The Colorado Avalanche have been disappointing to their fans all season. Realistically, they have been out of playoff contention for months, and this season has been more of a leap off a cliff, than a step back. Yes, injuries played a huge part, for proof skip down to the injuries section of this preview and count the names, but all teams deal with that and get through it. Colorado has had their biggest struggles on the back end. Last season they could run and gun and knew they had an amazing goalie in the net and some good defensive players on the blue line. Semyon Varlamov has struggled to recapture his form from last season, and the defense has not been nearly as dependable. It is a lethal combination of factors that now leaves the Avalanche out of the playoff picture and getting back to the drawing board really quickly.
If you told Jets fans three nights ago that they could get one win out of their back to back with Minnesota and St. Louis, most likely would have taken that and looked for a win in Colorado to set up a final night, playoffs on the line match up with Calgary. The Jets had other ideas, wins on back to back nights, both by shutout, have the Jets a single game away from the playoffs. A win clinches a spot, as does a loss by the LA Kings, which would be the first playoff birth for this franchise since 2007, as the Atlanta Thrashers. The Jets are also attacking the franchise records in both wins and points gained in a season. The Avalanche pose a good opponent for Winnipeg to accomplish these feats, the Jets have won 3 of 4 meetings this season, their only loss coming in December in a shootout. This may also be a game that could give Winnipeg’s first line a chance to break out. The Jets top unit of Andrew Ladd, Bryan Little, and Michael Frolik, have been slowed lately, but Colorado has been good to these players. Little and Ladd have a combined 13 points against the Avs this season, and if the Jets can get these guys going, they will have a complete four line team all contributing heading into a possible playoff run. That could be scary for anyone coming up against the Jets in the first round.
Coaching Milestone: Coach Paul Maurice will be behind the bench for his 1200th game tonight, a number he has got to with many teams and much success. If the Jets can win this one for there coach, it may be one of his biggest success’ taking a team that was expected to finish in last in the Central and compete for the number one playoff spot, all the way to the playoffs.
Close it out Today: The Winnipeg Jets playoff chances have never looked better. Two points is their magic number, either a win by themselves, or a Kings loss tonight in Calgary, will clinch a playoff spot for the Jets tonight. It is important that the Jets do it tonight, punch your ticket tonight, and you can guarantee a little bit of rest and relaxation for your injured players. Playoffs start April 15th which gives the guys almost a full week to rest, opposed to putting it off until Saturday, where you may either not make it, or are forced to play one more tough game.
Scoreboard Watching: Two straight shutouts have set the Jets up in what may have been an unthinkable position a couple weeks ago. Combined with the Kings loss to the Oilers, the Jets are just one game away from guaranteeing the playoffs. Winnipeg also still sits a point up on the Calgary Flames, and just two behind the Minnesota Wild. All teams involved play tonight, LA and Calgary meet in Calgary in a game that will go a long way to deciding who gets in to the playoffs, and who needs some help to pass Winnipeg. Minnesota on the other hand tries to stay ahead of the Jets, they will do so playing against the Nashville Predators tonight.
Ondrej Pavelec (22-16-7) GAA: 2.34 SV% .919
Reto Berra (4-4-1) GAA: 2.90 SV% .909
Clitsome, WPG, (Back) out for season
Postma, WPG, (LBI) day-to-day
Enstrom, WPG, (Undisclosed) day-to-day
Byfuglien, WPG, (Suspension) Serving game 4 of 4
Everberg, COL, (Shoulder) day-to-day
Briere, COL, (Foot) day-to-day
Mackinnon, COL, (Broken Foot) day-to-day
Johnson, COL, (Knee) out
Rendulic, COL, (Broken Leg) out
Bordeleau, COL, (Back) out
McGinn, COL, (Knee) out
Wilson, COL, (Shoulder) out
Winchester, COL, (Concussion) out
Jets get the job done, are off to the playoffs for the first time in Winnipeg!
Jets 5 Avalanche 3
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