The clock is ticking on the Winnipeg Jets season and it’s safe to say their playoff hopes are on life support.
They’re not quite to the flatlining stage just yet, but trailing the Washington Capitals and Buffalo Sabres by six points with seven games to go, the Jets understand the task ahead of them as they welcome the Ottawa Senators to MTS Centre on Monday night.
The Senators are in a battle of their own and just two points up on both the Caps and Sabres as the regular season winds down.
“It’s definitely do or die now. You have to keep pushing forward and we have to do whatever it takes to get the two points,” said Jets defenceman Zach Bogosian. “You have to make sure you stay up. Everyone knows what’s at stake. At this point in the season, everyone is kind of running on adrenaline. When you lose, you slide it out the backdoor and look toward the next game. You can’t dwell on the last game.
“We have to play the rest of the season as desperate hockey. Every shift has to be 110%. Whether we make the playoffs or not, we’re going to strive to win every game possible.”
Despite the odds being stacked against them, the Jets are doing their best to stay upbeat.
“We’re not out, so that’s the bottom line,” said Jets forward Tim Stapleton. “No one said we’re out. That’s the only way you can stay positive. There’s hope. It’s definitely doable.”
Jets head coach Claude Noel isn’t about to heap any additional pressure on his team.
“There’s no sense in making it a bigger mountain than it is,” said Noel. “For us, the bump in the road is the opponent. That’s it.
“I’m not going to sit there and be a mathematician trying to figure out if they win, if we win, if they win. There’s enough for me to do.”
Part of what the Jets will try to do on Monday is limit the production of Jason Spezza (31 goals, 78 points), Milan Michalaek (33 goals, 56 points), captain Daniel Alfredsson (24 goals, 54 points) and Norris Trophy candidate Erik Karlsson, who leads all D-men with 19 goals and 73 points.
Ondrej Pavelec makes his 12th consecutive start for the Jets, while Craig Anderson is in goal for the Sens.
Jets centre Nik Antropov (lower-body) skated with his teammates on Monday, but remains day-to-day and Noel suggested he was doubtful for Wednesday’s game with the New York Rangers. Winger Eric Fehr (upper-body) is also day-to-day.
Rounding out the injuries, right-winger Chris Thorbrun (lower-body) is progressing nicely and ahead of schedule.
Noel expects Thorburn to skate with the Jets on Wednesday and both players could be on the upcoming four-game road trip.
Senators head coach Paul MacLean said goalie Ben Bishop will be out two weeks with a lower-body issue.
Here’s how we expect both teams to start:
Andrew Ladd-Bryan Little-Blake Wheeler
Evander Kane-Alex Burmistrov-Kyle Wellwood
Tanner Glass-Jim Slater-Antti Miettinen
Tim Stapleton-Ben Maxwell-Spencer Machacek
Toby Enstrom-Dustin Byguflien
Ron Hainsey-Zach Bogosian
Mark Stuart-Randy Jones
Ondrej Pavelec (Chris Mason)
Colin Greening-Jason Spezza-Milan Michalek
Nick Foligno-Kyle Turris-Daniel Alfredsson
Rob Klinkhammer-Jim O’Brien-Chris Neil
Kaspars Daugavins-Zack Smith-Erik Condra
Filip Kuba-Erik Karlsson
Jared Cowen-Sergei Gonchar
Chris Phillips-Matt Carkner
Craig Anderson (Alex Auld)