RALEIGH, NC – It’s never been billed as one of the National Hockey League’s marquee matchups: the Carolina Hurricanes vs. the Winnipeg Jets/Atlanta Thrashers.
But when these two clubs face off against each other Tuesday night at PNC Arena (6 p.m.; TSN-Jets/TSN 1290) it will actually be a battle of two of the loop’s hottest clubs. The Jets, 8-2 under Paul Maurice after Sunday’s 2-1 victory in Montreal to start off this four-game road trip, will face a Canes club that has won five of its’ last six.
"Any time you win those tight games, especially on the road, the positivity goes up in the room, the confidence goes up in the room," said Zach Bogosian. "A lot of guys are feeling that, but we also need to realize that every game in front of us is also a challenge, too, and you get confidence, so sky high that we take teams lightly.
"We’ve won games by out-working teams and that’s what we have to do."
Winnipeg, at 27-25-5, remains four points back of the Vancouver Canucks, who hold down the final Western Conference playoff spot and tied with Nashville and Dallas in points, although the Stars have two games in hand. Phoenix, with 62 points, is just one back of the Canucks.
Maurice, as was the case in Montreal and everywhere the Jets land now, was asked by the media here in Raleigh about the team’s recent surge and whether it is sustainable.
"I don’t think we’ve played our best hockey yet," Maurice said. "I think there’s lots of areas we’ll get better at and some of it is through experience. We have a very, very young team here. There are players in our lineup that we count on that are in their first year and they’re just going to continue to get better. There’s parts of our game that we see great improvement and we’ve seen some real nice consistency in it and there are parts we all know we can get better at."
A handful of Jets did not skate today, including Andrew Ladd, Blake Wheeler, Toby Enstrom and Devin Setoguchi, but Maurice said he expects all of them to be in the lineup Tuesday.