Winnipeg Jets (30-33-7) 67 Pts @ New York Islanders (33-25-11) 77 Pts
When: March 16th, 2107
Where: Barclays Center
Time: 7PM EDT
TV: MSG +2 (Brendan Burke, Butch Goring)
Radio: 880AM – WCBS, 88.7 FM – WRHU (Chris King, Greg Picker)
The Islanders face their next tough test tonight, as they do battle with the Winnipeg Jets in Brooklyn. The Isles are in must-win mode every night from hereon in.
The Jets are not going to the playoffs, but they would love to make life difficult for the Islanders. The last time these two teams faced-off, the Isles took care of business relatively easily by a score of 6-2 on New Year’s Eve in Winnipeg. Make no mistake though, the Jets can score. They are ninth in the league in average goals scored, and they have four players in the Top 29 in goals scored. Mark Scheifele (69 points) is ninth, Patrik Laine (60 points) is 18th, while Blake Wheeler (57 points) and Nikolaj Ehlers are 28th and 29th, respectively.
Conversely, their goaltending has been suspect. They allow 3.19 goals against per game, which is third worst in the league.
The Islanders are coming off a come-from-behind victory against Carolina on Tuesday night. They fell behind 2-0 before coming back and stunning the Canes with tow goals in 25 seconds. John Tavares won it early in OT, as he used the pretty drop pass from Josh Ho-Sang to wrist it past Cam Ward for the huge two points.
The Isles will need another strong performance tonight, as a loss will drop them into ninth or even tenth place. But, a win will keep them in eighth, no matter who wins in the colossal tussle between the Maple Leafs and Lightning. The playoffs have become pretty much a three-horse-race. The Islanders and Lightning are tied at 77 points, with the Leafs sitting just one point behind. A Tampa win tonight, coupled with an Isles’ victory would put some distance between the Isles, Lightning and Leafs. A Toronto win would put the Isles alone in eighth, Toronto one back, and Tampa Bay three back. Does it matter? No, not really. But, judging by the fact that Toronto has a game in hand, perhaps it’s best if they lose this evening.
“The guys know where we stand and we’re not looking for anyone else to help us,” Coach Doug Weight said “But we’ve got ourselves in a position where we control our own destiny, so let’s keep going from there.”
Thomas Greiss will be back in net for the Islanders, after a good start against Carolina. He will need to be sharp against the Jets’ high-powered offense. The defensive pairings will remain the same, as Johnny Boychuk will miss a seventh straight with a sore foot. On offense Brock Nelson will draw back in the lineup. Anthony Beauvillier will sit this one out as a healthy scratch. That is his first scratch under Doug Weight. It’s just merely a bump in the road for the Islanders’ extremely talented rookie. Comparisons to Josh Ho-Sang are a little unfair, considering Ho-Sang is 21, and spent most of the season in the NHL. Beauvillier is just 19, and this is his first taste of professional hockey. It’s a completely different animal.
Speaking of Ho-Sang, the outspoken Isles’ prospect has come flying out of the gate. It took him a couple of games to get situated, but since then, he has been on fire. He has multiple points in two straight, and six points (3G, 3A) in his first eight games. He has to work on the defensive side of his game, but the Isles’ defense in general has been suspect the past few weeks.