By Scott Billeck – @scottbilleck
Lost in all the Olympic frenzy that dominated Tuesday morning was the fact the Winnipeg Jets will be looking for their first win in three games, a focal point not lost in the furor according to Ondrej Pavelec.
While most of the talk centred around the four Winnipeg Jets named to their respective Olympic teams on Tuesday, it only slightly masked the fact that the Jets have lost more ground in the Central Division and have a tough mountain to climb against the visiting Tampa Bay Lightning if they want to get back to winning ways.
“It is a very good team,” said Jets’ starting netminder Pavelec. “That is a good thing that we have to focus here before going to Sochi. Big game for us after three losses and we play at home versus a very good team. Another tough game, they have the skill and we have to be ready for them.
“I think we understand what makes us successful here,” added captain Andrew Ladd. “Skating, checking and playing the right way and I think we got to get back to that and play with energy and use the energy in our building in the right way.
“We know how they play, they play extremely hard every night and skate really well. But for me, it is more about us and then the burrow we should have up in our saddle about the way the last three games went for us.”
Tampa talk was light after the pre-game skate as reactions to the various Olympic squads dominated proceedings.
Ladd, who attended Hockey Canada’s summer orientation camp, was unsurprised not hear the bell toll.
“I don’t think I did a great job at putting myself into position to be on the team so I wasn’t really expecting it,” said Ladd who missed the phone call from Team Canada general manager Steve Yzerman. “I didn’t answer it actually, I was already at the rink so I just got the voicemail.”
There was some elation as Pavelec and his fellow countryman and childhood friend, Michael Frolik, were named to the Czech national team.
“It feels pretty good, it is nice you can play on the same team with those guys,” said Frolik. “For my hometown (Kladno) there are like seven or eight players so it is something special, everybody knows each other and we are going to have a good group there. It is going to be an experience you will never forget.”
Ondrej Pavelec is set to get the start in goal after Al Montoya lost a 6-5 decision on Sunday in Pittsburgh. Former Nashville Predator’s backup, Anders Lindback, will make the start tonight for the Lightning who are coming off a 5-3 defeat to the lowly Edmonton Oilers.