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Points key as Rangers, Jets look to end slumps

by Patrick Williams

WINNIPEG -- The New York Rangers need points to tighten their grip on a Stanley Cup Playoff spot in the Eastern Conference spot while the Winnipeg Jets simply need points to remain in contention in the Western Conference.

The teams play at MTS Centre on Friday looking to halt recent skids.

The Rangers arrived after a 2-1 road loss against the Minnesota Wild on Thursday needing to improve on a 4-5-1 record in their past 10 games. This game will end a three-game road trip that is 0-2-0 so far.

The Rangers are attempting to push past the Columbus Blue Jackets into second place in the Metropolitan Division and establish some distance between them and a number of Eastern Conference teams still in contention for wild-card spots. The Rangers and Blue Jackets enter play with 74 points; the Blue Jackets are in second place by virtue of having played one fewer game than the Rangers.

The Rangers did not hold a morning skate Friday.

The Jets' 0-2-3 slide over the past 10 days has halted the progress they made after coach Paul Maurice replaced Claude Noel on Jan. 12. The Jets have not won at home since Feb. 27 and have fallen five points behind the Dallas Stars for the second wild-card spot in the Western Conference.

"You have no choice," said Jets goaltender Ondrej Pavelec about looking beyond the slump. "You have to look forward because you can't change that. You can change what happens next. That's our goal and that's what we want to do."

Discipline issues have tested the Jets' fifth-ranked penalty kill lately. The Jets have been shorthanded 11 times in the past two games. Though they've killed all 11 opposing power plays, captain Andrew Ladd said he wants the discipline to improve.

"It can just kill momentum," Ladd said of the Jets' penalty trouble. "Luckily we've done a great job and get some big kills and actually get some momentum off them. But eventually they're going to start going in."

Ladd, who ranks third on the Jets with 18 goals, will play his 600th NHL game.

"He's a quiet leader," Maurice said of Ladd. "His play is clearly his defining role. There is no fear in his game. He's clearly not running around chasing heavyweights around, but he's honest and hard. In some ways in terms of approach he's a forward version of Mark Stuart in what he is willing to do for the hockey team. And he can put some pucks in the net for you too.

"The pressure in where we're at [in the standings] always shifts to those guys. Playing hard is not enough in [the NHL]. Everybody plays hard. You have to compete and you have to produce. He [Ladd] is a guy who is capable of leading in that manner."

Maurice said after the morning skate his lineup will not change from Wednesday, a 3-2 shootout loss to the Vancouver Canucks.

It is expected goalie Henrik Lundqvist will start for the Rangers. Pavelec will make his seventh start in the Jets' past eight games.

Here are the projected lineups for the Rangers and Jets:


Chris Kreider - Derek Stepan - Rick Nash

Carl Hagelin - Brad Richards - Martin St. Louis

Benoit Pouliot - Derick Brassard - Mats Zuccarello

Brian Boyle - Dominic Moore - Daniel Carcillo

Ryan McDonagh - Dan Girardi

Marc Staal - Anton Stralman

John Moore - Kevin Klein

Henrik Lundqvist

Cam Talbot

Scratched: Raphael Diaz, Derek Dorsett, Justin Falk


Andrew Ladd - Bryan Little - Michael Frolik

Evander Kane - Olli Jokinen - Devin Setoguchi

Dustin Byfuglien - Jim Slater - Blake Wheeler

Chris Thorburn - Eric O'Dell - Anthony Peluso

Zach Bogosian - Tobias Enstrom

Mark Stuart - Jacob Trouba

Adam Pardy - Keaton Ellerby

Ondrej Pavelec

Al Montoya

Scratched: Matt Halischuk, Paul Postma, Eric Tangradi

Injured: John Albert (upper body), Grant Clitsome (back), Mark Scheifele (knee), James Wright (ankle)

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