The Islanders have earned a point in four straight games (3-0-1) but blew a two-goal lead to the Philadelphia Flyers on Sunday night and lost in overtime, 3-2. The Blue Jackets have won three of their last four including a wild 7-6 overtime win over the Senators on Sunday. That was the start of a season-long five-game road trip for the Jackets.
The Islanders will start Thomas Greiss in goal. He was just named the NHL’s second star of the week after going 2-0-1 with back-to-back shutouts and a .971 save percentage. Greiss’ goals-against average was a sparkling 0.98.
The Blue Jackets will counter with Sergei Bobrovsky who has already played in 37 of the team’s first 46 games. Bobrovsky’s strong play this season has been one of the keys to his team’s success. He has a 1.97 GAA and a save percentage of .932.
Columbus Blue Jackets at New York Islanders
Barclays Center – 7:00 PM EST
Broadcast Channels: MSG-Plus and Fox Sports Ohio
2016-17 Season Series: Dec 10, 2016, Blue Jackets 6, Islanders 2
New York Islanders – 19-17-9 – 47 points
Home Record: 13-8-5
Hot Players: John Tavares, Thomas Greiss, Anders Lee
Key Injuries: Travis Hamonic
Anders Lee – John Tavares – Josh Bailey
Brock Nelson – Ryan Strome – Andrew Ladd
Anthony Beauvillier – Alan Quine – Jason Chimera
Nikolay Kulemin – Casey Cizikas – Cal Clutterbuck
Nick Leddy – Adam Pelech
Thomas Hickey – Johnny Boychuk
Calvin de Haan – Dennis Seidenberg
Columbus Blue Jackets – 32-10-4 – 68 points
Road Record: 14-5-3
Hot Players: Sam Gagner, Scott Hartnell
Key Injuries: David Clarkson, Markus Nutivaara, David Savard
Brandon Saad – Alexander Wennberg – Nick Foligno
Boone Jenner – Brandon Dubinsky – Cam Atkinson
Scott Hartnall – William Karlsson – Josh Anderson
Matt Calvert – Lukas Sedlak – Sam Gagner
Zach Werenski – Seth Jones
Jack Johnson – Dalton Prout
Ryan Murray – Scott Harrington
1) The Blue Jackets have a big edge on special teams. They own the league’s best power play which will go up against the Islanders 19th-ranked penalty kill. The Islanders are only 27th with the extra attacker while the Jackets are the league’s seventh best penalty killers. The Islanders will have to find a way to contain the Columbus special teams to keep this game close.
2) The Blue Jackets have also shown rare resiliency this season. Columbus is 10-6-1 when opponents score first, one of the few NHL teams with a winning record. The Islanders, on the other hand, are just 4-12-3 when yielding the first goal of the game.
3) John Tavares is by far the Islanders’ best player and he’s been red-hot lately. In his last six games, the Islanders captain has eight goals and nine points. No player in the NHL has more goals since Jan. 13. The Blue Jackets must slow down Tavares to contain the Islanders who struggle to score if their best player isn’t providing offense.
4) Cam Atkinson is presently third in the NHL with 23 goals. The Islanders will have to slow Atkinson down if they hope to contain the Jackets’ third-ranked offense. Columbus averages 3.29 goals per game.
5) Blue Jackets head coach John Tortorella is a familiar face to the Islanders. Tortorella was head coach of the rival New York Rangers from 2008 to 2013.
The Blue Jackets are the stronger team in practically every statistical way, but the Islanders have played better of late since turning to Doug Weight as interim coach. Greiss is hot and will have to continue his stellar play to keep the Islanders in this game.
Tortorella will no doubt be looking for his team to play better defensively after allowing six goals on Sunday against Ottawa. Expect the Blue Jackets to try to buckle down in their own end and slow the Islanders down in the neutral zone.
The Islanders have been playing better lately, but the Blue Jackets represent a much tougher challenge than their recent opponents.