Every game going forward for the time being is crucial for the Winnipeg Jets
But now the Jets (31-27-8) have company in tonight's game with the Buffalo Sabres
at the MTS Centre that concludes an eight-game homestand. Written off some time ago, the Sabres have rolled off a 6-0-2 run and can pass the Jets tonight with a regulation win and take over eighth place in the Eastern Conference.
The Jets have managed a 4-1-2 homestand so far, piling up 29 goals in the process, but have yet to be able to put distance between themselves and the Sabres, Washington, Tampa Bay and Toronto. The Florida Panthers
have extended their Southeast Division lead over the Jets to four games. Five of Winnipeg’s final 16 games will pit them against Southeast Division clubs still jostling for playoff positioning.
Jets coach Claude Noel
knows that his club will be facing a tough Buffalo opponent riding a wave of confidence.
"They're in a good place right now when you watch them play," Noel said. "They look like they play with confidence. They look like they're feeding off their goaltender. They look like they're certainly feeling good about things. They're a dangerous group."
Defenseman Zach Bogosian
, who returned for last Thursday's 7-0 win over Florida after a seven-game absence (upper body), will again miss action due to a lower-body injury. Grant Clitsome
will make his Jets debut and take Bogosian's spot in a pairing with Ron Hainsey
will start for the Jets.
Here are the projected lines and pairings for the Jets:
- Bryan Little
- Blake Wheeler
- Alexander Burmistrov
- Kyle Wellwood
- Jim Slater
- Chris Thorburn
- Nik Antropov
- Antti Miettinen
- Dustin Byfuglien
- Grant Clitsome
- Mark Stuart