Tampa Bay Lightning (17-22-2) At Your Winnipeg Jets (21-19-2)
Last Meeting: March 24th, Jets 3 – Lightning 2
Broadcast: TSN Jets Puck Drop: 7:00 (CT)
The longest break in the schedule is over, leaving six games left to play and the Jets down two points on 8th, and 4 points on the division leading Capitals. The Lightning come into town with nothing to lose and a lot of changes since opening day. A new coach in Jon Cooper, a new goaltender in Ben Bishop, and a new top line LW in Alex Killorn. Yep, you read that right. More surprises after the jump.
Jon Cooper took over in time for the Lightning’s March 26th game against Buffalo and quickly went 2-0-1 before the trade deadline that brought in Ben Bishop to replace (or supplement?) Anders Lindback (acquired in the off-season for draft picks). Since then, the team has gone 2-4-1, and Bishop himself has posted a bizarre 3.21GAA and .916 sv% in six games. He’s faced an insane 186 shots – a pace of almost 35 shots against per 60. The shots against pace with Lindback in net (2.88/.903) is almost eight shots per game fewer. In Garon’s 18 games (2.90/.897), it reached just 25 shots against per 60. It seems they have found their goalie, but have invented a whole new host of problems.
Part of that is likely a new coach making things a bit disorganized, and part of it is a roster that has lost some gusto. Conacher was, of course, traded, and injuries have hit Benoit Pouliot, Lecavalier, and Ryan Malone this season. In total, 32 skaters and 4 goalies have suited up for Tampa Bay in this shortened campaign. Compare that to Winnipeg dressing 28 skaters and 2 goalies (including Scheifele’s four games, Cormier’s 39 minutes in 10 games, and Peluso’s 25 in 5).
The season series favours the Jets 2 games to 1, but as will be told throughout the game – this Tampa team can score a bundle. The goal differential in those three games still favours the Lightning 11-8. The feared Tampa powerplay is awful with their tesla coil, and the Jets are a different penalty killing team at home than away (i.e. not miserable). Still, the Lightning are as advertised 5-on-5, and so are the Jets. So it’s a problem.
The Jets need this win to stay in the march for a playoff spot, and have to take advantage of poor possession play by the Lightning to keep it 200ft from Pavelec. This game favours Pavelec’s style, somewhat, as he’ll be counted on to make a few incredible saves, no doubt, but can at least hope the Jets win in the shot advantage category.
By the Numbers
- Ladd – Little – Wheeler
- Kane – Jokinen – Wellwood
- Tangradi – Burmistrov – Santorelli
- Wright – Gagnon – Thorburn
- Clitsome – Byfuglien
- Hainsey – Bogosian
- Stuart – Postma
- Killorn – Stamkos – St Louis
- Malone – Lecavalier – Pouliot
- Labrie – Panik – Purcell
- Crombeen – Thompson – Tyrell
- Hedman – Salo
- Carle – Brewer
- Aulie – Gudas