When: Thursday, February 2, 2012
Time: 6:30 p.m. CST
Where: St.Pete Times Forum, Tampa Bay, Florida
Records: Winnipeg (23-22-6), Tampa Bay Lightning (22-23-4)
Television/Radio: TSN-JETS,SUN (HD)/ TSN 1290 Radio
The Story: The Winnipeg Jets will look to play the role of streak busters tonight when they visit the Tampa Bay Lightning, winners of five games in a row.
The Jets are coming off a huge 2-1 shootout victory over the Philadelphia Flyers on Tuesday night and spirits are high so it only makes sense that they will want to spoil the Lightning’s good mood tonight in the Sunshine State.
The Jets and Lightning have met twice already this year, with each team earning a clean (no shootout/overtime) victory. The two teams are currently separated by four points in the ultra-close Southeast Division standings (Jets have 52 points, Lightning have 48 points) and will play each other four more times this season, including tonight’s game.
The stark reality is the Jets and Lightning will have to go through each other if they want to be participants in the Stanley Cup Playoffs this year. Considering that it is quite possible that only one team from the Southeast Division will make the playoffs, (The Florida Panthers are the only team currently in a playoff position with 57 points), it won’t be easy for either the Jets or the Lightning down the stretch.
Tonight is the first game of back-to-back games for the Jets, who play the Panthers tomorrow night.
The Jets will get a big boost tonight in the form of Dustin Byfuglien and Alexander Burmistrov, who will both return to the line-up tonight. Byfuglien has missed the last 16 games with a knee injury and will be a welcome addition to the Jets power play, which has struggled without “Big Buff” and his big shot on the point.
The starting goaltender for tonight’s game has not been confirmed but Ondrej Pavelec and Chris Mason may split the two back-to-back games against the Lightning and Panthers.
Projected line combinations:
Ondrej Pavelec/Chris Mason
1st: Andrew Ladd-Bryan Little- Blake Wheeler
2nd: Eric Fehr- Nikolai Antropov- Kyle Wellwood
3rd: Tanner Glass- Jim Slater- Chris Thorburn
4th: Antti Miettinen-Aaron Gagnon-Alexander Burmistrov
Dustin Byfuglien– Tobias Enstrom
Zach Bogosian-Mark Stuart
Johnny Oduya-Ron Hainsey
Tampa Bay Lightning: Steven Stamkos (33 goals, 21 assists, 54 points), Martin St.Louis (13 goals, 32 assists, 45 points) and Vincent Lecavalier (19 goals, 21 assists, 40 points)
Winnipeg Jets: Blake Wheeler (nine goals, 24 assists, 33 points), Evander Kane (18 goals, 13 assists, 31 points), Kyle Wellwood (nine goals, 21 assists, 30 points)
Tampa Bay Lightning: Marc-Andre Bergeron (back), Dana Tyrell (knee), Ryan Malone (upper body), Adam Hall (arm), Matthias Ohlund (knee)
Winnipeg Jets: Kane (concussion), Stapleton (lower body)
Who’s Next: The Jets next game is on Friday, February 3rd against the Florida Panthers (6:30 p.m. CST). The Jets end their current road trip on Sunday, February 5th with a game against the Montreal Canadiens (1 p.m. CST).
QUICKIES…..Chris Thorburn’s game-tying goal on Tuesday night against Philadelphia was his first goal of the season (predicted by @icdave on twitter moments before he scored) and first goal since March 29,2011 when he was a member of the Atlanta Thrashers….. Join Illegal Curve at The Cheer Bar & Grill (Osborne & Stradbrook) for tonight’s Jets/Lightning game…..Pick up your official Illegal Curve New Era 5950 Fitted Hat, available online or at City Haul on 823 Corydon Avenue…..