Rangers could end any hope for Jets

Winnipeg Jets' right wing Tim Stapleton (L) flips over New York Rangers' left wing Brandon Dubinsky...

Winnipeg Jets' right wing Tim Stapleton (L) flips over New York Rangers' left wing Brandon Dubinsky in the third period of their NHL hockey game at Madison Square Garden in New York November 6, 2011. (REUTERS/Ray Stubblebine)

Kirk Penton, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 6:34 PM ET

WINNIPEG - The only Winnipeg Jet who has scored a goal against the New York Rangers this season won’t be in the lineup on Wednesday night at MTS Centre.

Centre Nik Antropov is still nursing a lower-body injury and won’t play against the Blueshirts. The Rangers have outscored the Jets 7-1 in three games this season.

The puck drops at a special time of 6:05 p.m. CT

The Jets are in no man’s land when it comes to the playoff chase. They have basically zero chance of actually getting in, as they are eight points out of an Eastern Conference spot with six games to go, but they’re still mathematically alive. So they have to say they still have a chance.

“It’s another big game,” goaltender Ondrej Pavelec said. “We gotta be ready.”

The Rangers are trying to hold off the Pittsburgh Penguins for top spot in the Eastern Conference, and they are coming off a 3-2 win over the Minnesota Wild in St. Paul on Tuesday night. The Jets are 9-1-1 on home ice when facing a team that played the day before, while the Rangers are 9-2-2 in the second half of back-to-backs.

“That’s how you become a top team,” Jets head coach Claude Noel said. “You show up every night and you play regardless of where the venue is and it doesn’t matter … back-to-backs for them, they’ve done great.”

Winnipeg is coming off a disheartening 6-4 loss to the Ottawa Senators on Monday night in which their defensive play was remarkably suspect.

“We know that we gotta be better defensively and defend better, and if you do that you’re going to create your own chances,” Pavelec said. “We’ve been pretty good offensively. We score a lot of goals, but we have to play better defensively, especially against those guys.”

Henrik Lundqvist is expected to get the start for the Rangers. He blanked the Jets 3-0 in late January at Madison Square Garden.

Winger Eric Fehr (upper body) had tests done on Tuesday and could be shut down for the rest of the season if they result in bad news. Winger Chris Thorburn took part in Wednesday’s morning skate but won’t play against the Rangers.

Grant Clitsome will replace Randy Jones on the Winnipeg blue-line. Dustin Byfuglien (bone bruise) didn’t take the morning skate but will play.

Noel said his team will show up and give it everything it has, despite its gloomy future. He said the fans deserve it.

“Out of respect for what they’ve given us,” Noel said, “how could you come up with anything less?”


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