When: Friday, March 8, 2013
Time: 6:30 p.m. CST
Where: BB & T Center, Sunrise, Florida
Records: Winnipeg Jets (11-11-1 – 9th in East), Florida Panthers (7-12-5 – 15th in East)
Television/Radio: TSN-JETS, FS-F/ TSN 1290
The Story: For the Winnipeg Jets, revenge might be a dish best served in Florida.
The Jets continue their four game road trip tonight with their second game in four nights against the Florida Panthers, who defeated the Jets 4-1 on Tuesday night. Winnipeg bounced back from that ugly loss and defeated the Tampa Bay Lightning 2-1 Thursday night to get back up to the .500 mark for the second time in the last week.
Last night’s victory was significant for Winnipeg not only because it snapped a two-game losing streak but because of the individuals who played a key part in the win. Backup goaltender Al Montoya was given his first start since February 12th (Philadelphia Flyers) and the move paid huge dividends. Montoya was excellent against the high-octane Lightning, stopping 28 of 29 shots and improving to a perfect 3-0 record on the season. Montoya looked confident and made several key saves in the first two periods which allowed Winnipeg to maintain a one goal lead for the majority of the game. Winnipeg’s first goal of the night was scored by winger Eric Tangradi, acquired earlier in the season from Pittsburgh. It was Tangradi’s first goal of the year and was assisted by Kyle Wellwood, a player who has been in Claude Noel’s doghouse for most of the season. The fact that Tangradi and Wellwood have been such key players for the Jets has been crucial because of the recent struggles of Evander Kane and Olli Jokinen.
Florida enters tonight’s game on the heels of a humiliating 7-1 loss to the Washington Capitals last night. Rookie goaltender Jacob Markstrom was pulled after allowing two goals on two shots and the Panthers had no answer for Washington’s attack, led by Russian sniper Alexander Ovechkin, who had a goal and two assists in the game.
Depending on which way you want to look at it, the Jets will once again have an opportunity to take points off an inferior opponent tonight. Despite Tuesday’s result, the Jets are a better team than the Panthers this season, especially with all of the injuries Florida is currently dealing with (The Panthers currently have six regulars out of the line-up). If Winnipeg can put together anything resembling last night’s solid effort, they will have a very good shot at winning tonight’s hockey game.
Tonight’s game is the fourth of five meetings between the Jets and Panthers this year. The fifth and final meeting of the season between the two teams will be on Thursday, April 11th (7:00 p.m. CST) in Winnipeg.
Follow @IllegalCurve on Twitter leading up to today’s game.
Projected Jets line combinations (subject to change before game time):
1st: Andrew Ladd- Bryan Little- Blake Wheeler
2nd: Evander Kane-Nikolai Antropov- Alexander Burmistrov
3rd: James Wright– Olli Jokinen- Antti Miettinen
4th: Eric Tangradi- Jim Slater – Kyle Wellwood
Ron Hainsey- Zach Bogosian
Dustin Byfuglien- Grant Clitsome
Paul Postma- Mark Stuart
Florida Panthers: Tomas Fleischmann (5 goals, 12 assists, 17 points), Brian Campbell (6 goals, 10 assists, 16 points), Jonathan Huberdeau (11 goals, 5 assists, 16 points)
Winnipeg Jets: Andrew Ladd (12 goals, 10 assists, 22 points), Evander Kane (9 goals, 9 assists, 18 points), Blake Wheeler (7 goals, 10 assists, 17 points)
Florida Panthers: Stephen Weiss (wrist, out for rest of season), Dmitry Kulikov (upper body), Jose Theodore (groin), Mike Weaver (lower body), Scottie Upshall (ankle), Kris Versteeg (chest), Ed Jovanovski (knee)
Winnipeg Jets: Anthony Peluso (hand), Tobias Enstrom (shoulder), Zach Redmond (leg)
Who’s Next: The Jets wrap up their four game road trip up on Sunday, March 10th against the New Jersey Devils (6:00 p.m. CST). Next week, the Jets have two games at home, Tuesday, March 12th against the Toronto Maple Leafs (7:00 p.m. CST) and Thursday, March 14th against the New York Rangers (7:00 p.m. CST).