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This article was published 20/3/2015 (2618 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
The schedule is shrinking and the confidence level growing for the Winnipeg Jets as they head into the final turn of the 2014-15 regular season.
"It’s been good, it’s been fun," said Jets defenceman Mark Stuart. "I mean, this time of year is the best. And it’s only going to get better if we make the playoffs. This is what you look forward to, these big games, and especially a game like last night. It’s why you play.
"It’s been fun, but we’re just trying to stay even-keeled here."
Fresh from an emotionally and physically draining 2-1 shootout victory over the St. Louis Blues Thursday night, the Jets opted to scrap an on-ice session planned for Friday – seven players did skate, including Mathieu Perreault and Ben Chiarot, both recovering from injuries -- and instead concentrated on an off-ice training session.
Winnipeg is back on the ice Saturday at 6 p.m. at MTS Centre against the Washington Capitals.
Maurice said the style of game the Jets play and the heavy schedule they are in – six more games before the end of the month, including a back-to-back in Edmonton and Vancouver on Monday and Tuesday of next week – were factors in the decision to go off-ice today.
Winnipeg has 11 games left and enters today’s NHL action holding down the final Wild Card spot in the Western Conference, one point behind the Minnesota Wild, tied with the Vancouver Canucks in points and just one point ahead of the Calgary Flames and two in front of the Los Angeles Kings.
"We expect it to be tight all the way to the end," said Tyler Myers. "We’re a team that believes we can do some damage in the playoffs, but we’ve got to get in first. I’m sure we’ll go back and forth a little bit here towards the end but if we focus on what we have to do, like we have been the last week-two weeks, we’ll keep ourselves in position to make a playoff spot.
"I definitely think there’s some desperation in our game given the position we’re in. It almost seems like all of us know there’s no room to take nights off."
‘Desperation’ might best describe the Jets push to a playoff spot. But Maurice doesn’t like the suggestion it also means panic. Instead, the Jets boss just wants his squad to continue to leave it all on the ice and try to extend their current win streak to four Saturday against the Caps.
"I understand the word ‘desperate’. I never thought that it accurately described what you needed to do when you are in the higher-pressure games. I’d rather have them playing confident and hard than desperate, feel good about the game you’re playing and play it absolutely as hard as you can and leave everything out there. ‘Desperate’ always sounds like you’re chasing something. Even before that puck drops you shouldn’t be chasing the game. We got back into that game down one and I didn’t think we played desperate, I thought we played absolutely as hard as we could. We hit posts, but we weren’t running all over the ice to make it happen.
"I’m not a huge fan of that desperation. It’s just semantics, I guess, of how you define the word. But I’d rather be really confident and playing with emotion."