UNIONDALE, N.Y. — The Winnipeg Jets will attempt to make it two wins in a row as they continue their six-game road trip.
Standing in the Jets’ path is a New York Islanders squad that has suffered through a difficult month and trying to get things turned around before it’s too late.
“They’ve lost three in a row so I’m sure they’re going to be looking to get back on track in their building and come out with a good effort,” said Jets captain Andrew Ladd. “We’re going to have to be ready right from the get-go. We know they’re a team that plays with a lot of speed and we’re going to have to be ready to skate and match that.”
Jets head coach Claude Noel isn’t about to be fooled by the Islanders suspect record. He’s knows they have some dangerous weapons at their disposal.
“The Islanders have played pretty well. They haven’t been successful but they’ve been in all the games,” said Noel. “We’ve got our own situation that we’ve got to look after. We’re going to have to play hard and defend well, which is really what we’re trying to get done.”
Former Islander Al Montoya will make his sixth start and seventh appearance of the season tonight, while Kevin Poulin gets the start for the Isles, with Evgeni Nabokov still on the shelf with an injury.
The Jets will ice the same lineup and revert to the same combos and D pairings they started Monday’s 3-1 win over the New Jersey Devils with.
Islanders defenceman Travis Hamonic shared his thoughts on his team’s early struggles and the importance of getting their hard-working identity back to a degree.
“We’ve kind of got back to basic a little bit in what we need to do as a team and what makes us successful and what differentiates us from every other team in the league,” said Hamonic. “We know what we have to do. We’re not reinventing the wheel in here, not doing anything crazy or drawing up a different scheme. It’s execution and hard work that is going to get us out of it.
“We’re a group with something to prove, a little bit.”
I also asked Jets captain Andrew Ladd, who attended the Team Canada orientation camp with the St. Malo product this past summer, what Hamonic was like to play against.
“He’s one of those guys that when you watch, you may not notice but when you’re playing (against) him game-in and game-out, he’s just solid, through and through,” said Ladd. “He’s got a great stick, he’s positionally sound all the time. That’s what I’ve noticed from him the last couple of years and that’s a pretty big compliment when you’re a defenceman.”
Here’s how I expect both clubs to start on Wednesday:
Jets Gameday lines
Andrew Ladd-Bryan Little-Blake Wheeler
Evander Kane-Olli Jokinen-Devin Setoguchi
Matt Halischuk-Mark Scheifele-Michael Frolik
Eric Tangradi-James Wright-Chris Thorburn
Toby Enstrom-Dustin Byfuglien
Mark Stuart-Keaton Ellerby
Grant Clitsome-Jacob Trouba
Al Monotya (Ondrej Pavelec)
Thomas Vanek-John Tavares-Kyle Okposo
Michael Grabner-Frans Nielsen-Josh Bailey
Pierre-Marc Bouchard-Peter Regin-Cal Clutterbuck
Matt Martin-Casey Cizikas-Brock Nelson
Andrew MacDonald-Travis Hamonic
Thomas Hickey-Matt Donovan
Aaron Ness-Matt Carkner
Kevin Poulin (Anders Nilsson)