The Winnipeg Jets still have a chance to make the playoffs, but they face a must-win season finale and would also need some help. The Jets take on the Montreal Canadiens on Thursday night, and with a win could jump the New York Rangers and Ottawa Senators in the standings. The Jets are the first team to finish out the season schedule, and if they win tonight it will be a tense waiting game to see if a team ahead of them falters and opens the door.
The Jets have lost to the Canadiens in both prior meetings this season, surrendering four goals in each of those games. They will need an amazing night in goal from Ondrej Pavelec, who has turned in some of his best work of this season in the past two weeks. This could be the night for a player like Evander Kane to shine, as he tries to reach the playoffs for the first time. The experience of a former Stanley Cup champion like Andrew Ladd should help settle down an anxious locker room, keeping the focus on the task at hand.
The Jets’ power play has been one of their best assets on their recent run, converting in five of the past six games. Tonight they match up with a Canadiens penalty kill unit that ranks 25th in the league, so there is definitely a chance for continued power play success. The defense will be missing Zach Bogosian, which has left Dustin Byfuglien playing on a top pairing alongside Derek Meech. The Canadiens offense has proven difficult to play against this season, and nothing short of a complete team effort will keep the Jets’ playoff hopes alive.