Tonight's date with the Florida Panthers
at the MTS Centre figured to be a critical game for the Winnipeg Jets
But a home loss that featured a third-period meltdown to the Edmonton Oilers
earlier this week means that tonight's game takes on even greater importance for the Jets (30-27-8). Winnipeg trails Florida by four points, and the Jets cede three games in hand to the Panthers. A regulation loss would set the ninth-place Jets six points behind Florida and leave them stuck one point behind the eighth-place Washington Capitals
, who will also hold three games in hand after tonight.
While eight of the Jets' final 17 games are against Southeast Division opponents, a season-high eight-game homestand has yielded Winnipeg wins in only three of its first six games. The Jets will have a rare weekend off before concluding the homestand against the Buffalo Sabres
early next week.
Aiding Winnipeg will be the return of defenseman Zach Bogosian
after an upper-body injury cost him a seven-game absence. With Bogosian's return, the Jets, who have lost 244 man-games to injury this season, have a completely healthy roster. Newcomer Grant Clitsome
, whom the Jets acquired via waivers from the Columbus Blue Jackets
on Monday, will not dress.
is expected to start in net.
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
- Ron Hainsey
- Mark Stuart