Be sure to catch the JetsTV Live Pre-Game Show with Jamie Thomas, Mitchell Clinton & more beginning at 6:00pm CT right here on WinnipegJets.com and the Jets mobile app, as well as YouTube and Facebook Live.
WINNIPEG - With a playoff spot clinched, the Winnipeg Jets now set their sights on a perfect home stand.
They've won each of the first five contests, with the sixth coming tonight against the Boston Bruins (47-17-10), who sit second in the Atlantic Division.
"We're trying to get ready for the playoffs, trying to get our game so we're playing our best hockey at the end of the year," said Blake Wheeler, who sits at 599 career points coming into tonight's contest.
"(Boston is) a quality opponent. They're fighting to try and win their division. It's going to be a tough game, and all of our eggs are in that basket tonight."
The Bruins are a team Joe Morrow is very familiar with. The 25-year-old defenceman has played parts of the last three seasons with the Bruins, including five of the six games playoff games against the Ottawa Senators last April.
Over that time, he learned a thing or two about Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand, and David Pastrnak - a trio that has combined for 209 points this season.
"I would just say the tendencies that I've noticed practicing with them would give me a small advantage. But you have to be aware of wherever they are on the ice at all times," Morrow said. "They're pretty dynamic offensive players, and they'll strip you in the D-zone and go the other way with it pretty fast.
"It's like anybody else - top players on other teams, you have to be conscious when they're on the ice. Play your game, but don't let it bother you too much that you focus too much on individual players. Their whole team as a group has been playing really well, so I think that's their biggest attribute is that they play well as a team."
The 16:55 Morrow played in Winnipeg's 5-4 shootout win over Nashville on Sunday was the most ice time he's seen since being acquired by the Jets on the Feb. 26 trade deadline.
The assist he recorded was his third point as a Jet, and the former 2011 first-round pick of the Pittsburgh Penguins enjoyed the expanded role.
"It's good for the confidence," said Morrow, who was paired with Dustin Byfuglien for the majority of the win over Nashville. "It's good for trying to prove that you're a consistent player and bring whatever you can to the team. It's based off team success too. When you're winning like that, and you're in an atmosphere that the team is doing well and succeeding, it looks good on everybody."
There were no line rushes during Winnipeg's quick pre-game skate this morning, and while the Jets no longer have to worry about staying above the playoff line, head coach Paul Maurice says there is still plenty to play for.
"We would like home ice advantage in the first round if we can manage it, that's important to us," said Maurice.
"The priority would be style of play first - we play the game we want to play, stay with your identity. Rehab second - if there is anybody in our line-up that we need to make better that has something that a couple days can make markedly better.
"The last one is rest. I'm not particularly worried about it. We have seven guys that have played every game. We'll take a look if there's an intelligent way to look at the back-to-back (in Ottawa and Montreal to close out the coming four-game road trip), will say that playing in every game is a real important badge of honour for a lot of these players. It's not something they take lightly."
Nine points currently separate the Jets from the Minnesota Wild, who hold down third spot in the Central Division.
The Wild are in Nashville taking on the Predators tonight, while the Jets will try to beat a Boston team that has won two straight, including an overtime win in Minnesota on Sunday.
"One thing that's given us so much success is focusing on what we have to do to be successful," said Tyler Myers. "Focusing on that has allowed us to win games, and not the other way around, where we're focused on winning games and not the little things.
"It's gone well for us, we want to finish strong here to end the year, certainly not take anything lightly. We'll try and do that (tonight)."
Connor Hellebuyck and Anton Khudobin were the first two goaltenders off the ice after their respective morning skates, and are expected to be between the pipes tonight, with puck drop set for 7 pm CT.
Michael Hutchinson was assigned to the Manitoba Moose this morning, as both he and Steve Mason continue to inch closer to returning to action.
Maurice further elaborated on his plans for the crease with seven games left on the schedule.
"(Hutchinson will) practice and play. We think we're pretty close on Steve," said Maurice. "I've got Eric (Comrie) going in Chicago (Thursday). "Then most of this - in terms of priorities - the first one is Connor (Hellebuyck), and the games he needs to stay in rhythm to be right for the first game of the playoffs."
