After kicking three field goals again the Flyers on Thursday, will Winnipeg dare get into a shoot-out with the highly skilled Tampa Bay Lightning tonight on HNIC? Based on the way the goalies have been for both teams, they may not have a choice. The over/under line according to Bodog is set at 5.5, which I think is attainable by the end of the first period.
The Jets rosters and lines can be found here courtesy of Brian Munz. Tampa comes into this game with an even .500 record at 4-4-2 having just lost to Mike Fisher and the Nashville Predators. Dwayne Roloson came into the game to relieve Mathieu Garon who had won his previous start. In fact, despite his poor performance last game, Garon has far superior numbers so far compared to Roloson. It’s interesting that both of these goalies are battling each other again for the starting position having already competed in a similar situation in Edmonton a few seasons ago. Roloson has a gaudy 4.54 GAA and .869 SV% which is not going to get the job done.
Another former Edmonton Oiler is having an incredible start to his season as Marc-Andre Bergeron has 12 points in his first 10 games. Having been on the NHL scrap heap on more than one occasion, Bergeron must be thrilled with his play thus far. Tampa has several gifted offensive player and obviously this is the perfect scenario for him to use his strengths as a player. In fact, several players have gotten off to excellent starts for Tampa. Martin St. Louis, Teddy Purcell, and Steven Stamkos all have 9 points. Vincent Lecavalier has 7 points and Ryan Malone has 6 points as he aims for a bounce back year. It’s easy to see that offense is not the problem for this team, keeping the puck out of their net is.
Winnipeg comes into the game in 29th place in GAA, while Tampa is 27th. Tampa is 4th in the NHL in goals scored per game. Winnipeg shot up all the way to 10th on the list thanks to the wild game against the Flyers. Last Saturday the Jets were in 29th place before the game against Carolina. 15 goals for in three games will bump your average quickly this early in the season.
In what is starting to sound like a broken record, Alexander Burmistrov still leads this team offensively with 9 points. Although he now has company and line mate Nik Antropov has really sparked the team lately and was excellent on Thursday. I did not predict this kind of performance at all from Antropov and hopefully for the Jets sake he can keep it up. Antropov is tied for the team lead in scoring with 9 points as well. Kyle Wellwood, Toby Enstrom, and the surprising Tanner Glass all have 6 points. Wellwood has been playing so well in fact that they are now using him on different lines to help jump-start the offense. The GST line has been excellent and coach Claude Noel has been using them a lot.
Admittedly I am not very good at predictions but I can say this, a win will be very difficult tonight. The Jets do however need to find a way to get points on the road and with the way Roloson is playing there is an opportunity there. Ondrej Pavelec needs to step up tonight and get this thing to a shoot-out where I see the Lightning players as just a bit better in the skills competition. 5-4 Tampa in OT or Shoot-out.