Jets ready for Avalanche

- February 19th, 2012

After getting some help on the out-of-town scoreboard on Saturday, the Winnipeg Jets take the next step towards their playoff push against the Colorado Avalanche on Sunday night at MTS Centre.

A Toronto Maple Leafs loss to the Vancouver Canucks and a Washington Capitals defeat at the hands of the Tampa Bay Lightning was well-received inside the Jets’ dressing room, but they understand that taking care of their own business is key at this time of the season.

The Jets remain in 10th place, but are only one point behind the Caps and two behind the Leafs — with 22 games left in the regular season.

“I actually had both of them on, to be honest,” said Jets winger Blake Wheeler. “It’s getting to be that time when scoreboard watching comes into it, but when we’re playing, that’s the only thing that matters. If we don’t get two points, it doesn’t matter what any of the other teams are doing.”

Jets winger Evander Kane put it this way.

“You control your own destiny at this point of the year, there’s a lot of hockey left to be played,” said Kane. “As much as it’s great and you hope it goes your way in the other games, you have to focus on yourself. I’m definitely watching the standings but the No. 1 task is here with us.”

Since a disheartening 3-1 loss to the New York Islanders on Tuesday night at MTS Centre, the Jets regrouped with a 4-3 shootout win over the Minnesota Wild and a 4-2 triumph over the Boston Bruins on Friday.

One of the most encouraging things for the Jets is that they’ve spread out the offence during the past two wins.

“Hard work is paying off and the execution level has been a lot higher the past two games than it has previously and that’s probably a big key to why we’re finishing off plays,” said Kane, who has two goals and two assists during the past two games. “The Islander game, we were up and we kind of got discouraged in that game and ended up losing it. After that game, we kind of made a promise to ourselves that we can’t be discouraged when other teams score goals on us. So far, we’ve done a good job of not letting that creep into our game.”

A win over the Avalanche would vault the Jets into a tie with the Maple Leafs, but they’d technically remain outside the playoff line because the Leafs have played two fewer games. That’s of little concern for the Jets right now.

Defenceman Zach Bogosian will miss his third consecutive game for the Jets, but Noel sounded encouraged that he might return in time for Tuesday’s tilt with the Philadelphia Flyers.

The Avalanche should get a boost with the return of forward Matt Duchene, who returns to the lineup Sunday after missing the past 20 games with a knee injury. However, Peter Mueller will miss his third consecutive game with a torso injury.

Here’s how we expect both teams to start the game on Sunday:

Winnipeg Jets

Andrew Ladd-Bryan Little-Blake Wheeler
Evander Kane-Alex Burmistrov-Kyle Wellwood
Tanner Glass-Jim Slater-Chris Thorburn
Tim Stapleton-Nik Antropov-Eric Fehr

Toby Enstrom-Dustin Byguflien
Ron Hainsey-Johnny Oduya
Mark Stuart-Randy Jones

Goalies
Ondrej Pavelec (Chris Mason)

Avalanche
Matt Duchene-Paul Stastny-Milan Hejduk
Mark Olver-Ryan O’Reilly-Gabriel Landeskog
Daniel Winnik-Jay McClement-David Jones
Cody McLeod-Kevin Porter-Chuck Kobasew

Jan Hejda-Erik Johnson
Kyle Quincey-Ryan O’Byrne
Shane O’Brien-Ryan Wilson

Semyon Varlamaov (Cedrick Desjardins)

Categories: Hockey

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