March 19, 2019

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Record: 43 – 25 – 4

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Winnipeg Jets (43 – 25 – 4)

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Jets head off on the longest road trip of the season

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 3/3/2018 (381 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

RALEIGH, North Carolina - They've hit the road for their longest trip of the season, no doubt feeling pretty good about where their game is at and what the future might hold.

Now the goal for the Winnipeg Jets should be to return home 10 days from now in as good a shape as when they left.

It won't be easy. Winnipeg will face six teams who are either firmly entrenched in a playoff spot and jockeying for position or fighting just to make the spring dance. Of course, the Jets seem at ease in enemy territory this season, collecting points in 21 of 31 games so far (14-10-7). They are 4-0-1 in their last five road games dating back to mid-January.

Up first Sunday night will be the Carolina Hurricanes, who have climbed their way into the final Eastern Conference wildcard spot thanks to a 2-0-1 run which just included back-to-back victories on home ice over Philadelphia and New Jersey. The Hurricanes surrendered just two goals combined in those games and look to be hitting their stride at the right time.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 3/3/2018 (381 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

RALEIGH, North Carolina - They've hit the road for their longest trip of the season, no doubt feeling pretty good about where their game is at and what the future might hold.

Now the goal for the Winnipeg Jets should be to return home 10 days from now in as good a shape as when they left.

Steve Mason is expected to rejoin the team in the coming days. </p>

Steve Mason is expected to rejoin the team in the coming days.

It won't be easy. Winnipeg will face six teams who are either firmly entrenched in a playoff spot and jockeying for position or fighting just to make the spring dance. Of course, the Jets seem at ease in enemy territory this season, collecting points in 21 of 31 games so far (14-10-7). They are 4-0-1 in their last five road games dating back to mid-January.

Up first Sunday night will be the Carolina Hurricanes, who have climbed their way into the final Eastern Conference wildcard spot thanks to a 2-0-1 run which just included back-to-back victories on home ice over Philadelphia and New Jersey. The Hurricanes surrendered just two goals combined in those games and look to be hitting their stride at the right time.

Winnipeg is coming off Friday night's 4-3 win over Detroit, which leaves them firmly entrenched in second place in the Central Division at 38-17-9 with 18 games left. The Jets are six points back of first-place Nashville, but six points ahead of second-place Minnesota and Dallas. It's a comfortable position to be in, for sure, but one which should keep them on their toes considering the schedule ahead.

"You've got to be careful about thinking that because you're sitting close to the top that at some point any of these games get easy," coach Paul Maurice said following the latest game, which wasn't always pretty but got the job done.

After the quick stop here in Raleigh, it's on to the Big Apple. Winnipeg will take on a New York club Tuesday which recently sold off a number of key parts as they look to rebuild. However, the Rangers are still within striking distance of a playoff spot, however, remote their chances may seem.

Then they face a New Jersey Devils squad Thursday, led by emerging Hart Trophy candidate Taylor Hall who might just be the hottest player in the NHL these days.

Winnipeg follows that up with a Saturday matinee against Philadelphia, who is in the mix for the top spot in the Metropolitan Division.

And then the trip ends with a gruelling back-to-back in Washington followed by Nashville.

"Every team now is playing for something," defenceman Josh Morrissey said following Friday's game. "You have to be ready every night in this league. "The teams and the parity...it's too good. If you take a night off or you're not ready to go, you're going to look silly."

The Jets will only have a dozen games left — eight of them on home ice — by the time they return to Bell MTS Place to take on the Chicago Blackhawks March 15.

This road trip may also begin to sort out some lineup questions.

Expect Steve Mason to rejoin the team in the coming days as back-up to Connor Hellebuyck, provided there are no more bumps in the road as he returns from his second concussion of the year. That may allow Maurice to give Hellebuyck some valuable rest should the situation allow it. Current backup Michael Hutchinson has only played two games since Mason went down almost two months ago, meaning Hellebuyck has been given plenty of work.

As well, forwards Brandon Tanev, Adam Lowry and Shawn Matthias are also expected to return soon from injury. Lowry has a place in the lineup when he's ready, but where Tanev and Matthias might fit remains to be seen. There is a logjam at the forward position these days, which is certainly a good problem to have from an internal competition perspective.

Injured defenceman Jacob Trouba is also on the road trip and is expected to continue to skate and work his way back from a serious ankle injury, with a target date of mid-March for his return. He will provide a huge boost on the back end when he returns.

mike.mcintyre@freepress.mb.ca

Twitter: @mikemcintyrewpg

Mike McIntyre

Mike McIntyre
Reporter

Mike McIntyre grew up wanting to be a professional wrestler. But when that dream fizzled, he put all his brawn into becoming a professional writer.

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