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The Globe and Mail

Jets on verge of eclipsing .500 mark for first time this season

Winnipeg Jets defenseman Dustin Byfuglien (33) is congratulated by teammates after scoring against the Boston Bruins in first period action during their NHL hockey game in Boston, Massachusetts November, 26 2011.


The Winnipeg Jets are on the brink of going above .500 for the first time this season. But to do that they'll have to beat the Boston Bruins Tuesday night at the MTS Centre.

That's not quite as daunting a challenge as it sounds given the circumstances of the game. Boston will be arriving in Winnipeg after playing Monday night in Pittsburgh. The Jets haven't played since Saturday, a 4-2 win over New Jersey, and they have been at home for more than a week.

"Well, you know, yeah it helps you maybe," Winnipeg coach Claude Noel said Monday when asked if Winnipeg has an edge going into the game. "Teams like that know how to play back to back nights. So that's maybe a little dent maybe, but I don't know if that's going to play itself out or not, we'll see. [There's]maybe a little advantage we're sitting here waiting for them. But they've got a lot of depth, they can close out games in a lot of different ways."

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The Jets are sitting at 11-11-4 and have 26 points. That puts them third in the Southeast Division. It also puts them just one point behind Washington which is in second in the division and eigth overall in the Eastern Conference. Winnipeg has been at .500 once before but quickly fell back.

The Jets lost to Boston on Nov. 26 at the TD Garden. Winnipeg got out to a two goal lead but couldn't hang on.

"We scored early in that game, we were up 2-0, and then we didn't play well in the second period is what happened," Noel said. "We got into penalty problems, they scored goals. And they showed why they were on this roll...We opened the door for them. You can't do that against Boston. That's the disappointing part of that game. That was a game that potentially could have managed better, or could have done better... But we're a little bit more mature now and we're playing a little better so we'll see how that goes."

Tuesday's game "will be a good measuring stick for us," said forward Jim Slater.

Blake Wheeler, who played for Boston for three seasons, says he'll watching Monday's game between the Bruins and Penguins closely. "I like watching those guys play," he said.

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