March 23, 2012
Sudden-death game for Jets
By PAUL FRIESEN, QMI Agency
WASHINGTON - If there was any doubt about the sudden-death feel of tonight’s game, it evaporated when the Washington Capitals earned another point last night.
A shootout loss in Philadelphia moved the Caps five points up on Winnipeg in the Eastern Conference playoff race.
So it’s win or prepare for golf season for the Jets.
“You gotta think so,” captain Andrew Ladd said this morning. “If we win we’re three behind, if we lose we’re seven behind. It kind of puts things in perspective with only a few games left.”
Making up seven points in the final eight games wouldn’t be mathematically impossible, of course.
But the Jets know that’s just a technicality.
“It’s do or die for us now,” Tim Stapleton said. “One hundred percent. I firmly believe that.”
On the surface, the Jets have one thing working in their favour, as they’ve been waiting in D.C. three days, while the Caps finished a five-game road trip, and will be playing on back-to-back nights.
Trouble is, Washington’s record in those situations isn’t bad, at 5-6-1.
“It’s always tough to play back to back,” Stapleton said. “And they had a tough game, they went to a shootout. So every minute they played we’re going to try to use to our advantage.”
The minutes and hours haven’t exactly flown by for the Jets, waiting for this game after a demoralizing loss in Pittsburgh, Tuesday.
Goalie Ondrej Pavelec, in particular, pulled after the Pens beat him for five goals, didn’t like the time off.
“I don’t like those two days. I would like to play right away,” Pavelec said. “Especially after the Pittsburgh game. You don’t have time to think about it.”
Claude Noel says the Jets are anxious to get going.
“The wait is long and tedious,” the head coach said. “Let’s play the game. We’ve got to lay this on the line. There’s no secret recipe. Just put your game out there. There should be no excuses why we can’t put our best game out there.”
It’s unclear who the Caps will start in goal.
With Tomas Vokoun out (groin injury), Braden Holtby played, Thursday.
Michal Neuvirth is also available.
The Jets will make one lineup change from the Pittsburgh game, replacing defenceman Grant Clitsome with Randy Jones.