Columbus Blue Jackets Staring Down the Barrel: Winnipeg Jets

WINNIPEG, MB - OCTOBER 17: Zach Werenski
WINNIPEG, MB - OCTOBER 17: Zach Werenski /

The Columbus Blue Jackets host the Winnipeg Jets as the two teams square off for the final time this season.

Friday night at Nationwide Arena the Columbus Blue Jackets host the Winnipeg Jets for the final time this year. The two just played ten days ago and will wrap up their season series tonight.

I sat down and talked with SBNation’s Winnipeg Jet’s expert Derek Gagnon to talk all things Jets vs. Jacket. Be sure to head over to to read Derek’s great work. Escpecially his recap of the upcoming Jackets win over the Jets.

Lansing Murphy (LM): How’s life so far with former Blue Jacket Steve Mason? How many people are really defending him still?

Derek Gagnon (DG): Steve Mason still has people in Winnipeg defending his poor play to start the season, saying the quality of competition has been higher than that faced by fellow goaltender Connor Hellebuyck. But I’m not buying it.

Mason’s numbers have been quite bad this year, and he wasn’t exactly an All-Star goalie last season either. I don’t expect his numbers to remain this bad, but if folks in Winnipeg were expecting a big upgrade over the departed Ondrej Pavelec, that was never in the cards.

Central Ohio in Manitoba

LM: What is your opinion on Central Ohioan Jack Roslovic? When do you foresee him sticking in the NHL?

DG: I believe Jack Roslovic has done very well for himself, both at the NCAA level and now at the AHL level. With the top two centre spots in Winnipeg locked up for the foreseeable future, Roslovic will have to play his way into the lineup. Roslovic lead the Manitoba Moose in points last year with 48 points in 65 games, and has six points through six games so far this season.

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Winnipeg Jets Head Coach tends to go with two skilled lines and two shutdown lines (though their shutdown abilities are rather suspect), which is not ideal for Roslovic getting a lot of play time unless he takes another step in the AHL this year, or the Jets find themselves out of the playoff picture by February, either of which is a possibility, with my thought that the former would be the case.

LM: Most would say (including myself) that the Metro is the toughest division in hockey. But the Central is right there. How do the Jets make the playoffs out of the Central?

DG: I believe the Jets have the pieces in place to make the playoffs. While it would likely be as a wildcard, as getting into the top three in the Central is a battle, the young talent on the Jets should be able to get the job done.

Columbus Blue Jackets
Columbus Blue Jackets /

Columbus Blue Jackets

There are two big keys that everything hinges on: goaltending and special teams. While this goes for most teams, it has not been an unaddressed area of weakness for most. The Jets’ special teams consistently have been amongst the worst in the NHL since the team moved from Atlanta, and apart from one good year of Ondrej Pavelec, the same can be said for goaltending.

Even average goaltending and middle third special teams would be a big enough improvement for the Jets to go from being just out of the playoffs, to punching their ticket to the post-season.


LM: How do you see the second and final matchup between the Jackets and Jets playing out?

DG: This will depend on which goalie the Jets choose to use against the Jackets. As this game is the second half of a back to back for Winnipeg, with the Jets playing Pittsburgh the night before, I can hazard a guess that Connor Hellebuyck gets the Penguins and Mason plays his old club again.

Playing back to back is difficult for every team, so that doesn’t bode well for Winnipeg. If Mason continues his poor play, it could be similar to the first time these teams met. If the Jets want to win, they’ll need to strike early and whether the storm as fatigue sets in.

It will be interesting to see how the young stars of the Winnipeg team do against a goalie like Sergei Bobrovsky (or Korpisalo again). In short, I see Columbus winning, but it wouldn’t surprise me if Winnipeg surprised either. (How’s that for noncommittal?)

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I want to thank editor Derek Gagnon again for chatting with me about the Jets and giving us an inside look at the team, their future, and the game tonight. Be sure to follow him on twitter and read his writing.

The Columbus Blue Jackets and Winnipeg Jets tonight at Nationwide Arena. You’re one and only chance to see the Jets this year in Ohio.