When: Saturday, April 20, 2013
Time: 2:00 p.m. CST
Where: MTS Centre, Winnipeg, Manitoba
Records: Winnipeg Jets (23-19-2 – 9th in East), New York Islanders (23-16-5- 7th in East)
Television/Radio: MSG-PLUS, TSN-JETS/TSN 1290
The Story: This afternoon’s game between the Winnipeg Jets and New York Islanders can only be summed up in one word: massive.
With one week left in the 2013 regular season, time is running out to determine which 16 teams will make the Stanley Cup Playoffs and the room for error for the Jets right now is slim to none. Entering today’s game, the Jets sit in 9th place in the Eastern Conference with 48 points, two points behind the 8th place New York Rangers and three points behind the 7th place Islanders. With four games to go in their season (two home, two away), the Jets will have to win at least three of those games in order to have a good shot at the postseason.
Today’s matchup will be a meeting of two of the hottest teams in the NHL. Winnipeg has won five games in a row-all at home- and have outscored their opponents 22- 10 in the process. The Islanders, on the other hand, have won 7 of their last 10 games and have only lost once in regulation in their last thirteen games (10-1-2). In fact, the Islanders have earned at least one point in all nine games they’ve played in the month of April thus far (7-0-2).
We shouldn’t expect this afternoon’s game to be a low scoring affair. The Jets number-1 line of Andrew Ladd-Bryan Little-Blake Wheeler have combined for 30 points over the last five games and are the hottest trio in the league right now.The Islanders have a pretty good top line of their own too. Led by potential Hart Trophy candidate John Tavares (26 goals, 19 assists) along with wingers Matt Moulson (15 goals, 27 assists) and Brad Boyes (9 goals, 25 assists), the trio has combined for 121 points so far this season.
The Islanders are not a one trick pony however and the Jets are going to need to shut down other players on the team, including the team’s second line of Josh Bailey-Frans Nielsen-Kyle Okposo. Former Manitoba Moose player Michael Grabner (15 goals, 5 assists) is another legitimate offensive threat who the Jets are well aware of. The ability of the Jets second defense pairing of Ron Hainsey–Zach Bogosian to shut down the Islanders secondary scorers will be one of the keys to today’s hockey game.
This is the third and final meeting of the season between the Islanders and Jets with the season series tied at one game apiece.The Jets defeated the Islanders 5-4 in Overtime back on January 27th while the Islanders defeated the Jets 5-2 on April 2nd.
Ondrej Pavelec is expected to start in net for the Jets today.
Evgeni Nabokov is expected to start in net for the Islanders today.
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- Kyle Wellwood
3rd: Eric Tangradi– Alexander Burmistrov- Mike Santorelli
4th: James Wright- Aaron Gagnon – Chris Thorburn
Grant Clitsome – Dustin Byfuglien
Zach Bogosian- Ron Hainsey
Paul Postma- Mark Stuart
New York Islanders: John Tavares (26 goals, 19 assists, 45 points), Matt Moulson (15 goals, 27 assists, 42 points), Brad Boyes (9 goals, 25 assists, 34 points), Mark Streit (6 goals, 20 assists, 26 points)
Winnipeg Jets: Andrew Ladd (18 goals, 26 assists, 44 points), Blake Wheeler (17 goals, 21 assists, 38 points) Evander Kane (16 goals, 15 assists, 31 points), Bryan Little (6 goals, 24 assists, 30 points)
New York Islanders: Anders Nilsson (undisclosed), Calvin de Haan (shoulder)
Winnipeg Jets: Anthony Peluso (hand), Jim Slater (upper body), Nikolai Antropov (lower body), Tobias Enstrom (mid-body, week to week)
Who’s Next: The Jets play the Buffalo Sabres on Monday, April 22nd (6:00 p.m. CST) followed by a game against the Washington Capitals on Tuesday, April 23rd (6:00 p.m. CST). The Jets final regular season game is back in Winnipeg on Thursday, April 25th against the Montreal Canadiens (7:00 p.m. CST).
QUICKIES…..The Jets have the 12th best home penalty killing percentage in the NHL (85.2%)…..