With practically no room for error, the suddenly streaking Winnipeg Jets can’t afford a slip-up tonight when they host the struggling Tampa Bay Lightning.
The Jets entered the day in ninth place in the Eastern Conference, two points back of the eighth-place Rangers (who have one game in hand) and three points back of the Islanders (who have played the same amount of games.)
Winnipeg — with three wins in a row, and by a combined score of 15-4 — has six games left to close the gap, including what could be a huge home affair Saturday versus the Isles.
“It’s a sprint now,” said Jets winger Blake Wheeler Tuesday, per the Winnipeg Free Press. “It boils down to just over a week and a half and if you’re not able to empty the tank in those six games then there’s another issue. Our team is excited about the opportunity we have. It makes it a lot more fun to be playing for something.
“The ultimate goal is making the playoffs and we’re within striking distance of that.”
Tampa Bay, meanwhile, has dropped six of its last eight.
Report: Islanders cut first-rounder Barzal from camp
It seems Mathew Barzal has played in his last game in a New York Islanders’ uniform for a little while.
Barzal took part in the Islanders’ preseason finale against the Washington Capitals on Sunday, but after that contest the Islanders decided to return him to WHL Seattle, per Newsday’s Arthur Staple.
He was taken with the 16th overall pick in 2015 NHL Entry Draft. That selection was well-traveled as it originally belonged to the Pittsburgh Penguins, but was involved in the David Perron trade and then moved to the Islanders as part of Edmonton’s deal to get Griffin Reinhart.
Barzal is noteworthy for his skill and speed, but he may have slipped in the draft due to a knee injury he sustained during the 2014-15 campaign.
The Islanders also reassigned Kirill Petrov, Kevin Czuczman, Scott Mayfield, and Adam Pelech to the AHL’s Bridgeport Sound Tigers.
Torres offered in-person hearing, potentially setting up long suspension
The 33-year-old forward that has become known primarily for his controversial hits has once again put himself in the sights of the NHL’s Department of Players Safety. They confirmed that he was offered an in-person hearing following his hit on Jakub Silfverberg Saturday night. He declined the opportunity to meet with them face-to-face, but the offer itself is an important detail because it gives the league the option to suspend him for more than five games.
It certainly seems like the stage is set for a lengthy suspension. While Torres is not considered a repeat offender as his last suspension came more than 18 months ago, the NHL still retains the right to consider his history when deciding on this matter.
Among other incidents, he was once was banned from 25 games for his hit on Marian Hossa in 2012, although it was later reduced to 21 contests after an appeal. The NHL found that Torres was guilty of breaking three rules for that hit; namely interference, charging, and illegally hitting the head. The NHL is reviewing Torres’ latest incident for the same three violations.