Coming off the heels of a dreadful back-to-back set with the Washington Capitals in which the Winnipeg Jets were outscored by a 10-1 margin (much to my delight; go Caps!) the club will now set their sights on getting back into the win column as they host the Tampa Bay Lightning tonight at the MTS Centre.
Despite Winnipeg's recent struggles, fans should remain cautiously optimistic; they are still 6-3-1 in their past ten games and still claim sole possession of the NHL's Southeast Division -- albeit having played two more games than the Carolina Hurricanes.
The Tampa Bay Lightning are currently mired in a two-game losing slump of their own; most recently falling to the Ottawa Senators yesterday afternoon. In an effort to shake up the locker room, the Bolts fired head coach Guy Boucher earlier this morning, replacing him with assistant coaches Martin Raymond and Dan Lacroix in the interim.
Puck drop will take place at 7:00PM CST at the MTS Centre.
Keys to the Game:
Play with passion: Though the Jets found themselves behind of the scoresheet in both games of their set with the Capitals, they sure didn't play with any fire or passion in an effort to stage a comeback. In order to be a true contender, it would behoove Winnipeg to show a little backbone when are tasked with difficult situations.
Fire up the crowd: There have been two constants surrounding the Jets since Thursday: their play has been spotty and their fans have let them hear about it, booing them off the ice on multiple occasions. How can you best remedy a jaded fan base? Score early. Get those 15,004 voices back on your side.
Extend the gap: Three of their next four games take place against Southeast Division opponents -- two of which are with the Carolina Hurricanes. If last weeks games were "very important" then I suppose this week's slate to be "monumental". The Jets could do themselves a world of good to extend their Division lead with a win tonight.
Tampa Bay Lightning
Win one for Booch: Sure, he's not the Lightning's active coach anymore, but the Lightning have played some underwhelming hockey as of late. Perhaps this coaching change provides the spark needed, or perhaps the Bolts tuck their tail between their legs and continue to spiral into the NHL's abyss of bad hockey teams (what's up, Calgary Flames!?).
Up-tempo hockey: Considering the Jets have struggled mightily as of late, a few early goals could set the table for a very productive night.
Goaltending "woah's!": If Winnipeg thinks their goaltending efforts have been bad, then you should take a gander at how equally porous things have been in Tampa Bay. It just goes to show that +/- .10 SV% is a huge bump in the standings.
Player to boo mercilessly:
Steven Stamkos. What a diver.
Tampa Bay 1 - F