Pregame 12/29: Islanders at Wild

The Islanders coming off a 2-1 loss to the Devils at home last night play the back end of a back to back set as they hit the road to take on the Minnesota Wild. This is the first of a short 2 game road trip to end the 2013 calendar year and the first time the Islanders have played the Wild since the 2011-2012 season where they swept the season series.

Last Time Out

Islanders (11-21-7);29 points, last in Metropolitan: Last night at home against the Devils they lost 2-1 without John Tavares in the lineup.

Wild (20-15-5); 45 points, 4th in Central: On Friday they lost 6-4 on the road against the Winnipeg Jets. The Wild have lost their last 4 games.

Key Opposing Players

Forwards

Mikko Koivu

Dany Heatley

Jason Pominville

Two former Islanders: Nino Niederreiter and Zenon Konopka

Defensemen

Ryan Suter

Keith Ballard

Goaltender

Niklas Backstrom

Islanders Key to Victory

Both teams could very well have top players missing for this game as the Wild will be without Zach Parise once again and the Islanders haven’t confirmed the status on John Tavares who is still day to day with the lower body injury. While the Islanders put up a good game without him against the Devils, they still look to get the captain back for tonight and try to get back on track.

Secondary scoring will need to continue as Frans Nielsen (3g/2a) and Kyle Okposo (2g/3a) are both riding five-game point streaks, while Thomas Vanek (3g/2a) has points in four straight games. Cal Clutterbuck also returns to Minnesota for the first time since the trade this summer and looks to have a strong game in his return against his old teammates.

The Wild have a team that is capable of scoring a high amount of goals each and every night so a strong defensive game is needed. This has been an area of struggle all season long and if the Islanders want to climb back in the playoff picture these are improvements that still need to be made.

Tonight’s game can be seen on MSG Plus and on the radio at 88.7 FM or 103.9 FM.

-John Santamaria

Follow me @JSantamariaNY and follow us @TCLIsles