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Successful trip complete, Jets focus on home record

by Patrick Williams

WINNIPEG -- The Winnipeg Jets left town Feb. 18 a team fighting to save its season. Now the Jets are back with a new outlook on their Stanley Cup Playoff hopes after an eventful 4-0-1 road trip.

The Jets (9-9-1) make a two-game pit stop at MTS Centre that starts Thursday night when the New Jersey Devils make their lone visit to Winnipeg. After a Southeast Division contest with the Washington Capitals at home Saturday afternoon, the Jets will again hit the road for another week-long trip.

Winnipeg has rectified some of the road issues that derailed the club last season, but now home ice is a concern. The Jets have dropped four consecutive games at MTS Centre and are 3-5-0 at home this season. The clubs split two MTS Centre dates last season, and the Jets scored a 4-2 decision when the teams met Feb. 24 at New Jersey.

"It's really good when you go around the city and people congratulate you on the road trip, which is good," Jets coach Claude Noel said of life in a city that was rather displeased with its club earlier this month. "I think that our players will be ready."

Andrew Ladd's eight goals in 12 games in February and an eight-game scoring streak for Evander Kane have powered an offense that struggled earlier in the season. After scoring two goals in 16 games, center Olli Jokinen has three over his past three outings.

Winnipeg remains without injured defensemen Tobias Enstrom and Zach Redmond, but goaltender Al Montoya has returned from injury to back up starter Ondrej Pavelec. A start against the Devils will move Pavelec past Kari Lehtonen into the franchise lead with 205 games played.

Here are the possible line combinations for the Jets:

Andrew LaddBryan LittleBlake Wheeler

Evander KaneNikolai AntropovAlexander Burmistrov

James WrightOlli JokinenAnthony Peluso

Eric TangradiJim SlaterChris Thorburn

Grant ClitsomeDustin Byfuglien

Ron HainseyZach Bogosian

Mark StuartPaul Postma

Ondrej Pavelec

Al Montoya

Injured: Tobias Enstrom, Antti Miettinen, Zach Redmond

Scratched: Derek Meech, Kyle Wellwood

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