When: Sunday, March 24, 2013
Time: 7:00 p.m. CST
Where: MTS Centre, Winnipeg, Manitoba
Records: Winnipeg Jets (16-14-2 – 3rd in East), Tampa Bay Lightning (13-17-1 – 14th in East)
Television/Radio: SUN-TSN-JETS/ TSN 1290
The Story: We will soon find out what the 2013 Winnipeg Jets are really made of.
After back-to-back home losses against the Washington Capitals in which they were outscored 10-1, Winnipeg will host the Tampa Bay Lightning tonight looking to get back into the win column but more importantly looking to stop the bleeding.
Amazingly, Winnipeg still holds down 3rd place in the Eastern Conference heading into tonight’s game with 34 points, but the Carolina Hurricanes- who trail the Jets in the Southeast Division by just two points- have two games in hand on Winnipeg (Winnipeg has played 32 games, Carolina has played 30 games).
The Jets fell to 7-8 at home this season after Friday night’s 6-1 loss to the Capitals but it is the way in which they lost which was so discouraging for the home team. Despite getting embarrassed Thursday night, the Jets came out flat against the Capitals and were down 2-0 before the second period even started. Jets goaltender Ondrej Pavelec was pulled after Washington scored their third goal of the game and it was clear that he was feeling the effects of starting his 9th consecutive game.
There will be one big line-up change for the Jets tonight as defenseman Tobias Enstrom, who has missed the last 19 games with a shoulder injury, will make his return in place of Ron Hainsey, who injured himself after taking a puck in the hand against the Capitals on Friday. Enstrom has been practising with the Jets for the last week and he was finally cleared to play this weekend. Jets defenseman Mark Stuart will miss his second consecutive game after not playing Friday night against Washington. Paul Postma will play his second consecutive game for the Jets.
In shocking news, the Tampa Bay Lightning fired Head Coach Guy Boucher early Sunday morning. The Lightning lost their second game in a row to the Ottawa Senators 5-3 Saturday afternoon and were in second last place in the Eastern Conference, with 27 points. Boucher was hired as coach of the Lightning in June 2010 and took team to the Eastern Conference Finals in his first year.
This is the third of four meetings between the Lightning and Jets this year with the season series tied one game apiece. The Lightning defeated the Jets 8-3 back on Febrary 1st while Winnipeg defeated Tampa 2-1 on March 7th. The Jets will play the Lightning for the final time on Tuesday, April 16th at home (6:00 p.m. CST).
Ondrej Pavelec is expected to get the start in goal for the Winnipeg Jets.
Mathieu Garon is expected to get the start in goal for the Tampa Bay Lightning.
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- Kyle Wellwood
3rd: Patrice Cormier– Olli Jokinen- Antti Miettinen
4th: Eric Tangradi- Alexander Burmistrov – Chris Thorburn
Tobias Enstrom- Zach Bogosian
Dustin Byfuglien- Grant Clitsome
Derek Meech- Paul Postma
Tampa Bay Lightning: Steven Stamkos (21 goals, 19 assists, 40 points), Martin St.Louis (7 goals, 32 assists, 39 points), Teddy Purcell (7 goals, 18 assists, 25 points)
Winnipeg Jets: Andrew Ladd (14 goals, 17 assists, 31 points), Blake Wheeler (14 goals, 12 assists, 26 points) Evander Kane (12 goals, 9 assists, 21 points)
Tampa Bay Lightning: Anders Lindback (ankle), Benoit Pouliot (upper body), Ryan Malone (shoulder), Vincent Lecavalier (lower body), Paul Ranger (concussion), Mattias Ohlund (knee)
Winnipeg Jets: Zach Redmond (leg), Anthony Peluso (hand), Jim Slater (upper body), Ron Hainsey (upper body ), Mark Stuart (upper body), James Wright (undisclosed)
Who’s Next: After tonight, the Jets hit the road for two road games, starting on Tuesday, March 26th against the Carolina Hurricanes (6:00 p.m. CST) followed by a game on Thursday, March 28th against the Pittsburgh Penguins (6:00 p.m. CST). The Jets next home game is Saturday, March 30th against the Carolina Hurricanes (2:00 p.m. CST).
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