Coming off a pair of 4-3 wins on the weekend, the Jets will try to complete the mini New York trip sweep when they face off against Lou Lamoriello’s Islanders. The Jets were on the right side of a third period comeback Sunday, coming back from 3 goals down to defeat the Rangers in a shootout, all this after blowing a 3-1 lead before squeaking out a 4-3 OT win against the Devils the night before.
Connor Hellebuyck will get the nod in net tonight, he is still looking to regain his form from last season, as he has posted a below average .902 sv% and an extremely high 3.07 GAA in his 20 starts this season, still though he has an 11-7-1 record, winning games does matter, but the Jets will need more from him if they are serious about contending. Of course the struggles don’t rest solely on Hellebuyck, and he shouldn’t be shouldering ad much of the blame as he has been, the Jets have been allowing a lot more shots from the slot, especially the high slot, as compared to last season. As has been a repeated narrative, play better defensively, allow less shots, allow less goals, simple really. Don’t get me wrong, Helle has allowed a fair amount of “weak” goals, something he didn’t do last year, I am almost at the point of cringing at every shot that is thrown towards the Winnipeg net. Almost…
Luckily for the Winnipeg hockey team, they have an incredible forward group, that seems to be able to score at will, which is helping them through this defensive zone struggle they are going through. Scheifele has been hot of late, earning him the first star of the NHL week that just finished. Patrik Laine of course earned the first star for the month of November which was expected as he buried an absurd amount of goals in a dozen games. Up and down the lineup this team can score, and that does make up for some dzone liabilities. For now.
The Isles average just about 28 shots on net per game, average only 3 goals and carry a 15.4% powerplay, all in the lower third of the league, they are being carried right now by a 10.7 shooting percentage, and some decent goaltending from Greiss and Lehner. Former Jet Andrew Ladd will not play tonight, he is out with a leg injury. It is believed that Thomas Greiss will get the start. Obviously this Isles team lacks a big star, but they have a few fun young players, including Matthew Barzal, who has 21 points in 25 games this season. But, the Jets should be able to handle this team, it is the Jets we’re talking about so it might not be that much of a given.
Of note, Brendan Lemieux will slot in for Andrew Copp, who is feeling under the weather, and will be re-evaluated in Winnipeg. No other lineup changes as of now. Interesting that Petan doesn’t get, I’m going to assumed that Maurice wants Lemieux in against a chippy Isles team, which is the wrong decision, skill wins games, not face punching. #FreePetanAgain