The Winnipeg Jets (13-13-4) finish off their 6-game, 14 day road trip on Saturday night against the Tampa Bay Lightning (17-10-1) who have been doing great despite losing more players to injury by the game.
The Jets and Lightning haven’t met since April 16th of 2013, where the hometown Jets sneaked one past Tampa Bay in a 4-3 shootout win. All-time, the Jets hold a 6-2-2 record against the Lightning.
During their road trip, the Jets have gone 3-2, winning a game many thought they would lose against the New York Rangers, then doing the exact opposite against the Florida Panthers on Thursday night, dropping a 5-2 decision. The Lightning have continued their surprising season, winning 3 of their last 5 games, including their most recent action, a 3-1 victory over the Ottawa Senators.
It will be a battle of the back-ups in net on Saturday. Anders Lindback will start for the Lightning, posting a .876% Save Percentage and a 3.26 GAA in 8 games this season. At the other end will be Al Montoya for the Jets, who has put up a .916% Save Percentage and a 2.42 GAA in seven appearances this year.
The Lightning’s injury list keeps getting longer, and they will bring a banged-up roster into Saturday’s game. The Lightning are without Pierre-Cedric Labrie, Keith Aulie, Ryan Malone, Taylor Pyatt, Brian Lee, and Matthias Ohlund, who are all on the Injured Reserve. They will also be missing Radko Gudas, Eric Brewer, and Victor Hedman, who are all in varying stages of rehab, and are listed as day-to-day. Namely, the Lightning are missing C Steven Stamkos, who broke his leg in November. The Jets have D Paul Postma, D Zach Bogosian, and D Jim Slater on the IR, who are all without a set timetable for a return. Evander Kane, who has missed the last three Jets’ games with a lower-body injury, is unlikely to return Saturday, and is listed as day-to-day.
The Jets will have to take advantage of a weakened defensive core, and penetrate the zone early and often. Lindback’s stats have not been very good this season, and if the Jets direct a lot of shots at the goal, they will have a good chance to win tonight. The Jets’ defense will have to take care of Martin St. Louis, who has scored the second-most goals against the Jets/Thrashers by a single player (Alexander Ovechkin).
The Jets are 6-7-1 on the road this season, but have fared well against their Eastern Conference opponents, with a 7-3-1 record. Tampa Bay is 11-3-0 at home this season, winning 8 of their last 9 games at the Tampa Bay Times Forum.
Saturday’s game will be broadcasted on Hockey Night In Canada. You can also tune in on TSN 1290 AM. Puck Drop from Florida is 6:00 PM Central Time.
Thanks for reading. For more Winnipeg Jets conversation and live game updates follow us on twitter @hkyattheforks.