Winnipeg Jets visit Long Island to Take on the Islanders

Bruce Bennett

Jets continue their swing through the Metropolitan Division tonight at the struggling New York Islanders

Fresh off a strong performance against the New Jersey Devils, the Jets look to continue their winning ways tonight against the struggling New York Islanders.  The Islanders have lost 3 straight and 8 of their past 10.

The good news for the Islanders is that recently acquired Tomas Vanek is back and looking good.  He has 2 goals and 3 points in the two games since his return to the lineup from injury.  Playing on a line with superstar John Tavares and big power forward Kyle Okposo the Islanders have a deady first line.  Danish C Frans Nielsen had burst out of the gates, at one point leading the NHL in scoring, but has cooled off recently.  Outside of that the Islanders have little secondary scoring.  Andrew MacDonald leads the Islanders in scoring from the blueline with just 7 points.  Islanders goaltending has also been questionable with injured Nabokov sporting a .892 save percentage and now starting Kevin Poulin has just an .891 save percentage.

The Jets meanwhile has finally started to get some secondary scoring in recent games.  Mark Scheifele (or should I say Snipele) scored a goal last game, his first since the season opener way back on October 1st.  The 3rd line of Frolik - Scheifele - Halischuk has often looked like the Jets top line in recent games, giving the Jets a deeper attack than they'd had in a while.  Meanwhile 2nd line C Olli Jokinen has already tied his point total from last season with 14, doing it in just 26 games this year compared to 45 last season.  Dustin Byfuglien has moved into 2nd in the league in points among defensemen with 21.  Even Ondrej Pavelec has posted a .917 or above save percentage in 5 of his last 6 starts.

This will be the Jets first game against the New York Islanders this season.  Last year they posted a 1-1-1 record against the Islanders.  Somewhat concerning is the fact that they allowed 13 goals in those 3 games, although they did post 11 of their own.  The Jets are 5-1-1 against the Eastern Conference this year and 3-0-1 against the Metropolitan Division.  Dominant records like that are common with Western Conference teams this year.  The Islanders are just 2-4-0 against the West and have yet to play a Central Division team.

Keys for the Jets

1. Use their speed wide.  The Islanders defense is a mess right now.  Their #1 is the aging Lubomir Visnovsky who is injured.  The rest of the D have failed to step up.  Take it wide and drive the net to expose this weakness on the blueline.

2. Shots.  New York Islanders have the worst goaltending in the league so far this season.  Pour the shots on the net and the goals will come easily.

3. Shutdown the top line.  The Islanders are basically a one line team.  If whoever is matched up on the Tavares line can shut them down, the Islanders have little pop anywhere else in the lineup.

Keys for the Islanders

1. Secondary Scoring.  Since Frans Nielsen has cooled down the bottom lines have done little to nothing.  Michael Grabner, Josh Bailey, Pierre-Marc Bouchard, Cal Clutterbuck need to step up and start producing something offensively if the Islanders want to stay competitive.

2. Blueline.  Islanders blueline has struggled all season, they need to settle down and start playing better.  They have some decent puck movers in Andrew MacDonald, Travis Hamonic, Hickey the results need to start coming.

3. Goaltending.  Kevin Poulin has been pretty much a disaster since taking over for the injured Evgeni Nabokov with a 3-8-0 record.  He needs to be better if the Islanders want to stay in the race in the East.

Player to Boo Mercelously

Thomas Vanek because he used to be a dirty Saber and now he is a dirty Islander

Prediction

Jets 5

Isles 4

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