JETBLAST: Game Day Preview Feb. 14/12 Islanders at Jets

New York Islanders vs Winnipeg Jets

(23-24-8) 54 points (26-25-6) 58 points

13th in East, 5th in Atlantic

10th in East, 3rd in Southeast

Islanders

The Islanders have played some of their better hockey as of late and are one of the few teams to record a win at the MTS Centre this season. A prime trade target Evgeni Nabokov has been excellent and has practically played himself out of trade rumors as the Islanders would plummet without him in the net. There’s a chance he could still be moved but until they fall far enough out of the playoff picture he will be in the Isles net most nights.

Former first overall pick John Tavares has also been on a tear in January 2012 and has climbed into 11th spot in the scoring race only 15 points off the leader. PA Parenteau and Matt Moulson are not far behind giving the Islanders 3 players in the top 30. The Jets top player is 77th overall however the Islanders have 131 total goals to the Jets 139.

After the top line the Isles scoring drops off drastically as only 4 other players have eclipsed 20 points on the year. The Jets in comparison have 9 players with 20 or more points and Alexander Burmistrov is only 1 point away from making it 10.

New York is coming off a 4-1 loss to the Florida Panthers on Sunday and should be well rested for their trip to Winnipeg.

Jets

The Jets scoring woes seem to have a simple solution, play games in Pennsylvania scoring a total of 16 goals in 3 games after their 5-8 loss to Pittsburgh on Sunday. Like the Islanders the Jets should be well rested and have no excuses for tonight’s game.

Kyle Wellwood and Tim Stapleton both scored in their return to the lineup, while Dustin Byfuglien, Brian Little and Alexander Burmistrov also added goals in the loss. Ondrej Pavelec earned the dubious distinction of being the first goalie this season to allow 8 goals in a game. The last time a goalie gave up more than 8 goals in a game was last season in the Stanley Cup finals on June 6 when Roberto Luongo gave up 8 in an 8-1 loss against the Boston Bruins.

The most memorable time it happened was on December 2, 1995 when Patrick Roy let in 9 goals before getting the hook in what we all remember was his last game in Montreal in an 11-1 loss at home against Detroit.

The Jets will have to most likely face their third different starting goaltender in their third game against the Islanders as Rick Dipietro remains out with a groin injury, Al Montoya will be the likely back up as Evengi Nabokov as emerged as the number one man on Long Island since taking over and shutting out the Jets in a 3-2 shoot out win over the Jets on December 20.

Keys to Victory

Find a way to score on Nabokov. The Jets were on their way to victory when Al Montoya got hurt, Nabokov came in and was unbeatable, the Islanders forced overtime and won in a shoot out. This is stating the obvious but if the Jets can’t beat Nabokov they’re not gonna win the game.

Play solid defense. This is not a team that can win consistently in high scoring affairs, they need to keep the other team from scoring and capitalize on their mistakes.

Shut down the top line. If the Jets can win the top line battle the Islanders will have trouble scoring and victory should be the result.

Forget about Sunday, the loss can’t linger they need to move on and forget about it and make sure it doesn’t happen again.

Injuries

None

Starting Goalies

Jets – Ondrej Pavelec (20-19-6, 2.80, .900) [Confirmed]
New York Islanders – Evgeni Nabokov (13-14-0, 2.29, .923) [Confirmed]

Prediction

The Jets last bad loss was a 7-1 shellacking to the Detroit Red Wings and they responded with a 2-1 win over then first placed Minnesota Wild back at home. Tonight’s game should be a similar defensively responsible game and likely another 2-1 or 3-2 game and I see the Jets using home ice to their advantage and picking up the win.

Winnipeg Jets 2 – New York Islanders 1

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Jeff Stevenson is a co-founder of winnipegwhiteout.com and co-host of the popular Jets Hockey Podcast. He grew up in Winnipeg, MB and became very passionate about sports, hockey and the Jets. Now Jeff is proud and honored to help bring news and information about the Winnipeg Jets to fans around the world.

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