December 13, 2013 Sections
Winnipeg Free Press - ONLINE EDITION
The Winnipeg Jets aren’t going to dance around it: life is good being above the line in the race for eight playoff spots in the NHL’s Eastern Conference.
Now the key is staying there.
"We play Toronto tomorrow and Ottawa on Sunday," began Jets coach Claude Noel Friday, "and you look at the point difference between the three teams and there’s very few. So, the magnitude of the games is huge."
The Jets held an optional skate Friday morning before Flying via charter to Toronto for games against the Maple Leafs on Saturday and then against the Senators in the nation’s capital on Sunday. Winnipeg is eighth in the Eastern Conference with 30 points; Toronto and New Jersey are at 31 while Ottawa has 32.
Also worth pointing out: the Jets are just one point behind the Carolina Hurricanes for first place in the Southeast Division, although the 'Canes do have a game in hand.
The Jets will face a Leafs squad Saturday night (6 p.m. CBC/TSN 1290) that has dropped four straight, including last Tuesday’s 5-2 decision here in Winnipeg. That game featured two fights and the expectation is that intensity will carry over to the Air Canada Centre.
"It’s a team we saw recently and it was a spirited game," said Jets captain Andrew Ladd. "For me, those are fun games to play in and hopefully that carries over to tomorrow night and we can use the emotion that we had in the game previously. Any time a team has been struggling like that they’re going to go back to basics and work hard and play physical, especially at home. We’re going to have to be ready for that and try to counter with our own emotion."
Goaltender Al Montoya was on the ice with the Jets Friday morning and Noel said the team will take all three goaltenders on this quick, two-game trip.
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Updated on Friday, March 15, 2013 at 2:13 PM CDT:
Corrects that Ottawa has 32