Jets to face Islanders in final game before trade deadline

- March 4th, 2014

It’s official, Matt Halischuk is in for James Wright.

And that’s the only change the Winnipeg Jets are planning to make as they face the New York Islanders this evening at MTS Centre in what could be the final game for several members of both clubs.

As the clock counts down to 2 p.m. CT on Wednesday, the topic of the trade deadline was prevalent in both dressing rooms after the morning skate, moreso with the Islanders who boast two of the top targets on the market in Thomas Vanek and Andrew MacDonald — who ended up getting dealt to the Philadelphia Flyers for a pair of draft picks (3rd in 2014, 2nd in 2015 mid-afternoon).

Fewer than two hours before game time, multiple reports confirmed that Vanek will be scratched tonight either, for Islanders not to run risk of injury before moving him.

As for the Jets, most players are simply waiting patiently to see what’s going to happen leading up to the NHL trade deadline.

“It’s entertaining to watch, lets put it like that,” said Jets winger Evander Kane. “You can’t really control what happens, you kind of wait and see. Obviously, every deadline there are some big moves and the media makes a big deal of it.

“We’ll see what happens. I’m not expecting anything big, but you never know. I don’t really follow the chatter, I just follow the trades when they happen. Since we don’t have a game tomorrow, I’ll pay attention to it a little more.”

The dominoes began to fall on Tuesday, with several deals occurring and the Anaheim Ducks in the middle of three of them, bringing in heart-and-soul D-man Stephane Robidas (who is out with injury until mid-March) and shipping out G Viktor Fasth to the Edmonton Oilers and Winkler product Dustin Penner to the Washington Capitals where he’ll bring some size and playoff pedigree to a team in a serious battle to qualify for the post-season.

As for tonight’s match-up, the Islanders are without centre John Tavares (knee) and are in big trouble, sporting a 23-32-8 record and in a bit of a downward spiral after pushing the Pittsburgh Penguins to seven games in the opening round of the Stanley Cup playoffs last spring.

The Islanders are in a tough spot when it comes to the playoff race, but that could make them even more of a dangerous team to play against.

“A lot of times, when a team is struggling, they don’t have anything to lose and they just go out there and play, maybe take some chances,” said Jets captain Andrew Ladd. “For us. We need to be strong on our end of the puck. And that’s been a big reason for our success. There’s no reason that should change at any point in any game.

“We don’t want to look past this game, we know they have a lot of dangerous guys and they’ve been struggling. They’re probably going to try and use this game to get back on track.”

I attended Game 4 of that series against the Penguins and you can count me among those who are shocked to see the regression of the Isles this season

The trade of Matt Moulson never worked out and the goaltending has been below par, whether it’s Evgeni Nabokov (11-13-5, 2.89 GAA, .902 save%) or Anders Nilsson (1-3-2, 3.68 GAA, .878 save %).

Nilsson gets the call for the Islanders tonight.

There was no talk of the Islanders’ relishing the spoiler role here. That won’t change until the folks from Long Island are officially eliminated.

“We’re just trying to win games right now,” said Islanders defenceman Travis Hamonic. “We can’t look at the big picture, we can’t look where we are. We’re well aware of what the situation is. All we can really do is to try and get better.

“We’ve got a young group of guys in here and we want to start working towards something.”

Hamonic also addressed the battles he’s had with Kane during several previous meetings.

“He’s a guy that competes hard,” said Hamonic, who has one goal and 10 points in 50 games this season. “We played against each other in the Western Hockey League, obviously we’ve had some pretty good battles here at the NHL-level. I don’t think he’s going out of his way to come after me and I don’t think I’m going out of my way to go after him. Just two young guys that play the game hard.

“With him being on the left wing and me being on the right side (on defence), we kind of see a lot of each other. And that’s fine. Those are the kind of battles that you want. I respect him as a player. You’ve got to give him his space, he creates his space. But you’ve got to play him hard as well.”

Here’s how we expect both teams to start, though that could change if Garth Snow pulls the trigger on a deal:

Jets

Andrew Ladd-Bryan Little-Michael Frolik
Devin Setoguchi-Mark Scheifele-Blake Wheeler
Evander Kane-Olli Jokinen-Dustin Byfuglien
Chris Thorburn-Jim Slater-Matt Halischuk

Toby Enstrom-Zach Bogosian
Mark Stuart-Jacob Trouba
Adam Pardy-Keaton Ellerby

Ondrej Pavelec (Al Montoya)

Islanders

Michael Grabner-Frans Nielsen-Kyle Okposo
Anders Lee-Ryan Strome-Colin McDonald
Josh Bailey-Brock Nelson-Cal Clutterbuck
Eric Boulton-Casey Cizikas-Matt Martin

Calvin de Haan-Travis Hamonic
Thomas Hickey-Lubomir Visnosky
Brian Strait-Matt Carkner

Anders Nilssson (Evgeni Nabokov)

Categories: Hockey

Subscribe to the post

Leave a comment

 characters available