Two teams in the thick of the playoff hunt do battle tonight at Rogers Arena when the Vancouver Canucks host the Winnipeg Jets, and the 25th Annual Canucks For Kids Fund Telethon, presented by Chevrolet. Call Toll Free at 1.85.KIDSFUND (1.855.437.3863) to donate.
It's been nearly two decades since the last time the Canucks hosted a team named the Winnipeg Jets in a meaningful contest at this late stage in the season but that's exactly we'll see tonight. The Canucks, coming off a successful two-game road trip that saw them earn four of a possible four points, aren't in direct competition with the Jets for a playoff spot as they are more focused on trying to secure the second seed in the Pacific Division although building some breathing room over Winnipeg might come in handy just in case Vancouver falls into the wildcard race.
The Canucks enjoyed a well-deserved day off yesterday meaning any hints on what tonight's lineup will look like won't come until the morning skate. Vancouver is hopeful that their two injured forwards – Brad Richardson and Zack Kassian – will be available to them after missing the recent road trip. One lineup change we can bank on is the return of Eddie Lack between the pipes after he got the night off on Sunday to watch Jacob Markstrom post a 3-1 win over Arizona.
Puck drop at 7 pm PT – Live on Sportsnet, TSN 1040, or online at tsn1040.ca.
Regular Season Record
2014.15 Season Series
Last 10 games
Last 10 head-to-head
When the Jets last rolled into Rogers Arena back on February 3, they brought the circus with them with all the drama unfolding around now-former Jet Evander Kane and ended up leaving with a 3-2 overtime loss. These days, it's all business and no clowning around for the Jets who could take another big step towards securing their first playoff berth since returning to Winnipeg (would only be their second time in franchise history) with a win tonight. Their recent run has done a lot to help their cause as they come into tonight riding a season-high five-game win streak. A victory tonight would not only mark a new season-high but would actually tie their franchise record win streak set back in November 2010 as the Atlanta Thrashers.
The Jets can credit their recent success to two things – the coming together of Blake Wheeler, Drew Stafford and Mark Scheifele, as well as the red hot play of goaltender Ondrej Pavelec. Pavelec's hot run has been perhaps the most surprising part. It wasn't too long ago when Jets fans were ready to run him out of town but during this current five-game win streak in which he's started all five outings, the NHL's reigning First Star of the Week has given up just five goals and has a 0.98 GAA and a .966 save percentage. His play has really helped stabilize the penalty kill, which has been erratic at times. The Jets have not allowed a power play goal during their five-game win streak going a perfect 15-for-15 in the process. It's tied for their longest such streak of the season.
Keys to the Game
Keep attacking on the rush. For the first time in what seems like ages, the Canucks power play has some momentum. They've scored in consecutive games for the first time since January 1 & 3. They're looking to make it three straight for the first time since October. Vancouver went 0-for-6 against Winnipeg in their first meeting this season.
Get to Hutchinson quickly. Michael Hutchinson has put up some solid numbers this season but he may be rusty having not played since March 12. He's also given up seven goals on 26 combined shots in his last two starts. The Canucks have to take advantage of his potential shakiness.
The WSS line stays hot. It's no secret the engine that drives the Jets these days is the red hot trio of Wheeler-Scheifele-Stafford. Since being put together as a makeshift trio on March 14, the three have combined for eight goals and 17 points. The Canucks need to be wary anytime these three step onto the ice.
By the Numbers
Win percentage for the Canucks against the Jets since they moved to Winnipeg (4-1-0).
Straight home wins for the Canucks over the Jets/Thrashers franchise (3 straight since relocation to Winnipeg).
Straight games with a point for Daniel Sedin (2-4-6) entering play tonight.
Straight games with a point for Jets forward Drew Stafford (4-4-8) entering play tonight.
Career game for Jets forward Lee Stempniak tonight.
Last time that the Canucks and the "Jets" both made the NHL playoffs.