WINNIPEG – The Winnipeg Jets know that December will go a long way toward deciding whether they are a team able to make a legitimate second-half push for a playoff berth.
The Jets (10-11-4) are in the midst of a stretch of 12 of 14 games on MTS Centre ice, where they have a 6-4-0 mark and are taking steps toward establishing a home-ice presence. After a lethargic 6-4 loss Tuesday to the Ottawa Senators, Winnipeg turned in a strong 1-0 effort against the Phoenix Coyotes two days later. Moreover, a club that has allowed the most opposing power plays this season spotted the Coyotes just two man-advantages.
“[Tonight’s] game is going to be important for us,” coach Claude Noel said. “We had a good game last time. Is this what we are?”
Ondrej Pavelec, who collected his second shutout of the season in a 33-save gem Thursday, will start in the Winnipeg net again tonight, the 17th time in the Jets’ past 18 games that he has started.
The Jets’ line of Evander Kane, Bryan Little and Blake Wheeler is finding chemistry after all three players endured slow starts to their respective seasons. Little scored the only goal Thursday night and now has five goals and nine points in his past eight outings. Kane is on a four-game point streak and Wheeler has picked up points in his last three contests.
The Jets will have an off-day Sunday before a Tuesday home date with the Boston Bruins.
“It would be nice to go into that day off feeling good about things,” Noel said.
Here are tonight’s projected lines and pairings for Winnipeg.
Evander Kane - Bryan Little - Blake Wheeler
Andrew Ladd - Alexander Burmistrov - Kyle Wellwood
Tanner Glass – Jim Slater- Chris Thorburn
Jason Jaffray – Tim Stapleton – Carl Klingberg
Johnny Oduya - Dustin Byfuglien
Mark Stuart - Zach Bogosian
Arturs Kulda - Mark Flood
Ondrej Pavelec will start for the Jets, with Chris Mason backing up.