Andrew Ladd, to the Blackhawks. The immediate impact was a big win against the Dallas Stars. However, it was easy to conclude that for the rest of the season, the Jets would suffer as a result of the deal. Since Ladd left for Chicago, the Jets have gone 1-1. They lost to the Pittsburgh Penguins in their previous contest by a score of 4-1. The loss certainly bumped them off their pedestal after toying with the Stars in a 6-3 win. But I think the Pens loss is the reality of the situation. That is a better representation of the Jets than how they played against the Stars. And it’s a shame for the Jets, after such a great season a year ago and reaching the playoffs. Now all they are left to do is focus on the future. There is still a lot of hockey left though, and they have to focus on the Florida Panthers tonight. We’ll get to the rest of the pick below for our first pick in March.
Florida Panthers vs. Winnipeg Jets NHL Pick
Roberto Luongo is shouldered with the responsibility of bringing the Panthers to the playoffs and doing something with the opportunity. Nothing has really changed since Vancouver with him, but there was definitely more pressure on him with the Canucks, there is no denying that. I think with not as much pressure on himself in Florida, he has been excelling. Luongo owns a 2.25 GAA and 0.925 save percentage. This is his second stint with the Panthers, originally coming into the league with them. 2015-16 has been his best season since 2010-11 with the Canucks.
The Panthers are 2nd in the NHL, allowing 2.27 goals per game. The Jets on the other hand have a major issue doing what the Panthers do so well. Winnipeg is 25th defensively, allowing 2.95 goals per game. Their play of late suggests the same problem with the Jets, as they have given up 3.20 goals on average in their last ten games.
Offensively, the Jets have always been average, scoring 2.57 goals a game for 19th in the league. Likewise, they have scored 2.50 in their last ten games. The Jets are consistent, we can give them that. If the Panthers were coming off a couple wins, I wouldn’t be so thrilled to make this bet. This would have been a classic letdown scenario in Winnipeg. However, I think the Panthers grab 1 or 2 wins during their road trip, and this looks like one of them. Three losses in a row against bad to average teams is a recipe for an extended funk. I see the Panthers having a quality effort tonight, defeating the Jets in Winnipeg.
PICK: PANTHERS TO WIN -115