The Tampa Bay Lightning and Winnipeg Jets won’t be Southeast rivals forever but Saturday in the MTS Centre, it’s “game on” as the Jets try to close out the season on a winning note
Winnipeg was 14-6-3 this season vs. teams from the Southeast division
Winnipeg went 2-1-1 during a recent road trip and had its non-playoff fate sealed along the way. Playing on home ice was the Jets’ strong suit during their inaugural season but they haven’t won here since Mar. 16 and would like to give their fans something to remember before hitting the links.
Tampa Bay has its own agenda, with Steven Stamkos trying to become the NHL’s second 60-goal man of the past 15 years. Online sportsbooks are getting 66-percent action for the Jets and current NHL odds show them as a -140 moneyline favorite. Over/Under odds have jumped to 6 Over -121, one of the highest totals all season, but the sports betting public continue to pile on (95-percent action).
Dwayne Roloson (12-16-3, 3.68 GAA, .886 SV) is expected to start for Tampa and chants for “Roll-EEE” should be loud and proud from the raucous crowd of 15,000-plus. Winnipeg was 3-1-1 against the Lightning this season and won both home games by scores of 5-2 and 4-3.
The call-out by Jets head coach Claude Noel is a big story for this contest and we should expect his team to come out flying in response to comments about player character. Winnipeg was the league’s second highest scoring team in March (3.36 GPG) and they’ve continued to light the lamp with nine goal in two April games.
Ondrej Pavelec (29-28-8, 2.90 GAA, .907 SV) is the likely starter and he sports a 19-12-3 record at the MTS with a 2.42 goals against average. Pavelec was hung out to dry in recent starts as the Jets tried to hunt down a playoff spot but with pride on the line, expect a better defensive effort in front of the No. 1.
The Jets were favored only once this season vs. Tampa but the oddsmaker has caught on. Still, we like this spot for the Jets and suggest either laying the juice or the half-goal at +114 as Winnipeg finishes the season strong.
Pick: Take the Jets