By Scott Billeck – @scottbilleck
One team has lost four straight while the other got suffered one of the worst third period collapses in recent memory. Both are motivated and both are looking for a coveted playoff spot.
The Jets recent string of losses has the team stalled in a race they need to be leading if the hope to keep their playoff dreams alive. The Jets are now six points back of the Dallas Stars for the last spot in the wild card race in the Western Conference.
Tonight’s matchup against the Canucks comes after Vancouver got shelled for seven goals in the third period two nights ago. The Canucks went into the dressing room after the second period in cruise control, up 3-0 on an Islanders team that had all but packed it in for the night, and the year. Seven goals later and they returned to that very same dressing room 7-4 losers in one of the worst single period collapses in NHL history.
The Jets, however, remain wary of the Canucks going into Wednesday night’s game with both teams fighting to forget their most recent past.
“They’re going to come in here with the idea that we can forget that game if we can win this one, with all of the weight on the standings,” said Paul Maurice. “I expect them to be at their best.”
Maurice said he’d rather have the Canucks come in here happy rather than the exact opposite, but such is life.
“I always like them fat and happy coming into play. Never angry,” Maurice said. “I haven’t been through that exact experience but I have been in a Canadian city when you have had a tough one and the airplane is the happiest thing you see the next day.”
Blake Wheeler, who has just one goal in his last 11 games, said the focus must remain on his own club’s struggles as of late.
“We have had a rough patch of our own; we are a motivated group on our side,” said Blake Wheeler. “For us, we feel that if we bring what we brought last game, we work as hard as we did last game, we should have a good chance to win every night.”
Meanwhile, centre Eric O’Dell has been recalled by the Jets from their AHL affiliate St. John’s IceCaps. O’Dell will replace centre John Albert who picked up an upper body injury in the Jets 3-2 overtime loss to the Avalanche on Monday night.
“I’m excited to get the call and ready to get in the lineup and show what I got,” said O’Dell who has 38 points, including 16 goals, in 39 games for the IceCaps this season. “Going down there I got my confidence back up. I’ve just got to keep it simple, play with some confidence and stick to the game plan.
“I want to be skating and I’ll be hitting guys and hopefully I can pot some goals as well.”
Chris Thorburn also draws back into the lineup tonight after missing three games due to an upper body injury while Ondrej Pavelec will make his return to the Jets’ crease after take a game off in Denver on Monday night.