With the light at the end of the tunnel in sight, the Lightning play their fourth game of this five-game Western Canadian road trip tonight on the prairies of Manitoba against the Winnipeg Jets. The Bolts will head back stateside after the game tonight. Tampa Bay arrived in Winnipeg yesterday around 5 p.m. They practiced Thursday morning at Hockey Canada’s facility outside of Calgary before taking off. I must say, the Hockey Canada facility was extremely impressive, especially their “Hall of Champions” with all the trophies and photos from championships won. A number of the Lightning players enjoyed finding themselves, namely Steven Stamkos and Brenden Morrow to name a few.
As the Lightning’s offense continues to struggle five-on-five on this road trip, they’ll attempt to get it back on track tonight against a Jets team that allows an average of 2.67 goals per game (about middle of the pack in the NHL). Tampa Bay’s 12 5-on-5 goals rank tied for 15th in the NHL. Jon Cooper said it will come around with familiarity as injuries and new players are forcing guys to play with unfamiliar line-mates. He said he was happy that they are doing a great job of keeping the puck out of their net.
At least one of the Lightning’s walking wounded will make it out of the M.A.S.H. unit tonight, as Radko Gudas is expected to make his return to the line-up tonight after missing the previous four games. Mike Blunden, who played just a shade over 10 minutes on Tuesday in Calgary, was returned to Syracuse this morning and the team recalled Cedric Paquette. Cooper said with some of the injuries the team has lost some of its grit, so the hope is Paquette will provide just that. Ben Bishop will get the start tonight for the Bolts while Evgeni Nabokov is expected to get the nod tomorrow night in St. Paul.
Tampa Bay will head to Minnesota tonight after the game to conclude this five-game odyssey.
TV: Sun Sports
Radio: AM 970 WFLA
Johnny B. Good – Tyler Johnson has quietly put together a good little run here. He is currently on a team-high four-game point streak with four during that time.
Quick Strike – This probably goes without saying, but the Lightning would be well-served to get off to a good start tonight. Winnipeg is 0-3-0 this season when allowing the first goal and also when trailing after the first period.