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Mile High Notebook

by Ryan Dittrick (@ryandittrick) / Winnipeg Jets


DENVER, Colorado – Win and you’re in.

The Winnipeg Jets can secure a berth in the 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs with a victory tomorrow night over the Colorado Avalanche.

“Where we are right now, we feel like we’ve been in that (position) for the last six weeks or so,” Head Coach Paul Maurice said. “It doesn’t feel like a different day. We can handle our own destiny right now and that’s a good feeling because we like how we’re playing.”

Following a 1-0 win over the St. Louis Blues, the Jets improved to 42-26-12 for 96 points on the year, three up on the Los Angeles Kings. Any combination of two points gained by the Jets or
two points lost by the Kings in the final two games will result in the Jets earning a spot in
the post-season.

Getting here might not have been possible without the contributions of all four lines. Veteran pivot Jim Slater and right-winger Chris Thorburn, in particular, are playing some of their best hockey of the season, according to the coach. Slater has points in three of his last four games and Thorburn, with help from No. 19 last night, scored the game-winning goal at 2:31 of the second period.

“When Blake Wheeler and Andrew Ladd see Chris Thorburn score a big goal, that’s huge for them. I don’t know if it takes the pressure off them because the pressure is always on those guys, but it certainly brings the room closer together,” Maurice said. “Confidence is harder to come by
because there aren’t as many great events (in a Bottom 6 role). They get a little confidence
because they’ve earned it, and it goes a long way.”

The Jets had a recovery day today, holding a team meeting and a light, off-ice workout in preparation for tomorrow’s clash with the Avalanche.

“We needed the day to recover a little bit,” Head Coach Paul Maurice said. “Minnesota was a very fast game and St. Louis, of course, was a physical effort to recover from. The mindset doesn’t necessarily change. We’ve worked on feeling strong and feeling positive going into this last month-and-a-half before every game. It’s a down day here. The guys will enjoy being around each other, but it’s
all spending as little emotional and physical energy as you can.

“From ice level, that Minnesota game was a real high-paced, shift-to-shift type game. There weren’t any lulls; very much like a playoff atmosphere. There’s a cost to that and that’s why you don’t play back-to-back games in the playoffs. Going into St. Louis, what was first and foremost on our mind, would we have the energy – mental and physical – to play the game we needed to win, and we
did.

“We may actually be healthier tomorrow than we have been in our last two games.”

On tap: Another Central Division rival.

It’s been a difficult season for the Avalanche after winning the division title last year with 112 points. The Avs are currently dead last in the Central with a 27-31-12 record, 10 points back of the Jets. Colorado is playing better of late, however, winning two of its last three games, with both victories coming over two of the top teams in the Western Conference, the Anaheim Ducks and Nashville Predators.

“They’re playing hard,” Maurice said. “The danger here is that their skill level is very high. There is a bit of a change on their risk profile. They’re not cheating the game and are working hard, but they’ll be willing to make some plays. There’s no cost to making a mistake for them right now, so they’ll push the envelope a little harder.

“In our last two games, both those teams came to play and played hard. We’ll see more of the same tomorrow.”

— Ryan Dittrick, WinnipegJets.com

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