This Sunday November 11th, the CFL playoffs kickoff. The Ottawa Redblacks and Calgary Stampeders have earned 1st round byes while this weekend the BC Lions will face the Hamilton Ticats and the Saskatchewan Roughriders will play the Winnipeg Blue Bombers to see who advances to the conference finals.
Winnipeg vs Florida: Sputtering Jets Limp Into South Beach to Face the Panthers
Florida Panthers: Looking to get back their winning ways
Following a light's out 19-6-1 run through December and January, Florida is looking to fight out of a February funk as the Panthers have posted a middling 4-3-2 record so far this month. The Cats are 1-2-1 during the first four matches of a six game home-stand and they have played in back-to-back 2-1 shootouts – winning versus Pittsburgh on Monday and losing to San Jose in their last contest on Thursday. Defense first continues as the manta in South Beach as the Panthers 2.31 team GA/G is fourth best in the NHL while their 2.67 GF/G average is respectable at twelfth overall in the league.
Winnipeg Jets: NHL Western Conference postseason flight plans appear to be grounded
Thanks to key players playing at a sub-par level, an even more important player falling to injury, plus bad defense, Winnipeg's playoff chances keeping taking hits. The Jets has fallen into last place in the very tough Central Division thanks in part to a 3-4-1 stumble in February that includes a 2-1 (SO) win in Edmonton, a 2-1 loss in Carolina on Tuesday and a 6-5 SO loss in Tampa on Thursday during the first three game of their current four-game road trip. Winnipeg will be without their second leading scorer Bryan Little (17 G 25 A 42 PTS) as he is day-to-day after getting rocked by a questionable hit during the Jets loss to the Lightning. Overall, Winnipeg is simply not very good.
Panthers vs Jets NHL Prediction: Roberto Luongo (24-14-5 GAA 2.29) vs Mike Hutchinson (6-10-1 GAA 2.87) gives Florida an advantage in the goaltending duel tonight. Luongo is back between the pipes, after sitting out the Cats last two games, and he is looking to rebound from a 5-0 blowout loss at home to Nashville. The goalie situation in Winnipeg is murky as they roll the dice with Hutchison who is 3-8-1 with a 3.04 GAA during eleven starts on the road this season. This is the first of two meetings this season after the teams split their two-game series last year. Florida won 4-2 at home in March after getting whacked 8-2 in Winnipeg in January. While we still aren't sold on Florida as legitimate Stanley Cup contenders, we like them at home against the misfiring Jets tonight.
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The Wildcard games have concluded and the 4 Divisional matchups are set. Red Sox, Yankees will have the most marquee appeal but all series are intriguing and this postseason lineup of baseball looks as good as any that can be recalled in recent memory.