With 2016 coming to a close, the New York Islanders get set to take on the Winnipeg Jets in a battle of two teams who should be a lot better than their records show.
This will be Andrew Ladd’s first trip to the MTS Centre as a member of the Islanders. He started the season slowly but is bringing a three-game point streak into the game. Ladd scored 246 points in 348 games in Winnipeg, serving as the team’s captain before being traded to the Chicago Blackhawks.
Blake Wheeler has since taken over as captain of the Jets and continues to lead by example. Wheeler’s two assists on Thursday brought his point streak to six games. He has already had a six-game point streak this season, along with two three-game point streaks. Over this latest streak, Wheeler has three goals and four assists.
The big news for the Islanders was Halak being sent to waivers. The team is looking to run with Thomas Greiss and JF Berube in net for the rest of the season. Halak has had a poor year so far, but is 62-38-13 as an Islander, and set a single-season win record (38) in 2014-15.
The Islanders have enjoyed coming to Winnipeg over the years. They are 6-0-1 in their past seven visits to the MTS Centre. But the Jets have never finished below .500 in the month of December since moving to Winnipeg. They have a 6-6-1 record and will have to win this game to keep that streak going.
New York Islanders at Winnipeg Jets
MTS Centre – 6:00 p.m. CST
Broadcast channels – MSG+, SN
2016-17 Season Series: First meeting of the season
Winnipeg Jets – 17-18-3 – 37 Points
Home Record: 10-7-1
Hot Players: Blake Wheeler, Jacob Trouba
Key Injuries: Tyler Myers, Marco Dano
New York Islanders – 14-15-6 – 34 Points
Away Record: 3-8-2
Hot Players: Andrew Ladd
Key Injuries: Casey Cizikas, Adam Pelech, Ryan Pulock, Mikhail Grabovski
[miptheme_dropcap style=”normal” color=”#222222″ background=””]1)[/miptheme_dropcap] The Islanders have really struggled on the road this season, with only three wins in 13 tries. On the flip side, the Jets have won 10 times in 18 games at the MTS Centre. Both teams are coming off a loss to teams with an 11+ game winning streak and will be looking to end 2016 on a positive note.
[miptheme_dropcap style=”normal” color=”#222222″ background=””]2)[/miptheme_dropcap] Defence has been a weak spot for both teams this year. Currently, both teams are tied with 111 goals against (Islanders have three games in hand). The Islanders just waived Halak (.904 SV%, 3.23 GAA) to move forward with the tandem of Thomas Greiss (.922 SV%, 2.49 GAA) and JF Berube (.901 SV%, 3.27 GAA).
Meanwhile, the Jets have had their own struggles in net, riding two younger goalies in Hellebuyck (.913 SV%, 2.62 GAA) and Hutchinson (.896 SV%, 3.13 GAA). Both teams are also 4-5-1 in their past ten, and will each need their goalies to step up their play if they want to improve that number.
[miptheme_dropcap style=”normal” color=”#222222″ background=””]3)[/miptheme_dropcap] As mediocre as the Jets have been this season, they are only three points out of the second wildcard spot, making every single game important, even against Eastern Conference opponents. The Islanders, however, are a ways out of a playoff spot, due to the dominance of the Metropolitan Division.