New York Islanders vs. Winnipeg Jets
The Islanders look to start November with win over Jets, ending their five-game winless streak in process
Thursday, 11.3.2011 / 12:00 AM ET / News
By Dyan LeBourdais
|Team Record: 3-4-2
Last Game: 3-2 OTL vs. SJS
Season Series: 0 of 4
|Team Record: 4-6-1
Last Game: 4-3 SOW vs. FLA
Season Series: 0 of 4
The Islanders went 24-15-7 with defenseman Milan Jurcina in the lineup last season. The 28-year-old blue-liner then missed the first seven games of the season with a groin injury and after going 3-1-0 to start the season, the Isles dropped three straight for a 3-4-0 record.
When the 6’4 and 235-pound Slovak returned to the lineup last Thursday, he helped the Isles earn a point in each of his first two games; the Isles dropped a shootout decision to the Penguins and an overtime decision to the Sharks.
After Jurcina blasted a few shots during shootout drills at practice Wednesday, Islanders Captain Mark Streit said that he wished Jurcina would take advantage of his shot more often.
“Offensively, if he gets the chance, he should just blast the puck because his shot must be the hardest in the league or pretty much up there,” Streit said. “Overall, he’s great defensively, he’s big, he’s strong, he’s great on the PK and he’s a great guy to have in the locker room. We’re happy to have him back.”
With three goals and seven assists for 10 points in 11 games, the 12-year NHL veteran not only leads the Jets in scoring, he is also on pace to set career-highs. Acquired by the franchise through free agency in 2009, Antropov recorded a career-high 67 points (24 goals, 43 assists) that same season. As the Thrashers finished 12th in the Eastern Conference last season, Antropov’s numbers took a hit, recording 41 points.
Since the start of the 2011-12 season, Antropov has made a positive impact for the Jets. As the Jets set out on a seven-game road trip last Thursday, the centerman has recorded a three-point night (one goal, two assists) in the team’s 9-8 defeat of the Flyers and an assist in the Jets 4-3 OT victory against the Panthers.
Despite a five-game slide, the Islanders locker room is full of positivity. The team has seen a steady improvement in their play and likes where they’re at right now as far as their opportunities in the offensive zone. With four days off between games, the Isles have had plenty of time to tighten up some areas.
Islanders Head Coach Jack Capuano said he thought the team’s transitions into the offensive zone have “been great” the last few games, but defenseman Mark Eaton said they can always benefit from additional zone time.
“The more time we can spend in the offensive zone throughout the course of a game, we’re going to wear other teams down and we’re going to get more shots, we’re going to get more traffic in front of the net,” Eaton said. “Offense will come from that.”
With 37 shots against San Jose on Saturday, more even strength goals are bound to come.
“We had net presence,” Capuano said. “We were throwing pucks on the goalie. The guys have done everything we’ve asked them to do. We just haven’t scored many goals 5-on-5.”
So even though the team’s play at even strength has been a concern in the past, Isles forward PA Parenteau said they are moving in the right direction.
“The last game against San Jose was a good sign,” Parenteau said. “We had a lot of good chances, (Thomas) Greiss made a lot of really good saves. We just have to find a way to get goals past goalies. We have been struggling to do that a little bit, but with the guys we have in this locker room, it’s going to come so we’re not worried.”
Season series: The then-Atlanta Thrashers took three of four last season in response to the Islanders doing likewise in 2009-10. In all, the Jets/Thrashers have taken four of the last five meetings. While the Philips Arena is no longer on the NHL travel itinerary, the Isles did significantly better there than at home, logging a 12-5-2-3 record since 1999-2000 as opposed 11-11-0-0 in Nassau Coliseum, where they dropped both matchups last season as well.
Big story: It's the Jets' first trip through the New York area since moving to Winnipeg, and they'll cover all four stops. The Jets will head to New Jersey on Saturday and back to Manhattan to face the Rangers on Sunday. They'll stay within New York's borders with a stop in Buffalo on Tuesday to conclude their seven-game Eastern swing. So far, they've alternated wins and losses to go 2-1-0. The Islanders are trying to avoid a repeat of last year, where a 4-1-2 start quickly devolved into a season-wrecking 14-game losing streak, So far, it's at five despite picking up points in their last two games. (Continue Reading)
When these teams last faced-off on March 24, 2011, the Winnipeg Jets were still the Atlanta Thrashers. Atlanta's Captain Andrew Ladd scored the lone goal in the first period, sending the Thrashers ahead 1-0. John Tavares tied the score 1:38 into the second and then former Islanders center Rob Schremp scored the Thrasher’s go-ahead before the periods end. Despite 15 shots in the third, the Isles could not even the score for a second time. Al Montoya made 32 saves in the losing effort as the Isles fell 2-1.
|- Mark Katic - Shoulder (9/24 vs. NJ) - 9 games missed (Out indefinitely)
- Rhett Rakhshani - Concussion (9/27 at CGY) - 9 games missed (Out indefinitely)
IslandersPower Play %: 21.2%
Penalty Kill %: 86.1%
Home Record: 3-2-1
Road Record: 0-2-1
Goals For: 18
Goals Against: 23
JetsPower Play %: 17.1%
Penalty Kill %: 77.6%
Home Record: 2-2-0
Road Record: 2-4-1
Goals For: 30
Goals Against: 39
(Answer from 10/29: Jamie McLennan. McLennan would be a serviceable backup in his career, making stops in Calgary, St. Louis, Minnesota, Florida and New York, but never in San Jose.)
Check out the Islanders depth chart from Wednesday's practice at Nassau Coliseum.
Jets (Expected) LineupsForwards: Ladd-Little-Wellwood, Kane-Burmistrov-Antropov, McArdle-Stapleton-Wheeler, Glass-Slater-Thorburn
Defensemen: Enstrom-Byfuglien, Stuart-Bogosian, Oduya-Jones
Goaltenders: Pavelec, Mason
Expected Scratches: Scheifele, Maxwell, Mannino
Islanders defenseman Travis Hamonic: "When I was growing up, hockey was such a focal point in Manitoba, so everyone really followed the Jets. It was a shame that they left the first time, but I think now, everyone in Winnipeg is really excited. They’re really embracing the team right now, from everything that I understand when I talk to people back home. It’s exciting that I get an opportunity to play against them, but I’m very happy to be a New York Islander and hopefully tomorrow night will just be a normal game for us. We’re going to go out there and play a good game."