WASHINGTON, D.C. - The Winnipeg Jets don’t take on the Washington Capitals until tomorrow, but the playoff race between the two resumes tonight.
The Capitals, along with Buffalo, are four points up on Winnipeg going into their game in Philadelphia this evening.
“We’ll be watching that Washington game tonight and see what they do,” Jets head coach Claude Noel said, after today’s practice. “That’ll determine somewhat the urgency. Really, for us, you’re running out of games. You’ve just got to win. We can’t control what they do, anyway.”
The Jets have a couple things going for them, and one lined up dead against them for what is virtually a must-win.
On the plus side, they’ve played well against the Caps this season (two regulation wins, a shootout win and an overtime loss), and the Caps will be playing on back-to-back nights.
On the other hand, Winnipeg’s road record 11-20-4 remains one of the NHL’s worst.
“We’re hoping they lose (tonight) and then we’ll try to beat them again,” forward Kyle Wellwood said.
Buffalo is idle tonight.
Coming off an 8-4 loss in Pittsburgh, Tuesday, the Jets are a little banged up on the blue line.
While Dustin Byfuglien returned to practice today, his partner, Toby Enstrom, didn’t skate for the second straight day.
“Rather than waste him on the practice and not have him tomorrow, we wanted to just keep him off the ice,” Noel said, suggesting Enstrom is likely to play.
Former Caps forward Eric Fehr is not, as he continues to recover from a suspected shoulder injury.
Based on practice, Winnipeg’s third line is likely to include Antti Miettinen with Tanner Glass and Jim Slater.
Spencer Machacek is likely to join Tim Stapleton and Ben Maxwell on the fourth line.
Ondrej Pavelec is expected to start in goal.