DENVER — The Jets will tangle with the Avs in a few hours at Pepsi Center. It should feel like a playoff game for the Jets for a variety of reasons.
First of all, they’re five points out of a playoff spot and have 17 games remaining. They can’t dilly-dally any longer. Also, it’s 20 C in Denver today. That’s playoff weather, baby.
A few more tidbits to get you ready for tonight’s tilt:
• The Jets have jumbled their lines for tonight. Michael Frolik, despite dominating the face-off circle over the last two games, is going back to right wing on a line with Bryan Little and Andrew Ladd. The Jets could definitely use him in the middle, but Paul Maurice figures too much line juggling has caused his team to lose its defensive mojo. That’s why everyone is going back to play their normal positions. Guess that makes sense considering how offensively gifted the Avs are this season.
• Jim Slater gets a promotion to the second or third line, depending on what you think the second and third lines are. Slater is between Dustin Byfuglien and Blake Wheeler, while the trio of Olli Jokinen, Evander Kane and Devin Setoguchi remains together.
• Jeez, who knew the loss of a rookie centre could cause so much trouble throughout a roster, like Mark Scheifele has done?
• Maurice said something interesting this morning. He noted that most organizations are bubbling over with players who have spent at least some time playing centre. So if you ever have an injury there’s usually someone who can jump right in. That’s not the case with the Jets, which Maurice chalked up to the fact they’re the NHL’s youngest team. I don’t know. Shouldn’t the Jets have more depth at such an important position by now? It’s been three years.
• The Avs will be without Paul Stastny, who has a wonky back. That’s not terrible news for the Jets. Nathan MacKinnon, who just a couple years ago was playing in the World Under-17 Hockey Challenge at MTS Iceplex, will move from wing to centre. MacKinnon is a pretty modest kid considering he’s probably going to be the NHL’s best player in a few years.
• MacKinnon last week broke Wayne Gretzky’s record for consecutive games with a point by an 18-year-old. He said he took being mentioned in the same sentence as The Great One with “a grain of salt.” Don’t know about you, but I’d put that on my business card.
• Here are the line combos:
McLeod-Bordeleau (the Avs are dressing 7 D)