WASHINGTON, DC – The Philadelphia Flyers will have a small but passionate fan club in the U.S. capital tonight.
In hotel rooms, restaurants and watering holes all over Washington, D.C. the Winnipeg Jets will be gathering and crossing the fingers the Flyers can knock off the Washington Capitals tonight in Philadelphia.
The Jets, after all, are in full chase mode of the Caps and play them Friday night at the Verizon Center.
"It’s a big game, let’s be real," said coach Claude Noel. "We’ll be watching that Washington game tonight and see what they do there. That will determine somewhat the urgency. Really, for us, you’re running out of games and we’ve just got to win. You can’t control what they do anyway, but we hope that we get off to a good start. They’re in a back-to-back situation when they play this game tomorrow and we’ve got to take advantage of that and hope we jump on them and go from there."
The Jets, at 34-31-8, are currently four points back of the Capitals, who hold down the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. And with the regular season winding down – Winnipeg has nine games left – the time is now for them to take one more shot at a playoff spot.
There’s also this: as the Jets have dropped their last two games, the Carolina Hurricanes have won four straight and now sit just one point back in 11th spot. Buffalo holds down ninth with 80 points and will also be rooting for a Flyer win this evening.
"This is a big game for us," said Evander Kane. "Washington plays tonight so we’ll see what happens in that game. Obviously we’re four points behind them as of right now and this is going to be a big game for us, especially coming off a tough loss against Pittsburgh.
"The confidence level is definitely still high. As a group we believe in each other and believe in ourselves. We have nine games left. There’s lots of hockey left to be played and a lot of time left for us to make a good jump here."
Dustin Byfuglien and Andrew Ladd both returned to practice on Thursday at the Kettler Capitals Iceplex in Arlington, Va., but Toby Enstrom did not skate. Noel said his gifted Swedish defenceman is scheduled to play Friday, but the team wanted to give him a break from the potential wear and tear.