Playoff Push #67: Winnipeg Jets continue road trip in St. Louis

The Winnipeg Jets have a little breathing room in the Western Conference playoff race as they prepare to face the St. Louis Blues on the road Tuesday night.

The Jets (33-21-12, 78 points) hold the second wild-card spot in the West and sit three points ahead of the surging Los Angeles Kings.

Already without defenceman Dustin Byfuglien and Bryan Little, Jets captain Andrew Ladd missed practice on Monday with what head coach Paul Maurice described as a “maintenance day.”

Ladd, who leads the team in scoring with 53 points in 66 games played, is expected to be in the lineup against the Blues.

Lines

Lines provided by DailyFaceoff.com

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Since being acquired from the Buffalo Sabres in a blockbuster trade last month, Drew Stafford has fit right in with the Jets. In 10 games played, Stafford has three goals and six points.

“Individually, I’ve been able to chip in and produce here and there as well, that always helps when you’re contributing to a winning effort,” Stafford told the Winnipeg Sun.

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On the blue-line, the Jets will once again lean on Tyler Myers and Toby Enstrom to eat up more minutes in the absence of Byfuglien, who is expected to miss 2-for-4 weeks with a lower-body injury.

In a 3-1 win over the Predators on Saturday night, Myers logged 26:08 of ice time while Enstrom played 24:12.

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Michael Hutchinson will likely get the start in net against the Blues. In his only other start against St. Louis this season, Hutchinson made 28 saves in a 2-1 overtime loss on Feb. 26.

St. Louis

The Blues, coming off an impressive 6-1 victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs, sit in second in the Central Division with 87 points.

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The Blues are led by Russian sniper Vladimir Tarasenko, who has 32 goals and 64 points to lead the team in scoring. Left-winger Alex Steen leads the Blues in assists with 35.

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Defenceman Jay Bouwmeester is listed as questionable for Tuesday night’s game. Bouwmeester missed the Blues’ game against the Leafs with an undisclosed illness.

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Brian Elliott is expected to start between the pipes for the Blues. Elliott holds a 21-10-2 record with a 2.16 goals-against average. The Jets are among the leaders in shots per game (28.7) so Elliott can expect to face all kinds of rubber.

Predictions

Game Day Predictions: Even without Byfuglien and Little, the Jets will give the Blues all they can handle. Their last meeting went to the wire. Expect the same again, only this time, the Jets coming out on top.

Obvious Predictions: Blake Wheeler loves playing the Blues. In 11 career games against St. Louis, the right winger has six goals and 11 points. It’s safe to say Wheeler will be wheeling again tonight.

Not So Obvious Predictions: Adam Pardy’s last goal was against the Blues in 2011. Maybe he’ll net the game winner tonight. Or maybe not.