Game Day Preview: Jets @ Islanders
When: Tuesday, April 2, 2013
Time: 6:00 p.m. CST
Where: Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum, Uniondale, New York
Records: Winnipeg Jets (18-17-2 – 3rd in East), New York Islanders (17-16-3- 9th in East)
Television/Radio: MSG PLUS, TSN-JETS/TSN 1290
The Story: The Winnipeg Jets will look to snap a three-game losing streak tonight against the New York Islanders in their second game in as many nights.
The Jets dropped a 4-2 road decision to the New York Rangers on Monday night but remarkably remain atop the Southeast Division and in 3rd place in the Eastern Conference with 38 points, four points up on the Carolina Hurricanes.
Special teams continue to be the achilles heel for the Jets and Monday night was no different. The Jets failed to score on five power play opportunities against the Rangers (including four chances in the second period) and surrendered a shorthanded goal to Ryan Callahan while they were on the 5-on-3 man advantage which ended up being the turning point in the game. On a positive note, the Jets only took one penalty against the Rangers (an Evander Kane tripping penalty) which the home team failed to take advantage of.
As for the Islanders, they enter tonight’s game on the heels of a crucial 3-1 victory over the New Jersey Devils on Monday night. The Islanders sit in 9th place in the East with 37 points and trail both the Devils and Rangers by just one point for the last playoff spot in the East.
The Islanders story has been a truly remarkably one as they have won four of their last five games and have proven all of the critics wrong by sticking in the thick of the playoff hunt most of the season.
After superstar forward John Tavares (37 points in 36 games), the Islanders are not a particularly skilled team so they rely on balanced scoring, tight checking and excellent goaltending which on many nights has been good enough to win. 37-year-old goaltender Evgeni Nabokov has been an absolute workhorse, starting 31 games so far this season. Nabokov’s 17 wins are 4th most in the National Hockey League.
There will be one line-up change for the Jets tonight and it will be on defense. Grant Clitsome left Monday night’s game with an eye injury and did not return and is out for tonight’s game. Mark Stuart will return to the lineup tonight for the Jets after missing the last six games with a lower body injury.
This is the second of three meetings between the Islanders and Jets. Winnipeg defeated the Islanders 5-4 in Overtime way back on January 27th. The third and final meeting of the season between the Jets Islanders takes place in Winnipeg on Saturday, April 20th at 2:00 p.m.
Ondrej Pavelec is expected to start in net for the Jets tonight. It will be Pavelec’s 34th start of the season.
Follow @IllegalCurve on Twitter leading up to today’s game.
Projected Jets line combinations (subject to change before game time):
1st: Andrew Ladd- Bryan Little- Blake Wheeler
2nd: Evander Kane-Olli Jokinen- Antti Miettinen
3rd: Eric Tangradi– Nikolai Antropov- Kyle Wellwood
4th: Patrice Cormier- Alexander Burmistrov - Chris Thorburn
Tobias Enstrom- Dustin Byfuglien
Zach Bogosian- Ron Hainsey
Derek Meech- Mark Stuart
New York Islanders: John Tavares (22 goals, 15 assists, 37 points), Matt Moulson (11 goals, 24 assists, 35 points), Brad Boyes (8 goals, 19 assists, 27 points)
Winnipeg Jets: Andrew Ladd (14 goals, 18 assists, 32 points), Blake Wheeler (14 goals, 14 assists, 28 points) Evander Kane (13 goals, 13 assists, 26 points)
New York Islanders: Joe Finley (undisclosed), Jesse Joensuu (hernia), David Ullstrom (groin), Anders Nilsson (undisclosed)
Winnipeg Jets: Zach Redmond (leg), Anthony Peluso (hand), Jim Slater (upper body), James Wright (undisclosed), Grant Clitsome (upper body)
Who’s Next: Thursday, April 4th against the Montreal Canadiens (6:30 p.m. CST). The Jets return home after Thursday’s game for a Saturday afternoon matchup with the Philadelphia Flyers on April 6th (2:00 p.m. CST)