© Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports
If the Paul Maurice and the Winnipeg Jets are serious about making an actual push to the playoffs, games like the one they have this evening against the Colorado Avalanche should not be just considered “must wins” but “should wins” .. Of the 17 games the Jets have left, three of them (at the time this is posted of course) are against teams that have a sub .500 record, two of those are against Colroado and Saturday’s contest is number one of three.
And lest we think this game result is automatic, let us not forget what happened almost a full month ago when the Jets rode into Denver with a three game win streak and got punked by the Avs by a 5-2 score. That was the start of a near disaster four game slide.
The Jets have a chance to avenge that loss tonight.
Winnipeg Jets (29-30-6)
The Jets will be a little less than 24 hours removed from maybe their most complete and honest effort of the season against the Blues. Blake Wheeler had himself quite a game picking up two goals and an assist while Dustin Byfuglien’s two assists pulled him into a 5th place tie for NHL defensemen scoring.
Connor Hellebuyck posted 29 saves last night for the 4th shutout win and while Paul Maurice was keeping his cards close to the vest, expect to see Hellebuyck in goal again tonight.
Jacob Trouba made his return from a three game suspension last night and promptly had the second most ice time (behind Byfuglien of course) and added an assist as well. It’s also not a stretch to say his return also helped bring back some stability to Toby Enstrom’s game as Toby got to pair back up with his familiar partner Buff.
The Jets and Avs have split the season series so far at two wins each with tonight’s game and a contest in April remaining.
Colorado Avalanche (17-42-3)
The Avalanche are bad. We all know this. For as bad as one would feel about the Jets, understand that the Avalanche are a bigger mess right now. That said, when you have a lineup that still has the likes of Matt Duchene and Gabriel Landeskog, you can’t overlook them either.
They are 1-12-1 on the road since the start of 2017 and have currently lost their last two in a row on the road. Tonight is the third and final game of their eastern-ish road swing.
Calvin Pickard is the confirmed starter for the Avalanche tonight. Last time out against the Jets he put up a 25 save effort in that 5-2 win.