WINNIPEG Matthew Stafford Jersey , Manitoba — The Winnipeg Jets nailed down a playoff spot for just the second time since relocating from Atlanta in 2011, but their work isn’t done.
Next up on the agenda is locking up home-ice advantage in the first round of the playoffs and possibly the second. They can take a big step toward that by extending their five-game winning streak. Standing in their way is none other than the third-best team in the NHL — the Boston Bruins.
The Jets are virtually assured of finishing second in the Central Division, but after their exhilarating 5-4 shootout victory over Nashville on Sunday, they’ve got a franchise-high 102 points and are just five points behind the suddenly struggling Predators. Nashville has lost three straight games on the heels of an impressive 10-game winning streak.
“You have no idea (how satisfying it is making the playoffs),” captain Blake Wheeler told The Winnipeg Free Press. “The worst part of (past years) has been having to watch these games that mean a lot, both coming down the stretch and into the playoffs. That stung and, unfortunately, we have watched a lot of it. (We’ve) just been biding our time for our opportunity.”
Wheeler, who scored his 20th goal of the season against Nashville, giving the Jets five players to have reached that milestone Jacob McQuaide Jersey , is the NHL’s assists co-leader with 65.
Many prognosticators believe the Jets and Predators will meet in the second round of the playoffs. If their regular-season games are any indication, it could be a memorable battle. The Predators won three of five contests and the two teams combined for 41 goals.
While Patrik Laine has cooled off the last few games after blocking a slapshot off his skate against Los Angeles last week — he’s still second in the race for the Rocket Richard trophy with 43 goals — rookie winger Kyle Connor has picked up the slack. After scoring four goals — including back-to-back overtime winners — and two assists in three games, he was named the NHL’s third star of the week.
The Bruins come to town after defeating Minnesota 2-1 in overtime on Sunday and sit in second place in the Atlantic Division and Eastern Division with 104 points, trailing just the Tampa Bay Lightning with 106, but with a game in hand. Super pest Brad Marchand sniped the winning goal just 28 seconds into the extra period for his 33rd of the season.
Defenseman Torey Krug said he saw that Marchand had a step on his man, so he bounced a pass off the boards and let him go to work.
“He wants to be the guy,” Krug told The Boston Globe. “He’s got that edge to him. (He) wins a lot of 50-50 pucks, and when you are three-on-three on the ice and he is winning those battles, it is going to lead to a chance for your team.”
Jets defenseman Jacob Trouba, who has been out for a week since suffering a concussion against Dallas Matt Paradis Jersey , has been cleared to resume practicing with a no-contact jersey.
Two young starters searching for consistency will try to find it Wednesday night in the rubber game of a three-game series between the San Diego Padres and St. Louis Cardinals at Busch Stadium in St. Louis.
Padres left-hander Eric Lauer (2-4, 6.64 ERA) is undergoing on-the-job training with mostly painful results, while Cardinals right-hander Luke Weaver (3-5, 4.35) has won once in his last 10 starts, struggling to put hitters away and frequently running up high pitch counts.
The last start for each summarized their seasons. Lauer suffered a 4-0 loss Friday night in Miami, while Weaver was no-decisioned in a 7-6, 10-inning victory that same evening in Cincinnati as each failed to command the strike zone.
Lauer, who is in the majors because Bryan Mitchell (0-3, 7.08) was horribly ineffective, has allowed a whopping 81 baserunners (57 hits Prince Amukamara Jersey , 24 walks) over 39 1/3 innings in nine starts.
Seven of those walks occurred in Miami, where Lauer threw 111 pitches and gave up three runs in a five-inning stint. Lauer at least managed to minimize damage, escaping a bases-loaded spot in the fifth without ceding extra runs.
“It was a good learning experience for me,” Lauer said to MLB.com. “And a good mental sign for me that (manager Andy Green) was comfortable leaving me in in those situations and letting me get that chance to grow. Being able to work through those tough situations is something I need to do.”
Lauer was shelled in a 9-5 loss to St. Louis at Petco Park on May 11, allowing four homers and six runs over 2 1/3 innings before getting hooked.
Weaver, who pitched well over the last two months of the 2017 season, came out of the gate strong in 2018 with two wins in his first three starts. But Weaver has lasted seven innings just two times in his last 10 outings, taxing a bullpen that hasn’t exactly been a model of consistency.
The Reds touched Weaver for seven hits, five walks and four runs in five-plus innings on Friday, but only a blown save by Bud Norris in the ninth prevented Weaver from notching a win.
“Today was a tough one with the weather conditions and the rain Dawuane Smoot Jersey , with it getting a little muddy,” Weaver said to MLB.com. “It is one of those where you have to put your stuff down and grind through it and make some good pitches.”
Weaver has stumped San Diego (32-37) in both career outings, winning both and not allowing a run over 12 innings.
The Padres evened this series Tuesday night as their bullpen checked the Cardinals (36-29) on five hits in a 4-2 victory. Matt Strahm and submarining right-hander Adam Cimber combined to retire the first 15 St. Louis hitters.
Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said the difference between Cimber and Strahm, a left-hander who touched 94 mph with his fastball, was difficult for his hitters.
“That was unique stuff from the right side,” Matheny said of Cimber. “Most of the time, he’s using the (arm) angle to hit the top of the zone. It’s certainly like an upshoot.”
Authentic Womens Kareem Martin Jersey ,