The Winnipeg Jets will begin their second round playoff series with the Nashville Predators on Friday. News came late Tuesday afternoon that the Jets would indeed start their best-of-seven matchup Friday evening at 7:00 P.M. local time.
The six potential remaining games have yet to have their dates and start times announced, but the location of the playoff games has already been determined.
As the second best team in the league (114 points), one would anticipate the Jets holding home-ice advantage for the playoffs, but with the NHL's new Wild-Card styled postseason, Winnipeg was granted no such luck, drawing the only team with a higher point total as their Western Conference Semifinal competition.
Nashville will host Winnipeg in games one and two, before the series shifts to Manitoba for the third and fourth game. If needed, games five and seven would be held in Tennessee, while Winnipeg would host a potential game six. Winnipeg went 2-3 against Nashville in the 2017-18 regular season.
In a second round series destined for greatness, the Jets and Preds (first and third best offences in the west) will meet up for seven games or less, in a showdown that comes about a month too early.
Featuring Vezina Trophy finalists in net, young, explosive offences up front, highly physical defenders manning the blueline, strong willed coaches behind the bench, and arenas/street parties ready to support their home teams at all costs, this series should provide the highest level of entertainment in the 2018 Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Leading the way for Winnipeg is Mark Scheifele (four goals, one assist), Dustin Byfuglien (five assists) and Connor Hellebuyck (4-1, 1.94 GAA, .924 SP), while Nashville counters with Colton Sissons (three goals, four assists), Mattias Ekholm (one goal, five assists) and Pekka Rinne (4-2, 2.60 GAA, .909 SP).
Paul Maurice holds a career record of 29-33 in the postseason, with one trip to the Stanley Cup Finals (2001-02 in Carolina), while Peter Laviolette (70-60 in the playoffs) has been to the Stanley Cup three times, winning once in 2005-06.
This gargantuan series will certainly be a matchup of forwards, defencemen, goaltenders, coaches, and most importantly fans. The Winnipeg Whiteout will square off against the Sea of Gold Friday evening, 7:00 P.M. central.
By Carter Brooks
Photos by James Carey Lauder