AND OFF THEY GO…
After an eight-day break for most of the Jets' players, they begin the stretch run this evening against the Boston Bruins. With 31 games remaining, Winnipeg is three points out of the final wildcard spot in the Western Conference and six points behind Dallas for third spot in the Central Division.
As the Jets try to get themselves back into a playoff spot, they will have their fans behind them often over the next 19 days. Winnipeg plays nine of their next ten games at Bell MTS Place and even though they are 11-11-2 at home this season, this stretch could define whether or not they get into the postseason for a third straight year.
OPPORTUNITY FOR APPLETON
Mason Appleton was one of the best players in the final game in Columbus before the break. Tonight he will skate on the right side of Blake Wheeler and Nikolaj Ehlers on Winnipeg's second line. A great chance for the Wisconsin product and also a good chance for the Jets to put together Mathieu Perreault, Jack Roslovic and Andrew Copp.
"His (Appleton's) game has improved intensity wise, what he's accomplished with and without the puck. It gives us some coverage depending on the matchup you want at home," said Paul Maurice.
"With (Adam) Lowry and (Bryan) Little out it kind of balances the lines. It puts Perreault, Copp and Roslovic, a line that was very, very good for us at the end of last season."
LAINE IS DOING JUST FINE
Patrik Laine remains one assist shy from setting a career best in that category and skates on the Jets top line with Mark Scheifele and Kyle Connor. Yet to him, this season has a lot of room for improvement, as he is one pace for 28 goals which would mean he will miss the 30 goal mark for the first time in his career.
"This is his first year playing against the other team's best (players) and that would have happened a little bit (less) if we had no injuries and you've got your checking line at home. He wouldn't have necessarily played against the other team's best all the time," said Maurice.
"But based on what we're going through Scheif's line sees a lot of (Boston's Patrice) Bergeron, (Blues' Ryan) O'Reilly, (Preds' Ryan) Johansen lines. If you are playing with Mark, you are seeing the other teams 1-2 and the shutdown pair (of defencemen). That's the major difference."
BATTLING WITH THE BRUINS
The Bruins roll into Winnipeg sitting in first place in the Atlantic Division and boast one of the top lines in hockey with the NHL's goal scoring leader, David Pastrnak. The Jets already dropped a 5-4 decision with the Bruins back on January 9th and will welcome back number one goaltender Tuuka Rask back into the net. Rask has been out since the 14th when he sustained a concussion during a collision that night in a game against the Columbus Blue Jackets.