The Winnipeg Jets host the New York Islanders, which looks to be their toughest game to date. The two teams share a few similarities coming into tonight’s match up and if you’re interested in a hard fought battle, tuning in to the action may be in your best interest, because I don’t see this being a blow out by either team. The interesting thing about these two squads is the path they have taken in the first month of play. These two teams could be kin, they are that similar.
Similar Octobers for the Islanders and Jets
The Jets opened the season with an unanticipated 0-2-1 record after their season opening California road trip, losing to the Anaheim Ducks (4-1) and the San Jose Sharks (4-3) before earning a point in an overtime loss to the Minnesota Wild. Since those opening losses, the Jets have earned a point in every game since, going 6-0-1 in their last seven games. In that span, they have outscored their opponents by a plus-10 margin (27 goals for, 17 goals against), and have earned points in every game since.
The Islanders have had an eerily similar start to their season and also opened their schedule with two losses, dropping games to the Carolina Hurricanes (6-3) and the Florida Panthers (5-1). Since that time, they have also gained a point in every contest they’ve played, with a current streak of 4-0-2, and have outscored their opponents by a plus-8 margin (14 goals for, six goals against). Both the Jets and Islanders enter tonight’s game with point streaks of eight and six games, respectively, making this a game you’re going to want to see.
Similar Scoring Improvements
Both teams, after suffering back-to-back losses to open the season, have improved their scoring output. The Jets, behind Kyle Connor and Pierre-Luc Dubois, have lit the lamp at an impressive pace. The Jets are currently seventh in the league, scoring 3.60 goals per game and in their current game-point streak have popped in 4.25 goals, which is higher than the aforementioned Panthers who currently lead the NHL in that category.
Connor is currently fourth in the NHL in scoring with 16 points (eight goals, eight assists) while Dubois had an eight-game point streak going until last night’s game against the Chicago Blackhawks when he was held off the scoresheet for the first time since the team’s opening night loss. Toss a red hot Andrew Copp into the mix, whose 12 points (five goals, seven assists) are 13th best in the league, and you have three Jet’s forwards in the NHL’s top 25.
The Islanders don’t tend to score as often but their output has increased over that same game-point streak. Brock Nelson has lead his team with seven points in the past five games (five games, two assists) including a four-goal outburst (from “Islanders Visit the Jets after Nelson’s 4-goal game,” The Buffalo News, 06/11/21) against the Montreal Canadiens on Thursday. Behind him, Anthony Beauvillier has five points in the five games (two goals, three assists) and also comes into tonight’s match from a productive game Thursday when he assisted on every Nelson goal except his empty-net marker that sealed the game.
Defensive Improvements Also Similar
The Islanders, since their first two losses, have simply shut the door! After allowing 11 goals in those two matches, they have given up only eight goals in the past six games. That’s a goals-against average (GAA) of 1.33, well below league leading and the still undefeated Hurricanes. The Jets have reduced their goals against as well, not as significantly as the Islanders, but it has come down nonetheless. The Jets’ big offseason mantra was fewer goals with an improved defence. While the scoring chances and goals against are not where most want, it has improved. Over the past five games, the team has allowed the opposition 10 goals per game. A far cry from the 19 they allowed in the first five.
Tonight’s Game Prediction
On offence, give the Jets a significant advantage as they have been a scoring machine as of late, and while the Islanders have also improved their scoring, it is nowhere near the pace of their opponent tonight.
On defense, give the advantage to the Islanders. They have literally shut down their opponents of late, including back-to-back shutouts of the Arizona Coyotes and the Vegas Golden Knights. The Jets have improved but haven’t exactly faced the NHL’s best, and tonight is the first opponent they’ll face who has been in the preseason Stanley Cup discussions. The other factor is backup goaltender Eric Comrie who is expected to be in goal tonight.
Although he has been very good in his two starts and two subsequent wins, this is by far his toughest test to date, and he’ll need to be rock solid in net. The Islanders’ starting goaltender Ilya Sorokin has been in the pipes for every one of their games and expect him and his impressive 2.33 GAA to be in net again tonight. Should Comrie play well, I’m feeling a 3-2 overtime victory tonight, and because the Jets are at home and undefeated in Winnipeg, I am going to give the victory to them and both teams will exit the game with their point-scoring streaks intact.
Keith Forsyth is a freelance writer and sports junkie from rural Manitoba who is covering the Winnipeg Jets for The Hockey Writers. Keith loves all sports and is a huge fan of the NFL (Skol Vikings… if you know, you know) and the Montreal Expos (they’re coming back… you watch!). He recently retired from the education world teaching high school, where his greatest passion was coaching young athletes. He brings that same logical, behind the bench type of approach to you as he delivers an insightful look into the NHL and specifically the Jets. For interview requests or content info, follow Keith on Twitter or his social media accounts. They appear under his photo on articles like this one.