The Winnipeg Jets forge on their 6-game road trip, with the second stop coming tonight in New York. The struggling New York Islanders will look to rebound after dropping their third straight game on Saturday Night, and the Jets are planning on building on a solid 3-1 win in New Jersey two nights ago. The Islanders are 2-8 in their last 10 games, giving up 3.8 goals a game in that period.
The Jets and Islanders will do battle for the first time this season, with the second and final match-up coming on March 4th. The Islanders are 5-2-0 all-time against Winnipeg, and their most recent game was a 5-4 shootout victory for the Islanders on April 20th, 2013.
The Islanders are missing veteran starting goalie Evgeni Nabokov, so 23-year old Kevin Poulin will get his fourth straight start in net. Backing him up is fellow rookie Anders Nilsson, who has played just over four game’s worth of minutes in his NHL career. Facing him will be Jets’ back-up Al Montoya, making his first start since November 18, a 5-4 shootout loss to the Calgary Flames.
The Islanders are sporting a banged-up defensive core, with veteran Lubomir Visnovsky on the Injured Reserve with a concussion, and Brian Strait joining him there with an upper-body injury. Strait has been out since mid-October, and both have not yet set a timetable for returning. Fellow defenseman Thomas Hickey sustained a lower-body injury blocking a shot in the Islanders’ most recent game on Saturday, and his status is day-to-day. Andrew McDonald, who had also left Saturday’s game early, skated for the first time on Tuesday along with Hickey. Both will be evaluated some time before the game, and they will be a game-time decision.
The Jets retained a healthy lineup on Monday after rookie defenseman Jacob Trouba played his first game back on Monday. Trouba said he felt “fine” after the affair, logging 19:59 of ice time in his first action since October 18th. The Jets will still be without defencemen Jim Slater, Paul Postma, and Zach Bogosian, who are all on the Injured Reserve, and still out indefinitely.
The Jets will need to penetrate the Islanders’ zone often in this game, and take advantage of their weak goaltending and defensive situation. Travis Hamonic will have his hands full with the Jets’ top line of Bryan Little, Evander Kane, and Andrew Ladd, so offense from players like Matt Halischuk and Mark Scheifele will be key. Like the Jets, the Islanders have one very dangerous offensive line, with John Tavares and Tomas Vanek. Dustin Byfuglien will lead Winnipeg on the blue-line, but it will require an effort from all players on the back-check and with defensive-zone positioning to squander the Islanders’ top line’s opportunities.
Winnipeg is 4-5-1 on the road this season, while the Islanders are 6-4-2 on their home ice. The Jets come into this match-up with a 5-1-1 record against Eastern Conference teams, while New York is 3-3-1 against their Western counterparts.
You can catch tonight’s game on TSN Jets, or listen live on TSN 1290. The game will be broadcasted on MSG+ for non-regional viewers. Puck drop from the Nassau Colosseum is at 7PM Central Time.
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