|(39-26-5) 83 points||(32-28-8) 72 points|
3rd in West, 1st in Pacific
9th in East, 3rd in Southeast
The Stars have managed to take over the lead in the Pacific division thanks to the tank job that San Jose has pulled off as of late. Much like the Jets the Stars are in a race for 3rd 7th and 8th place as the Sharks, Los Angeles Kings and Phoenix Coyotes are all within 4 points of the Stars. The Calgary Flames and Colorado Avalanche are the other two teams that are battling with the Pacific teams for 7th and 8th in the West.
The Stars are one of the hottest teams in the league going 9-0-1 over their last 10 games. Tonight they face a Jets team that has lost their last two on the road but return to home ice where they have gone 21-10-4 so far this season. The Jets have been great at ending hot streaks dating back to a home win over the Minnesota Wild when they had the top record in the league.
The Jets now know where they stand in their quest to make the post season. For the first time in a long time the Jets actually have a game in hand on a couple of the teams in the race for 3rd and 8th. They sit 7 points back of Florida Panthers for 3rd having played equal number of games and 6 points behind Washington for 8th with 1 game in hand. The Sabres sit 2 points ahead for 9th having played an extra game and the Tampa Bay Lightning sit 1 point back of the Jets in 11th having played equal games.
The formula to the playoffs is a simple one, treat each game as your last. Win at home and find a way to go at least 4-4 on the road. Anything less than that and the Jets will not make the playoffs. Their saving grace is that of 13 remaining games they play 1 against Florida, 2 against Washington and 2 against Tampa Bay. They also have winnable games against Carolina (twice) and New York Islanders.
Upsets against the New York Rangers, Pittsburgh Penguins and Nashville Predators would also go a long way to help their push. The Dallas Stars are a team fighting for both an 8th place and 3rd place seed in a very similar situation to the Jets. Both teams will be hungry but the Jets may be the most rested team going into the final 13 games so they will need to use that to their advantage.
This is the 5th last game at the MTS Centre and the start of a 3 game stand with Washington and Carolina coming to town. If they don’t sweep the 3 games I do believe that they will fall short of the post season baring 6 or 7 road wins.
Ondrej Pavelec will be relied on to carry the load through the remainder of the season and could only get one more night off. Blake Wheeler and Evander Kane will have to stay hot and lead the offensive push and hopefully the MTS Centre can rejuvenate a power play that has gone 25% at home but came up empty on the recent two game road trip.
Keys to Victory
Be Special, the Special teams on the road were awful and they need to be much better to win games including tonight’s.
Score first. The first goal has been crucial to Jets victories, even more so at home. Score first and get the hangar rocking!
Get Wheeler going. He was on fire before the long break and getting him going right away is key not just tonight but for the stretch run.
Play their home game. The Jets know how to win on home ice and they need to play the game that leads them to regular wins. Don’t play Dallas’s game.
Zach Bogosian (Upper Body) – Questionable
Jets – Ondrej Pavelec (25-23-7, 2.78, .911) [Confirmed]
Stars – Richard Bachman (8-3-1, 2.54, .917) [Confirmed]
The Hangar is friendly territory combined with the uncanny ability to end opposing teams hot streaks and the Jets will ride it to a solid victory and keep fading playoff hopes alive with a big win.
Winnipeg Jets 4 – Dallas Stars 1