Dec 27, 2013; Winnipeg, Manitoba, CAN; Minnesota Wild forward Mikko Koivu (9) and forward Mikael Granlund (64) check Winnipeg Jets forward Bryan Little (18) into the boards during the third period at MTS Centre. The Jets beat the Wild 6-4. Mandatory Credit: Fred Greenslade-USA TODAY Sports

Winnipeg Jets Kick Off Final Week Against Minnesota Wild: Preview

It is the final week of the Winnipeg Jets‘ (35-34-10) season, and they plan to leave with their heads high, facing a Minnesota Wild (40-26-12) team that will be playoff-bound on April 16th.

The Jets return home to the MTS Centre after an impressive 4-2 win on the road against the Toronto Maple Leafs on Saturday night, while the Wild have points in their past four games, and had one of their best performances of the year on Saturday, shutting out the Pittsburgh Penguins 4-0. The two teams haven’t met since December 27th, when the Jets won a high-scoring game 6-4. The five-game season series has been won by the Wild already, who have a 3-1 record vs. the Jets this year. All-time, the Jets are 3-3 against their new Central Division rival.

The Jets could start rookie goaltender Michael Hutchinson, giving him his first career NHL start. Hutchinson is 15-5-1 with the AHL’s St. John’s Ice Caps this season, and has played back-up for the Jets for the past three weeks, after injuries to Ondrej Pavelec, and more recently, Al Montoya.

The Wild will likely go with Ilya Bryzgalov in net, after a 20-save shutout against Pittsburgh on Saturday. Bryzgalov has yet to lose in regulation as a member of the Wild (5-0-3), and has a .920% save percentage with two shutouts in that time.

The Jets are without Chris Thorburn, Mark Scheifele, and James Wright for the season, and it seems that Zach Bogosian may soon be added to that list. Keaton Ellerby is also doubtful after missing the past four games. Al Montoya is out with a lower-body injury.

The Wild’s injury list is just as long, with Mikhail Granlund, Jason Zucker, and Clayton Stoner out of the lineup. The Wild are without their top three goalies entering the season: Niklas Backstrom, Darcy Kuemper, and Josh Harding. Keith Ballard could play, but isn’t 100% after suffering a groin injury.

The Jets’ loose style of play was very impressive on Saturday night, when they put 41 shots on net against a Maple Leafs team that seemed very uptight with the playoff implications of the game. Although they were without Evander Kane, who was a healthy scratch, they were able to shake off two bad goals-against, and rally for three unanswered goals in the win. With the Wild all but locked in for the first Wild Card spot in the Western Conference, it could be a battle of two teams playing a very laid-back style of play.

The Jets are 17-16-6 at the MTS Centre this season, facing a Wild team that is very similar on the road, at 16-17-7. Winnipeg has a meager 23 points of a possible 56 against Central Divison opponents, and this will be their last game within the division this season. Minnesota has a 12-11-3 record within the Division.

 

You can see the game on TSN Jets, or listen live on TSN 1290 radio. Non-regional viewers can catch the game on Fox Sports – North. Puck drop is at 7:00 PM Central time.

 

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