When: Tuesday, December 20, 2011
Time: 7:30 p.m. CST
Where: MTS Centre, Winnipeg, Manitoba
Records: Winnipeg (15-13-4), New York Islanders (10-14-6)
Television/Radio: MSG PLUS 2,TSN-JETS/ TSN 1290 Radio
The Story: All the Winnipeg Jets want going into the Christmas Break is three more wins at home and it starts tonight when the Jets host the New York Islanders at the MTS Centre. After Saturday’s 5-3 victory over the Anaheim Ducks, the Jets improved to 11-5-0 at home this season and 2-1 so far during their current six-game homestand.
The Jets defeated the Islanders 3-0 back on November 6th in Long Island but that doesn’t mean much now. The Islanders defeated the surprising Minnesota Wild 2-1 in a shootout on Saturday and possess up-and-coming young superstars John Tavares, Michael Grabner and Kyle Okposo. The Jets may be more a more talented team than the Islanders, but this game will not be any easier to win than Saturday’s game against the Ducks, a game in which the Ducks outshot the Jets 36-30 and did not give up despite falling behind by two goals early in the first period.
The Jets were getting healthy at precisely the right time on Saturday until centreman Bryan Little was struck by a puck in his foot in the first period and had to leave the game. Injured Jets Nikolai Antropov (missed 2 games), Alexander Burmistrov (missed 2 games) and Tobias Enstrom (missed 20 games) returned to the line-up last game and all managed to get on the scoresheet. Despite winning 11 of 20 games during Enstrom’s injury, the Jets were ecstatic to have their Number-1 defenseman back in the line-up. Enstrom, who broke his clavicle back on October 31st versus the Florida Panthers, is an excellent puck-rushing defenseman who registered a career-high 51 points last year for the Atlanta Thrashers. A healthy Enstrom makes the Jets significantly better on the back-end, both offensively and defensively.
Due to Little’s injury, the Jets roster shuffle will continue as recent waiver wire acquisition Antti Miettinen will make his debut for the Jets tonight. The 31-year-old Finnish winger started the season with Kazan Ak-Bars of the Russian Kontinental Hockey League but left to sign a two-year contract with the Tampa Bay Lightning. Because Miettinen started the league in Russia, he had to be placed on waivers first before he could play, and that’s when Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff claimed him. Miettinen is expected to replace Chris Thorburn on the third line tonight.
Here are the projected line combinations for the Jets for tonight’s game (courtesy of TSN 1290’s Rick Ralph)
Enstrom – Byfuglien
Stuart – Bogosian
Hainsey – Oduya
Here are the projected line combinations for the Islanders for tonight’s game (courtesy of Newsdays’ Arthur Staples)
Capuano has only one spare player with the team right now, defenseman Mark Eaton, so it doesn’t seem as though there will be any lineup changes for Tuesday night. What he might change are the line combinations, saying he might swap Nino Niederreiter and Tim Wallace at right wing on the bottom two lines, putting Niederreiter with David Ullstrom and Josh Bailey and Wallace with Matt Martin and Marty Reasoner, a line that had a couple of effective games.
So it would look like this:
Matt Moulson, John Tavares, P.A. Parenteau
Michael Grabner, Frans Nielsen, Kyle Okposo
David Ullstrom, Josh Bailey, Nino Niederreiter
Matt Martin, Marty Reasoner, Tim Wallace
Mark Streit – Milan Jurcina
Andrew MacDonald – Travis Hamonic
Dylan Reese – Mike Mottau
The offensive leaders for the New York Islanders are John Tavares (10 goals, 15 assists, 25 points), PA Parenteau (four goals, 20 assists, 24 points) and Matt Moulson (15 goals, 9 assists, 24 points).
The offensive leaders for the Winnipeg Jets are Evander Kane (15 goals, 10 assists, 25 points), Dustin Byfuglien (six goals, 17 assists, 23 points) and Blake Wheeler (three goals, 18 assists, 21 points).
Who’s Next: After tonight’s game, the Jets next game is on Thursday, December 22nd against the Montreal Canadiens (7:30 p.m.). The Jets wrap up their six-game homestand against the Pittsburgh Penguins a night later on Friday, December 23rd (7:30 p.m.).
QUICKIES….The Jets assigned Jason Jaffray to the St. John’s IceCaps on Monday. Jaffray had one assist in 13 games with the Jets…..Evander Kane has 16 points in his last 15 games (10 goals, 6 assists)…..From Illegal Curve’s Richard Pollock: Things to Like about the Jets: 1) Evander Kane has logged over 20:00 minutes of ice-time in four of the team’s past six games.2) Mark Stuart leads the entire NHL in blocked shots with 89. 3) Evander Kane and Alexander Burmistrov are in the Top 30 in the NHL when it comes to penalties drawn per 60 mins of Even Strength Play. 4) Jim Slater is taking 3 draws in own zone for every 1 draw in offensive zone and winning at 53% rate (26th in NHL)…..New York Islanders forward Frans Nielsen has the best career shootout percentage (17-for-30) in the National Hockey League (minimum 10 attempts)…..