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Three Storylines Heading into Jets Final Regular Season Game Against Maple Leafs

Following a two-game, series split against the Vancouver Canucks, the Winnipeg Jets will look to wrap up this 56-game schedule with one final meeting against the Toronto Maple Leafs, who’ve already captured the North Division title.

Considering neither of these teams is playing for anything Friday night, the outcome of this showdown certainly doesn’t matter, although improving to 29 wins on the season would definitely be a welcomed occurrence. Regardless of what happens, it’ll just be nice to enjoy some stress-free hockey for a change, which is something this club hasn’t be able to enjoy nearly enough in 2021.

Here are three storylines that could impact the Jets’ final game of the regular season:

1. Andrew Copp, Tucker Poolman Missing Regular Season Finale

After being held out of Thursday’s practice, coach Paul Maurice revealed forward Andrew Copp would miss the final game of the regular season in hopes of having him at 100 percent for game one of the postseason. In addition to Copp’s absence, defenseman Tucker Poolman, who’s missed the last two games, also didn’t participate in practice and is slated to miss his third straight contest, however, he’s expected to be in the lineup once the playoffs begin on Wednesday.

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With Copp out of commission, teammate Dominic Toninato will remain in the lineup for a second straight game and will skate alongside forwards Adam Lowry and Mason Appleton on the third line. As for Winnipeg’s backend, Poolman’s absence will allow both Logan Stanley and Jordie Benn to suit up for this season finale, as they’ll be paired together on the third defensive pairing once again.

2. Finish Strong Ahead of Playoffs

Considering the Jets have won just three of their last 12 games and also lost seven in a row during that same span, it’d certainly be beneficial for them to conclude the regular season on a two-game winning streak. Though this team is scheduled to face off against the Edmonton Oilers in the opening round, coming away with one final victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs, who’ve won six of the nine previous meetings in 2021, might provide Winnipeg’s skaters with some additional confidence ahead of the playoffs.

Looking to accomplish this feat, it’ll be extremely important for the Jets to come out strong in the opening 20 minutes and find a way to score the game’s first goal, which will hopefully set the tone through the final two periods.

3. Keeping Everyone Healthy

It’s usually easier said than done, obviously, but fielding a healthy lineup during the postseason is something the Jets must accomplish if they have any shot of defeating the Oilers in round one. Considering the coaching staff is already being cautious with skaters like Neal Pionk, Copp and Poolman, it’s safe to say they’re taking the right approach, but it’ll also be vital to make sure all four lines run evenly during this matchup against the Maple Leafs.

In an attempt to avoid overworking the top six forwards in a meaningless game, the bottom six forwards should receive plenty of ice time and could potentially play significant minutes in the third period, especially if Winnipeg is controlling the scoreboard late in regulation.

Lineups:

Winnipeg Jets:

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LW C RW
Kyle Connor
KYLE CONNOR

Rating: 79.5#5 LW

Mark Scheifele
MARK SCHEIFELE

Rating: 76.8#19 C

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Blake Wheeler
BLAKE WHEELER

Rating: 76.3#22 RW

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Mathieu Perreault
MATHIEU PERREAULT

Rating: 71.1#96 LW

Paul Stastny
PAUL STASTNY

Rating: 74.8#36 C

Pierre-Luc Dubois
PIERRE-LUC DUBOIS

Rating: 74.6#38 RW

Dominic Toninato
DOMINIC TONINATO

Rating: 68.7#158 LW

Adam Lowry
ADAM LOWRY

Rating: 69.2#149 C

Mason Appleton
MASON APPLETON

Rating: 69.5#123 RW

Jansen Harkins
JANSEN HARKINS
Nate Thompson
NATE THOMPSON

Rating: 69.4#145 C

Trevor Lewis
TREVOR LEWIS

Rating: 70.1#114 RW

DEFENSIVE PAIRINGS
Josh Morrissey
JOSH MORRISSEY

Rating: 74.1#29 LD

Dylan DeMelo
DYLAN DEMELO

Rating: 71.8#69 RD

Derek Forbort
DEREK FORBORT

Rating: 70.5#109 LD

Neal Pionk
NEAL PIONK

Rating: 75.3#20 RD

Logan Stanley
LOGAN STANLEY
Jordie Benn
JORDIE BENN

Rating: 70.9#101 RD

Toronto Maple Leafs: 

LW C RW
Alex Galchenyuk
ALEX GALCHENYUK

Rating: 70.8#115 LW

Auston Matthews
AUSTON MATTHEWS

Rating: 82.3#6 C

Mitch Marner
MITCH MARNER

Rating: 76.6#18 RW

Nick Foligno
NICK FOLIGNO

Rating: 72.5#61 LW

John Tavares
JOHN TAVARES

Rating: 77.6#15 C

William Nylander
WILLIAM NYLANDER

Rating: 76.1#23 RW

Pierre Engvall
PIERRE ENGVALL

Rating: 71.0#98 LW

Alexander Kerfoot
ALEXANDER KERFOOT

Rating: 70.8#113 C

Ilya Mikheyev
ILYA MIKHEYEV

Rating: 74.0#42 RW

Joe Thornton
JOE THORNTON

Rating: 72.3#74 LW

Jason Spezza
JASON SPEZZA

Rating: 69.4#126 C

Wayne Simmonds
WAYNE SIMMONDS

Rating: 70.2#112 RW

DEFENSIVE PAIRINGS
Morgan Rielly
MORGAN RIELLY

Rating: 75.3#14 LD

T.J. Brodie
T.J. BRODIE

Rating: 74.2#27 RD

Jake Muzzin
JAKE MUZZIN

Rating: 75.1#17 LD

Justin Holl
JUSTIN HOLL

Rating: 72.0#61 RD

Ben Hutton
BEN HUTTON

Rating: 73.5#44 LD

Travis Dermott
TRAVIS DERMOTT

Rating: 71.7#83 RD

Where to Watch/Listen:

This final dance will begin at 7 pm CT and be available on TSN 3 along with 680 CJOB.