Manitoba·Blog

5 things to watch for as Jets battle Avalanche

Clinging on to that eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference, the Winnipeg Jets look to stay in the post-season race when they welcome the Colorado Avalanche to MTS Centre Friday night.

Jets-Avalanche game preview with CBC's Mitch Peacock and Jeff Hamilton

8 years ago
Duration 2:40
The CBC's Mitch Peacock and Jeff Hamilton of cbc.ca/manitoba look ahead to the Winnipeg Jets' matchup against the Colorado Avalanche at the MTS Centre on Friday night.

Clinging on to that eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference, the Winnipeg Jets look to stay in the post-season race when they welcome the Colorado Avalanche to MTS Centre Friday night.

It’s the second game of a three-game home stand for the Jets (13-9-4), who started the week off with a 3-2 overtime win against the lowly Edmonton Oilers Wednesday.

As for the Avalanche (9-11-6), they’ll look to rebound after losing to the Calgary Flames 4-3 in overtime less than 24 hours ago.

With that, here are five things to keep in mind for tonight’s game.

Banged up blue-line

Jets’ brass may want to consider wrapping their defensive corps, at least the ones still standing, in bubble wrap.

Following Thursday’s practice coach Paul Maurice announced that the Jets would be without the services of Zach Bogosian (lower body), Tobias Enstrom (lower-body) and Grant Clitsome (undisclosed) for the near future.

Winnipeg Jets' Bryan Little (18) scores the game-winning goal in overtime as he beats the Colorado Avalanche's Tyson Barrie (4) and goalie Semyon Varlamov (1) on Oct. 26. (Trevor Hagan/Canadian Press)
“Everybody’s going to have their share of adversity over the year,” said Maurice. “We’re hoping ours will be contained to this. Everybody has to deal with this at some point, and survive.”

Bogosian is expected to miss 4-6 weeks after taking a shot off the foot in the third period against Edmonton on Wednesday.

Enstrom will miss the rest of the month and Clitsome will be sidelined for at least another two weeks, according to Maurice.

With both Enstrom and Bogosian placed on the injured reserve list, the Jets have called up defencemen Ben Chiarot and Julien Brouillette from the St. John’s IceCaps.

Buff moves back

With the sudden shock to the blue line it looks like Dustin Byfuglien will get his wish, moving from forward back to defence, a position he played for a better part of his career with the Jets prior to the hiring of Maurice.

But although Byfuglien may be equipped with the know-how of an NHL defencemen, he hasn’t played as one under Maurice, which comes with an entirely new system to learn, and more importantly, execute come game time.

“Just like getting out of my king size bed every morning and putting on slippers,” said Byfuglien on adjusting to life as a defenceman. “Less thinking. Simple.”

Byfuglien will line up alongside Chiarot on the Jets second defence pairing.

Halischuk in

What may be bad for some, are good for others.

With the injuries on the blue line forcing Byfuglien to move up front, Matt Halischuk will get the chance to jump in to the lineup tonight.

Halischuk has been in and out of the Jets lineup, playing in just 14 of the Jets 26 games so far this season. So it was no surprise to hear from the winger today about his excitement to be back in the mix of things.

“It’s always exciting to get back in,” said Halischuk, who has just one assist this season. “I just want to work hard and try to create pucks and get some pucks to the middle and hopefully we can get to the net and bang one in.”

Halischuk will play on a line with Mark Scheifele and Adam Lowry.

Bounce back for Jets duo

Wednesday’s game against the Oilers wasn’t the best showing for defensive pair Adam Pardy and Paul Postma.

Both struggled in the defensive end, giving up the puck a number of times including one that ended up in the back of the Jets’ net early in the third period.

But all that’s in the past, and tonight provides a clean slate and another chance to prove they have what it takes to be everyday blue-liners for the Jets.

“You always want to be perfect but you know you can’t be so you got to brush it off,” said Pardy, who finished a minus-1 with three giveaways against Edmonton. “You got to put it behind you and keep the forward thinking going and just keep getting better.”

Maurice said Thursday he’s hoping for a real improvement from Pardy and Postma, and despite the injuries to his blue line, you know he expects it tonight.

Hutch gets nod in net

Michael Hutchinson will get the nod tonight between the pipes for the Jets. Hutchinson enters this game as one of the hottest goalies in the NHL, even if the sample size remains small.

Hutchinson has appeared in eight games this season and has a record of 4-1-2. He currently leads the NHL with a 1.56 save percentage and a .947 save percentage.

It’s been a healthy battle between Hutchinson and starter Ondrej Pavelec this year. Pavelec remains the go-to guy but another strong performance from Hutchinson will certainly fuel the conversation of whether he should be seeing more games. 


Projected Game Day Lineups

Winnipeg:

  • Andrew Ladd- Bryan Little- Blake Wheeler
  • Evander Kane – Mathieu Perreault – Michael Frolik
  • Adam Lowry – Mark Scheifele – Matt Halischuk
  • Chris Thorburn – Jim Slater – Anthony Peluso
  • Mark Stuart – Jacob Trouba
  • Ben Chiarot – Dustin Byfuglien
  • Adam Pardy – Paul Postma
  • Michael Hutchinson
  • Ondrej Pavelec

Colorado:

  • Alex Tanguay-Matt Duchene-Ryan O’Reilly
  • Gabriel Landeskog-Nathan Mackinnon-Jarome Iginla
  • Tomas Vincour-Max Talbot-Danny Briere
  • Nick Holden-Michael Sgarbossa-Cody McLeod
  • Jan Hedja-Erik Johnson
  • Nate Guenin-Tyson Barrie
  • Karl Stollery-Zach Redmond
  • Semyon Varlamov
  • Reto Berra

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Jeff Hamilton

Winnipeg Jets

Jeff Hamilton is an award-winning journalist born and raised in Winnipeg. Jeff is a graduate of the Carleton University journalism program and has worked for CBC in Ottawa and Manitoba. This will be his second year covering his hometown team. Jeff is passionate about hockey, playing and has studied the game his entire life.

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