The Tampa Bay Lightning continue their five-game road trip on Friday, as they arrive in Winnipeg for the tailend of a back-to-back. The Lightning will head on their All-Star break following the duration of this contest. There will be some games early next week, but the schedule does begin to wind down this weekend. Following a ten-game winning streak, the Lightning have looked rather ordinary the past few games.
They were losers in Newark on Sunday by a score of 3-1, and then were lucky to get away with a 4-3 win against the Kings on Tuesday night. They weren’t so fortunate last night, as the Wild edged the Lightning out by a score of 3-2. What often happens after a long winning streak like that is teams go through a lull thereafter. Whether that’s what is going on or the Lightning are reverting back to earlier in the season will be answered after the break.
A win here would be a nice way to go into the break, but it’s not going to be easy in Winnipeg. And a loss is going to give fans a lot of bad vibes for at least a week. That said, fans always like to overreact and not look at the whole picture. It’s a what have you done for me lately business, and Lightning fans are not going to be good about their team if they follow up their ten-game winning streak with a near loss against the Kings and three losses.
The Lightning are at 28-15-4 heading into snowy Winnipeg. That puts them at 60 points and eight behind the Bruins for 1st in the Atlantic Division. Before Lightning fans get bent out of shape, just keep in mind this team was unstoppable in the regular season and couldn’t even win one game in the playoffs. Maybe they’ll have something left in the tank for the spring this time around.
Winnipeg are on the bubble in the Western Conference, as they sit at 25-18-4 and 54 points in the Central. They’re not good enough to catch the Blues, though could still reach the playoffs on a different path. What the Jets do at the trade deadline is going to be interesting. They could buy and bolster their blueline, which is hurting right now. Carl Dahlstrom is the latest casualty as he will be out long-term. With the injuries piling up, the Jets will not survive with their current outfit on the blueline. They have a difficult task on Friday night against the Lightning without a healthy unit. Head below for our free Lightning vs. Jets pick.
Tampa Bay Lightning vs. Winnipeg Jets Betting Odds:
Lightning vs. Jets Prediction:
The Jets need to get some bodies back on their blueline, but to do that, they may have to look at other teams and initiate a trade. Dustin Byfuglien, Nathan Beaulieu, Dmitry Kulikov, Tucker Poolman, and Carl Dalhstrom have all been dealing with ailments. Kulikov came down with an illness which held him out of Tuesday’s game, but everyone else will be unavailable to play against a quality Lightning offence tonight. The recent Dalhstrom injury was just bad luck for a Jets team that didn’t need anymore bad news with injuries on their blueline. Winnipeg may have allowed just a goal in their past two games, but if this carries on for the defence, they’re certainly not going to be able to sustain that.
Connor Hellebuyck is likely going to be under fire on Friday night. Hellebuyck has been playing quite well for the Jets this season, as he’s bounced back after a pedestrian year for him in 2018-29. Hellebuyck posted a 2.90 GAA and 0.913 save percentage a season ago, while he’s upped that to a 2.57 GAA and 0.923 save percentage in 2019-20.
The Lightning are not a team that he’s been thrilled to see in his career, though. Like they’ve done against a lot of teams, Tampa has made it look easy against Hellebuyck. Note that he owns a 3.67 GAA and 0.895 save percentage in six games versus the Bolts. In their last three meetings, the Lightning scored an average of 4 goals per game, even though that resulted in only one win.
The Jets came at the Lightning with an average of 3.66 goals per game, so they were scoring as well. That’s likely going to have to be the case if they want a win tonight. The loss of Dahlstrom is nothing to look at lightly for the Jets, and it’s what should prompt the Jets to look at options who might be available in a trade. The Kings are trying to shop Alec Martinez, so that could be one way they go, but there will be other options as well.
They will look to slow down a Lightning offence who are ranked 4th in the NHL with 3.53 goals per game. Winnipeg have been serviceable enough in that respect, having netted 3.03 goals per game in 2019-20. Curtis McElhinney played last night, so expected Andrei Vasilevskiy in the crease for the Bolts. Vasilevskiy has been horrid in the past versus the Jets. He does not have a solid history against them, with a 3.54 GAA and 0.88 save percentage in seven outings. This sure looks like it’s shaping up to be a 4-3 final score on Friday night at MTS Place.