The Jets have a huge game tonight to kick off the month of March. Winnipeg is currently four points behind the Southeast Division leading Florida Panthers (it still sounds weird, doesn’t it?) and needs a victory tonight to keep pace with the Cats, who have three games in-hand on the Jets.
After some miscues defensively on Monday against the Oilers, Zach Bogosian will be a welcome addition to tonight’s lineup after missing some time with an upper-body injury. Bogo will be reunited with his partner Ron Hainsey and will ease the load that he, Dustin Byfuglien, Tobias Enstrom and Mark Stuart were carrying. Byfuglien skated a little more than 28 minutes last game so another reliable body on the back end definitely helps there. Moreover, the PK minutes against the Oilers were predominantly shared by Stuart and Hainsey. This is another instance where Bogosian can help out. Reports from Wednesday’s practice said that Bogosian’s wrist was taped up, so that’s something to keep an eye on, especially if it gets slashed a few times.
Grant Clitsome will not be making his debut just yet. Even though he is healthy, Claude Noel does not want him rushed into the lineup. Maybe Randy Jones left some money on Noel’s desk or something? Regardless, we’ll have to wait and see how Clitsome impacts the team.
Big Buff has absolutely been on fire. He has a five-game point streak going in which he’s had two points per game. On top of that, he has 17 points in his last 10 outings. He’s been great on the PP and has been making some fantastic passes (see: Monday vs. EDM) of late. Although he has 8 points in 13 career games against Florida, he has yet to notch one against the Panthers this season, so it’ll be nice to get one tonight and keep that streak going.
Winnipeg will catch a break when the Panthers take the ice as they’ll be without Kris Versteeg, who has torched the Jets all season. Versteeg has six goals and two assists in four games between these two clubs.
With just 17 games remaining, the Jets will need every point they can get if they want to make the playoffs. Tonight’s game could be a big step in the right direction.