This time I mean it. This time is legit. The Jets are going to TRY to bounce back after going winless in their last 5 games. They get to do it on home ice against a team that plays highly entertaining hockey: the Tampa Bay Lightning. Now if the Jets don't want to give an effort, which they seemingly haven't the past two games, taking a page out of Coburn's playbook and standing there and doing nothing is going to look mighty tempting. But I assure you, this is not how Winnipeg is going to win games. The Jets held the Bolts to just 1 goal against in their last meeting, but unfortunately that's all it took as the sputtering offense refused to take flight.
Now, from what I heard, this last game was close to being a disgrace to hockey. It sucked. It really sucked. Yea Moe, that team sure did suck Saturday night. They just plain sucked! I mean, I've seen teams suck before, but they were the suckiest bunches of suck that ever sucked! So I'm hoping for better results lest I and 15,000 of my closest friends get angry.
Now I know some of you are thinking "Hey canadian texan, aren't you partially responsible for that last loss, seeing as you both didn't watch AND ATE A SANDWICH DURING A GAME?!" and the answer sadly is less. I have let down my fellow Jets fans every where, and for that I am truly sorry. I shall try to make amends by cheering my lungs out at MTS Centre tomorrow. Never again...on game day...even if the culprit is especially delicious.
Keys to the Game, Lineups and Player Numbers after the jump.
Keys to the Game:
Now, I didn't even do the Jets the courtesy of watching the *cough* "highlights" of this past beauty, so I could pretty much copy paste the last keys to the game if I wanted to. But I will do my best to provide the Jets a list of things to focus on if they wish to let me leave the arena without blood lust.
- Effort: It really has to be there. Hopefully the call-ups from the minors provide a bit of a spark for the lackluster Jets. I don't know how a team can play better on a 7 game road trip than they can at home but that has seemingly become the case (yes I know that last gem was in Columbus)
- Special teams: Yes the penalty kill did not allow a goal on 4 chances last game, which is an improvement. But yet again the powerplay stepped up to the plate and struck out, batting 0 for 5. Something has to be done there. I'm looking at you Pascal Vincent.
- Faceoffs: It's bad. It's REALLY bad. 47.7% of the draws Winnipeg has taken this year have actually been won by the Jets. This number seems high to me, but that's besides the point. The Jets have this nasty tendency of losing the draws they really need to win, or they win them right out of the zone on power plays. This is a weakness that needs to be fixed going forward if the special teams and team as a whole is to find success.
- Goaltending: I watched the highlights since I started writing this preview. Pavelec could potentially be seen as at fault on the second goal, but I would rather point the finger at Buff and Stu. Which I don't want to do because Stuart is in my top 1 favorite players on the team.
- Capitalize: It's one thing to get 36 shots on goal, it's another thing entirely to make sure that those shots come on good quality chances. Mason played well(that's weird to say), but the Jets really need to finish opportunities better. How many teams in the league have a member of their top line that hasn't scored a goal yet? I'm not jumping off the Blake Wheeler bandwagon yet, but boy is he snake-bitten.
Jets (GP 17 5-9-3 13 PTS)
#9 Evander Kane -- #18 Bryan Little -- #8 Alexander Burmistrov
#16 Andrew Ladd --#80 Nik Antropov -- #13 Kyle Wellwood
#15 Tanner Glass -- #19 Jim Slater -- #22 Chris Thorburn
#41 Jason Jaffray -- #14 Tim Stapleton -- #26 Blake Wheeler
#29 Johnny Oduya -- #39 Dustin Byfuglien
#5 Mark Stuart -- #4 Zach Bogosian
#44 Arturs Kulda -- #36 Mark Flood
#31 Ondrej Pavelec
As of press time, I have no word that Ondrej Pavelec is out. But there has been word from Noel earlier in the week that Mason would see a start sometime soon. I think that sometime is now. Kulda and Jaffray were called up on Sunday, with Paul Postma going the other way, and I have slotted Jaffray in to the 4th line in place of Kenndal McArdle.
UPDATE: The lines were juggled a bit by Coach Noel going into this contest, as asides from the GST line the forward combinations are all new looks. Contrary to my belief Pavelec will once again get the start in goal over Chris Mason
The Tampa Bay Lightning have a potentially very dangerous top line. I still don't know how the Jets escaped Tampa with only one goal against. One cannot afford to go on the penalty kill when facing the likes of Stamkos, St. Louis and Lecavalier and expect to repeatedly get away without goals against. Victor Hedman will be a game time decision for the Lightning.