WINNIPEG – Home ice advantage comes with its perks.

On Sunday and Tuesday, Rick Bowness will be able to run his top checking line of Adam Lowry, Nino Niederreiter and Mason Appleton against the Nathan MacKinnon trio. However, the Jets captain said it isn’t that cut and dry and that the team will have to rely on their depth up front.

“I think the thing with players like that, Rantanen, Makar, they play so many minutes that you can’t rely on just one line. That’s what’s kind of has been so good about our team this year, we’ve been able to play different lines against the high-end players and have some success,” said Lowry.

“When you have a guy (MacKinnon) that plays as many minutes as he does, you’re going to need to have awareness up and down the lineup that when you’re on the ice against him kind of how to mitigate his chances.”

Josh Morrissey is no stranger to facing the other team’s best forwards over his NHL career. The 30-year-old and his defence partner Dylan DeMelo will also have a heavy dose of MacKinnon and company throughout the series.

“As mentioned, Lowry's line often gets tasked with that assignment to play against the top guys,” said Morrissey.

“And as a back end, whether it's Mel and I or whoever it is back there, including up front, seven-game series, you're not always going to get the matchup you want or the ideal situation. There are a lot of fluid parts to the game of hockey.”

Mark Scheifele will have a part to play in this as well. The Jets top centreman, Kyle Connor and Gabriel Vilardi will likely get the Avalanche’s best unit when Lowry’s line isn’t out there.

“He’s a guy we’ve got to watch out for. He’s had a fantastic year, and this team has won before, and he was a big reason for that. For me, it’s just a matter of getting excited,” said Scheifele.

“Having a guy like him on the other side is just extra motivation to be even better and be even more sharp each and every shift. I’m just excited for that battle.”

Bowness expects Jared Bednar to play MacKinnon 24-25 minutes a night and possibly more.

‘It’s on-ice awareness for when Nate is on the ice, whoever is out there. 

It’s almost been six years since the Jets went toe-to-toe with the Nashville Predators in the second round of the 2018 Stanley Cup Playoffs. The top two teams in the NHL that year exchanged wins until Winnipeg wrapped things up with a huge 5-1 win at Bridgestone Arena in Game 7.

“I think that was a pretty prime example of how playoff hockey is. It's, win-loss, win-loss. It's how you deal with the previous loss and how you deal with the previous win,” said Scheifele.

“How you adjust when they're doing things that are better than you and how you adjust when we're doing better things than them. It’s gonna be a roller coaster.” 


Bowness would not elaborate on Friday what his plans were with regards to Morgan Barron’s replacement to start the series. Barron is out with a lower-body injury and won’t take part of Game 1. During line rushes on Saturday, there was David Gustafsson on the left side of Vladislav Namestnikov and Alex Iafallo. All signs point to the Swedish forward being in the lineup on Sunday and he certainly helped his cause with the way he played in Dallas and Denver during the Jets final road trip of the regular season.

“He played very well in the games that we asked him to play. Vladdy’s not great on the faceoffs, David’s better on the faceoffs,” said Bowness.

“He’s a good fit with that line, he can play centre, he can play left wing much like Vladdy can. But he’s earned that spot with the way he played in those games.”