Maurice calls Blues ‘best team in the league’ ahead of tonight’s game in Winnipeg

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Remember our old Tuesday Tire Pump? (It’s OK if you don’t, it didn’t last that long.) I ask because Winnipeg Jets head coach Paul Maurice seems to have utilized the format, albeit on a Thursday — prior to tonight’s key Western Conference clash against the Blues, Maurice put some major air in St. Louis’ whitewalls.

“I think St. Louis is the best team in the League,” Maurice said, per the Post-Dispatch. “So we have to be at our very best, shift-to-shift. They have been tight games because for the most part we have done that, but we’re going to need a little bit better in everything that we do.”

To their credit, the Jets nearly topped the NHL’s best team last Tuesday, when they rallied from a 4-1 deficit in the third period to even things up… only for Barret Jackman to score an outrageous game-winner from center ice with 63 seconds left in regulation:

Many thought that would be a crushing blow to Winnipeg’s playoff chances, but the Jets have recovered nicely, winning two straight while moving back into the final wild card spot (the Jets could also move to within one point of Minnesota with a win tonight and a Wild regulation loss to the Capitals.)

The Jets will need to be at their sharpest to knock off the red-hot Blues, however. St. Louis has won five of its last six and is riding a two-game shutout streak, with back-to-back blankings — on the road, no less — against Dallas and Calgary.

“[The Blues] are so balanced,” Jets winger Blake Wheeler told NHL.com. “They have four lines that can hurt you. So I think that is the biggest key, matching up, getting all four lines against all four [lines] of theirs. I think we match up well.”