Blues Record: 2-0-0 (3-2 W vs SEL, 4-3 OTW @ SEL)
Two straight victories over the Selkirk Steelers gave the Winnipeg Blues a perfect ending to January.
At home on Friday, Winnipeg eked out a win from a chippy game where penalty trouble made things harder than it needed to be. Winnipeg gave Selkirk six power plays in the second and third periods – the Steelers scored twice to keep themselves in the game, but Matt McLeod’s second goal of the season stood up as the game winner. Winnipeg scored on their lone power play of the game, a nice wrist shot goal from Josiah Vanderhooft.
In Winnipeg’s final meeting with Selkirk this year, the Blues never trailed in a back-and-forth game where both teams had plenty of chances. This time, however, Selkirk was able to get a late tying goal to force overtime. In the extra frame, Brayden Foreman found Ryan Ostermann alone in front of the net with a sneaky pass through two Steelers defensemen. Ostermann finished off the game with a nice backhand move for his fifth goal in four games versus his old team.
Winnipeg finishes January with a 6-2 record, including winning five of their last six games.
The schedule gets more condensed in February, starting with just the second week this season where Winnipeg will play more than two games.
First, a meeting with the top team in the East Division, the Steinbach Pistons. Winnipeg sits eight points back of Steinbach for first place, so the remaining matchups the Blues have with their rivals are all must-win games. The Blues are 3-0-1 against the Pistons this year.
After that, two more games in the Battle of Winnipeg cap off the week for the Blues. The Freeze may sit at the bottom of the MJHL standings, but they are a hard-working team that will pounce on an ill-prepared team, so the Blues cannot afford to take their opponent lightly. The Blues won all four meetings between these teams earlier this year, outscoring their cross-town rivals 27-7.
The Pistons matchup is at the RINK Training Centre on Tuesday, February 1 at 7:30 p.m. The Freeze come to the RINK Training Centre on Friday, February 4 at 7:30 p.m.; then on Saturday, February 5, the Blues head to St Vital and the Jonathan Toews Sportsplex for a Saturday night battle with the Freeze at 6:15 p.m.
Three Keys for the Week:
1st: Not a Lot of Rest
There won’t be any more extended weeks for Winnipeg throughout the rest of the season. With the more condensed schedule and different opponents in the same week, there will be less time for recovery, video and on-ice prep, and cooldown after big games. Everyone in the organization will need to be at their best in the toughest time of the year.
2nd: Stay Disciplined
Winnipeg took seven minor penalties in each of their games this past weekend. The Blues were able to battle past it this weekend, but that can’s be something the Blues allow to creep into their game. Winnipeg has consistently been a team that gets more power plays than they give, which has become a major piece in their success this year. Reversing that is not something the Blues can afford to do going into the playoffs.
3rd: Keep the Power Play Going
Winnipeg went 6/17 on the power play in their four games against Selkirk, including going 3/6 in the two games last week. After a rough December for the unit, the Blues power play is back to the game changing force it was earlier this season. With the talent the Blues can throw out on every man advantage, there’s no reason to think Winnipeg can’t keep this success going, but they’ll have to work hard in practice to keep things fresh.