New York Islanders Vs Winnipeg Jets : Pre-Game Report


Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Eyes On Isles Pre-Game Report

Tonight, the New York Islanders (23-32-8, 54 Points) travel to Winnipeg to take on the Jets  (30-26-6, 66 Points) in game no. 64 of the 2013-14 NHL season. Here’s what you need to know before puck drop…

Where: MTS Centre, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada

When:  8:00 PM ET, March 4, 2014

TV: MSG Plus (Play by play : Jiggs MacDonald, Color : Butch Goring)

Radio: 88.7 FM WRHU, 103.9 FM WRCN (Chris King)

Opposition Blog: Hockey At The Forks

The New York Islanders play their final game before the trade deadline this evening when they travel to Winnipeg to take on the Jets in the frozen tundra that is Manitoba, Canada.

Head coach Jack Capuano remained very non-committal to his lineup this morning, only announcing Anders Nilsson as the starting goaltender and Matt Martin‘s return to the 4th line.

Everything else is ‘TBA’ as Capuano announced it, which is the right move considering if a deal happens to be in place by this evening for either Thomas Vanek or Andrew MacDonald, you can expect them to be scratched with Eric Boulton and Matt Carkner standing by as replacements.

The Islanders have officially entered the ‘play out the string’ portion of their schedule, with nothing else to accomplish except getting a good, long look at the up and coming prospects including Nilsson, Ryan Strome and Anders Lee.

By Thursday, who knows what the roster will look like but it should at a minimum feature the return of Matt Donovan to the blueline. Once his junior season is over, there is a strong assumption that Griffin Reinhart could also see an eight game look so they team does not burn a year of his entry level contract.

In any event, it’s play the kids, let them gain experience and develop. If Edmonton passes them in the standings, so be it. Then New York would be looking at a potential top 2 pick in the 2014 entry draft.

The Jets come into this evenings game on the fringe of the playoff picture in the Western conference. They currently sit only 2 points back of the Dallas Stars (giving up a game in hand) for the final wild card berth.

Olympian Blake Wheeler paces the offense with 23-27-50 and defenseman Dustin Byfuglien, subject of trade rumors leading up to tomorrow’s deadline (he’s not going anywhere) leads the blueline corps with 13-31-44 as he is having another outstanding offensive season.

Rookie Mark Scheifele has not disappointed either in his first full NHL season. The 20 year old has 13-21-34 while playing over 16 minutes a night.

Ondrej Pavelec is expected to get the start in goal and that is where the Jets have struggled the most this season. He has 20 wins, a 2.90 GAA and .904 save percentage in 2013-14, hardly the numbers a playoff contender feels comfortable about at this juncture.

As a team, Winnipeg is 15th in goals per game, 19th in goals against, 24th on the power play and 5th in penalty killing.

What They’re Saying

  • “It’s been great to put ourselves in position to be back in the race,” forward Andrew Ladd told the Jets’ official website after Saturday’s 3-1 victory at Nashville. “We’re playing our best hockey of the year at this point and we’re on a pretty good run here, so confidence is where it needs to be in a run. Like I said, we understand that we need to stay on the gas here and keep pushing.”
  • “He’s had a big stretch of really good games,” Maurice said of goaltender Pavelec.
  • “We seem to find ways to lose,” veteran defenseman Andrew MacDonald said. “It’s tough to see games slip away. When you get the lead, you should be able to hold it, most of the time. It’s discouraging.”
  • “(The trade deadline) weighs on your mind,” said MacDonald, who had a goal assisted by Vanek against Winnipeg this season. “You try not to let it get to you.”

Quick Hitters

  • All time vs Jets : 28-18-6
  • Another 20: Thomas Vanek’s two goals Sunday were the 270th and 271st of his career, catching and then passing Bobby Orr on the all-time list. Vanek has scored at least 20 goals in each of his nine NHL seasons; Alex Ovechkin is the only other player who has scored at least 20 goals in each of the last nine seasons. The Rangers’ Rick Nash needs one goal (he has 19 this season) to join Ovechkin and Vanek.
  • Road Warriors: The Isles are 10-3-0 in their last 13 road games.
  • Streaking: Josh Bailey saw his four-game point and assist streak (0g/4a) come to an end Sunday. He’s sitting on 99 career NHL assists.
  • PIMs Record: Travis Hamonic tied the Islanders franchise record for penalty minutes in a period Saturday against the Devils, posting 32 in the final frame. He served a one-game suspension Sunday for instigating a fight in the final five minutes of a game.
  • Youngsters: The Islanders 23-man roster features five rookies: Calvin de Haan, Anders Lee, Brock Nelson, Anders Nilsson and Ryan Strome.
  • Under Capuano: The Islanders are 107-115-35 under Head Coach Jack Capuano. He ranks second on the Islanders all-time list in both games coached (258) and wins (107), behind Al Arbour (1,500 coached, 740 wins).

Projected Lineup

26 Thomas Vanek – 18 Ryan Strome – 21 Kyle Okposo
15 Cal Clutterbuck – 51 Frans Nielsen – 40 Michael Grabner
27 Anders Lee – 29 Brock Nelson – 12 Josh Bailey
17 Matt Martin – 53 Casey Cizikas – 13 Colin McDonald

37 Brian Strait – 7 Matt Carkner
14 Thomas Hickey – 11 Lubomir Visnovsky
44 Calvin de Haan – 3 Travis Hamonic

45 Anders Nilsson
20 Evgeni Nabokov


Radek Martinek
36 Eric Boulton

Injured Reserve : 91 John Tavares