Playoff Push #78: Jets battle for post-season lives against Canucks

Back-to-back heartbreaking losses has the Winnipeg Jets on the outside of the playoff picture looking in.

The Jets will try to get back into post-season position when they host the Vancouver Canucks on Saturday.

Winnipeg (39-26-12) has 90 points but slipped out of the final wild-card berth after the Los Angeles Kings’ victory over the Edmonton Oilers on Thursday.

With just five games left in the regular season, there’s no room left for error.

“Mathematically, we hold our playoff destiny in our own hands,” Jets coach Paul Maurice told the team’s official website. “You can say what you want about other teams’ opponents or ours, but the puck is going to drop and away we go. 

Lines

Lines provided by DailyFaceoff.com

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Drew Stafford’s career-best nine-game scoring streak came to an end after the Jets’ 3-2 loss to the New York Rangers. Stafford had four goals and three assists in that span.

Captain Andrew Ladd still leads the team in scoring with 61 points. Blake Wheeler took over the team lead in goals with 25.

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Jets top defenceman Dustin Byfuglien will serve the first of a four-game suspension for his cross check to the back of J.T. Millers head. Maurice believes the league made the right call by suspending Byfuglien for the cross check and told the Jets’ website that Big Buff wasn’t “feeling too good about himself” after the ruling.

“At the end of the day, we’re responsible for our own actions. It was a cross check and a dangerous one. I don’t have a problem with the suspension. … We did something we shouldn’t do. We’ll pay the price and move on.”

With Byfuglien out, Jay Harrison will draw back into the lineup and play alongside Adam Pardy.

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Ondrej Pavelec will once again the call between the pipes. Despite losing back-to-back starts, Pavelec is on pace to set new career bests in goals against average (2.73) and save percentage (.914).

Vancouver

The Canucks (45-28-5) have 95 points and are looking to lock down second place in the Pacific Division.

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Daniel Sedin — the Canucks’ leading scorer — has been held pointless the last two games. Daniel has 16 goals and 52 assists, while twin brother is right behind with 17 goals and 49 assists.

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Alexander Edler has seven goals and 23 points to lead all Canucks defencemen in scoring.

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With starting goalie Ryan Miller still sidelined with a lower-body injury, Eddie Lack will get the call in net for the Canucks.

Lack has a 16-12-4 record with a 2.49 goals against average.

Predictions

Game Day Prediction: Two crushing defeats and sitting out of the playoff picture, be sure the Jets will come out hungry for two points. Jets 5 Canucks 2.

Obvious Predictions: The Canucks’ offence runs through the twins. Keep Daniel and Hank in check and it should be smooth sailing to two points for the Jets.

Not So Obvious Predictions: Blake Wheeler has played his best hockey against Pacific Division opponents. The speedy winger has nine goals and 11 assists in 19 games against Pacific teams. Will he continue this trend today?

Playoff Chances

The Jets have a 47.2% chance of making the playoffs, according to clubsportsstats.com.

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