- Mitchell Clinton, WinnipegJets.com
JETS GAME NOTES
The Winnipeg Jets conclude their six-game homestand tonight against the Boston Bruins...The Jets came back to edge the Nashville Predators 5-4 in a shootout on Sunday evening to improve to a perfect 5-0-0 during the homestand...After tonight's game, the Jets embark on their final road trip of the regular season, beginning Thursday against the Chicago Blackhawks.
Jets vs. Bruins Notes
- The Jets have lost four in a row to the Bruins (0-3-1), including both of their games last season by a 4-1 score. - Winnipeg has been outscored 16-5 in the three games. - The Jets are 1-for-21 (4.8%) on the power play in their last six games against Boston and haven't scored a power play in the last three games against the Bruins. - Conversely, the Jets are 31-for-32 (96.9%) on the penalty kill in their last 10 games against Boston.
The Jets clinched their place in the 2018 Stanley Cup Playoffs with their victory against Nashville on Sunday...It is the second time since the franchise relocated to Winnipeg in 2011 that the Jets have reached the post-season, joining the 2014-15 edition of the Jets...With seven games remaining in the regular season, Winnipeg trails Nashville by five points for first place in the Central Division and Western Conference, while the Jets have a nine-point edge on the Minnesota Wild for second place in the division...Winnipeg's magic number to clinch home ice in the first round of the playoffs is six.
Home, Sweet Home
The Jets enter tonight's game on a six-game home winning streak...This is the second time in franchise history the Jets have won the first five games of a homestand - the first came Apr. 6-25/13...Winnipeg's last loss at Bell MTS Place was Feb. 27 to Nashville 6-5...Winnipeg leads the NHL in points at home with 60 and wins at home with 29...Winnipeg has also scored a league-high 146 goals at home this season, while the Jets have allowed just 95 goals...After going 2-for-5 in the power play against Nashville, Winnipeg's power play at home is second in the NHL at 26.7%...A point tonight gives the Winnipeg their third month this season of earning at least a point in every game at home, as the Jets went 5-0-1 at Bell MTS Place in November and 4-0-0 in January.
Facing the East
The Jets are 15-7-6 against the Eastern Conference this season, including a 6-3-3 record versus the Atlantic Division...Winnipeg has won five straight against Atlantic Division opponents and they are riding a seven-game point streak (5-0-2) that dates back to a Dec. 7/17 loss to the Florida Panthers...Blake Wheeler leads the Jets with 33 points (8G, 25A) in 28 games against the Eastern Conference...Connor Hellebuyck has a 12-3-5 record versus the East with a 2.38 goals-against average and a .928 save percentage.
The Jets are 9-2-1 in the month of March, which is tied for fourth in NHL...Winnipeg has matched a franchise record for most wins in March, which the Atlanta Thrashers did during the 2005-06, 2006-07 and 2008-09 seasons...The franchise record for most wins in a calendar month is 10 - Dec. 2000 and Dec. 2011...The Jets also had a strong March last season, going 8-5-1 in 14 games...Since relocating to Winnipeg in 2011, the Jets are 48-42-11 in the month of March.
Keeping Up with KC
Kyle Connor was named the NHL's Third Star of the Week after recording six points (4G, 2A) in three Jets victories last week... With seven goals in his last six games, including a pair of game winners in overtime, Kyle Connor is tied for first in NHL rookie goal scoring with 29 goals in 69 games...Connor needs one goal to reach 30 and pass Ilya Kovalchuk (2001-02) for the second-most goals by a rookie in a season in franchise history...Connor is seven back of the 36 goals Patrik Laine scored last season to set the franchise rookie goal scoring record.
Blake Wheeler notched his 65th assist of the season on Sunday against Nashville to extend his assist streak to six games...He joins Marc Savard (69 in 2006-07) as the only two players in franchise history to reach 60 assists in a season...Wheeler is tied for the NHL lead in assists and needs five assists in his last seven games to set a franchise record for most assists in a season.
Jets vs. Bruins All-Time Records
Overall: 22-29-9 At Bell MTS Place: 5-3-0 At TD Garden: 7-15-8