New York Islanders at Winnipeg Jets – Can Isles “Clinch?”
The New York Islanders are on the road again today, as they travel to Manitoba to take on the Winnipeg Jets at MTS Centre at 3:00PM EDT. MSG+ will have the local television broadcast and WHRU 88.7FM will have the radio call.
The Isles are currently 23-16-5 (51 points) and are sitting in 7th in the NHL’s Eastern Conference and can all but clinch a postseason berth with a regulation win today. While two points wouldn’t technically ensure a playoff spot for the Islanders, it would put them in perfect position to make the NHL’s “second season.”
New York is on a 7-0-2 run since Apr. 1 and is 10-1-2 in its last 13 games, a run that is making the rest of the league take note.
Almost certainly keeping a close eye on the Islanders have been the Jets (23-19-2, 48 points). Winnipeg is just outside of the playoff picture, trailing both the New York Rangers the red hot division-leading Washington Capitals by two points.
The Isles will have to play another smart road game to ensure a victory over the Jets.
Despite going down 0-2 in Toronto against the Maple Leafs in their last game away from Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum, the Islanders battled back to earn a victory on the strength of five unanswered goals.
Centerman John Tavares returned to his scoring ways, netting two goals and one assist in the win. He now has 45 points this season (26 G, 19 A).
Today against the Jets, the Islanders’ top line of Matt Moulson, Tavares and Brad Boyes will look to continue their cohesive play. Thursday’s game against the Leafs saw all three players combine for four goals and four assists, allaying any fears that the first line was entering a scoring drought at a critical point in the Isles’ season.
New York is 1-0-1 against Winnipeg on the year, losing 5-4 in overtime at MTS Centre on Jan. 27 and winning 5-2 on Apr. 2 at the Coliseum.
Today’s game against Winnipeg presents the toughest test – on paper – for the Islanders as they close out their season with four final games on the road. After the Jets, the Isles will face Carolina Hurricanes, Philadelphia Flyers and Buffalo Sabres, all of which have been eliminated from playoff contention.
There’s no mistaking this game for one in which the Islanders are only seeking a single point; a tie or overtime loss – while still earning the team a point – is not the goal. The Isles are a confident road team and will look to take advantage of their season-long solid play away from Long Island.
1st line: Moulson -- Tavares -- Boyes
2nd line: Bailey -- Nielsen – Okposo
3rd line: Joensuu – Cizikas -- Martin
3rd line: Grabner -- Aucoin -- McDonald
1st D-pair: Hamonic -- MacDonald
2nd D-pair: Hickey -- Visnovsky
3rd D-pair: Streit -- Strait
Be sure to follow @TCLIsles on Twitter for up-to-the-minute Islanders news and notes, and ‘Like’ The Checking Line – Isles Edition on Facebook. Follow me on Twitter @MichaelWillhoft or shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org