The Winnipeg Jets absolutely dismantled the Dallas Stars last week in a 7-2 shellacking at MTS Centre.
"We went into their building and they took advantage of us," Trevor Daley said, putting it mildly, "so this is a good opportunity for us to return the favor."
Getting even with the Jets would be nice. Getting even with the Phoenix Coyotes would be even better. Dave Tippett's bunch visits the New York Rangers this evening, two points head of Dallas. As it's been said so many times already this season, if things fall right the Dallas Stars could move back into playoff contention.
Dallas is coming off a challenging 3-1 win over the Ottawa Senators Saturday afternoon. Robin Lehner stood on his head for much of the contest before Cody Eakin finally punctured him in the second period, and Trevor Daley and Jamie Benn added tallies to secure a victory, snapping a four-game skid.
The Stars will likely be without the services of Erik Cole, and for a team that's been struggling with secondary scoring, it's a bit of a bummer.
"He's day-to-day," Ruff said Saturday afternoon. "He just suffered a little minor injury in the game and we didn't know until this morning whether he'd be able to go. We'll get some further tests on him tomorrow. It's kind of the same thing he was hampered with early in the year."
Ruff is generally coy about his strategy on a back-to-back, if not on the starting netminder altogether, but was not shy about saying Kari Lehtonen is his guy for this one.
"I'm just going game by game," Ruff told media Sunday. "With Kari coming back and being fresh, looking like he did last night, he's going to get the start tomorrow for us and then we'll look at the next game after that."
Aaron Rome drew into Saturday's lineup but there's some speculation that Kevin Connauton could be back Monday night. For a team that's been hard pressed to generate offense lately, that would seem to make sense, but we'll update after morning skate.
The Jets piled 36 shots on the Carolina Hurricanes Saturday night and came away with a 3-2 loss on home ice. They've lost eight of their last ten games now and sit just one game over .500 on the year.
The Stars know firsthand what all that means, or doesn't, and the Colorado Avalanche got a taste of it Wednesday night as well in a 5-4 OT loss at MTS Centre. Winnipeg has talent in their forward group. Gobs of it. And every once in a while they rise up and strike in a pretty efficient way.
As for their actual playoff hopes, there's little at stake. The Jets remain a point up on the Nashville Predators and three back of the Vancouver Canucks, but are six back of the Phoenix Coyotes with a game less to play. So those are some long odds.
The Dallas Stars have been informed of their long odds repeatedly in seasons past and always seem to go on fighting to spite them. Winnipeg will do the same this evening.
That lineup again:
Winnipeg matched the Little line straight-up with the Benn and Seguin duo last week. Lindy Ruff shows mixed interest at times in how he matches up, sometimes preferring to just roll all four lines in succession regardless. We'll see how he attempts to free his group tonight as they continue to try to break out of an offensive slump.