The playoffs became a reality for the Winnipeg Jets after the team clinched its first post-season berth since relocating from Atlanta three years ago.
Today, the Jets will look to fly into the playoffs on a high note.
The Jets (42-26-13), who hold the second wild-card spot in the Western Conference, will host the playoff-bound Calgary Flames at the MTS Centre in their regular-season finale.
They still don’t know who their first-round opponent will be, but the Jets will face either the Anaheim Ducks or St. Louis Blues in the opening series.
Lines provided by DailyFaceoff.com.
The Jets will be without centre Mathieau Perrault, who suffered a lower-body injury against the Colorado Avalanche on Thursday.
But Jets coach Paul Maurice isn’t worried about Perrault’s availability for the post-season.
“We don’t feel right now we’re talking about anything sinister or long-term,” Maurice told the Winnipeg Sun.
Dustin Byfuglien will return from a four-game suspention on Saturday. Byfuglien has been on the sidelines after being banned for four games for his cross check to the back of the neck of New York Rangers forward J.T. Miller.
Byfuglien leads all Jets defencemen in scoring with 18 goals and 27 assists.
Ondrej Pavelec will get a much-needed rest just in time for the playoffs. The Jets recalled Connor Hellebuyck from St. John’s of the American Hockey League on Friday. Hellebuyck will back up Michael Hutchinson, who will make his first start since March 24.
The Calgary Flames (45-29-7) also secured a playoff spot with their 3-1 over the Los Angeles Kings on Thursday. It’s the Flames’ first post-season appearance in six years.
Jiri Hudler, the Flames’ leading scorer, has four points in his last two games. Hudler, among a few other of the Flames’ top players, may be watching from the sidelines today though. Calgary has recalled forwards Emile Poirer and David Wolf, which signals Flames coach may rest his stars in the regular-season finale.
The Flames also recalled blue-liners Brett Kulak and John Ramage from Adirondack of the AHL. Dennis Wideman leads all Flames defencemen in scoring this season with 15 goals and 41 assists.
Jonas Hiller got the day off against the Jets. Joni Ortio will get the start in net.
Ortio is 4-1-0 with a 1.98 goals-against average.
Game Day Prediction: Not much riding on this one aside for momentum heading into the playoffs. Either way, expect a tight, low-scoring game. I’ll say Jets 3 Flames 2.
Obvious Prediction: Blake Wheeler carried the Jets down the stretch, scoring 10 goals and 18 points in the team’s last 18 games. He’s the straw that stirs the Jets’ offensive drink.
Not So Obvious Prediction: The Jets’ scoring crown is up for grabs today. Andrew Ladd leads the team with 62 points and Wheeler is right behind at 61. My guess is Wheeler overtakes the captain today.
The Jets have a 100% chance of making the playoffs, according to clubsportsstats.com.