The Islanders hit the road following a five-game home stand. Their first stop is Winnipeg to play the Jets. The Isles won three of five, with their latest win coming against the Buffalo Sabres in overtime on the 27th. A win tonight would give them a three-game winning streak. Their win before the Sabres came against the very team they’re playing tonight. The Islanders took care of the Jets easily for a 5-2 victory.
Now we shift to Winnipeg where the Jets are hoping they can protect home ice just like the Isles were able to do. Both of these teams have quietly asserted themselves with pretty nice starts to the year. The Jets are one of the surprise teams of 2017. The Golden Knights hold the honour for THE surprise team of 2017, but if it weren’t for them, the Jets would be there. They enter Friday night with a record of 21-11-5. It puts them at 2nd in the Central, behind the Nashville Predators who have 49 points to the Jets’ 48. The Blues are tied with the Jets at 48 points. The Golden Knights are 1st in the Pacific, and the Jets are 2nd in their division. Go figure.
Meanwhile, the Islanders are trailing by 5 points in the Metro, but have put themselves in a position where they can make a run in the second-half of the season. For that to be possible, the defence has to kick it up a notch and get going. They had a nice game against the Sabres, but that’s against the Sabres. They can’t play offences like the Sabres every game.
They also can’t expect John Tavares, Josh Bailey, and Anders Lee to go off every night. With that said, their offence is absolutely stacked with depth. Rookie Mathew Barzal is making a case for the Calder, and I didn’t even mention Jordan Eberle. Over on the other side, Blake Wheeler is having himself a year. Head below for our free Islanders vs. Jets pick on Friday night in the NHL.
N.Y. Islanders vs. Winnipeg Jets Pick
Blake Wheeler has done a fantastic job in his role with the Jets. A role player with the Bruins years ago, Wheeler has taken over as more of a go-to player in Winnipeg. He may only have 9 goals, but he is making everyone else better around him. Wheeler has 33 helpers as he in pace to put up whopping numbers in the assist category. It puts him in 3rd, behind Voracek and Josh Bailey. The Jets’ offence has been producing with 3.26 goals per game. In their last ten games they’ve scored 3 per game, but have allowed 3.1 per on defence. Certainly not as bad as the Islanders, though, who gave up 3.7 goals per game in their last ten.
Overall, the Islanders are allowing 3.46 goals per game. They sure looked better against the Sabres the other night, but note that the Sabres rank near the bottom of the league in offence, and it was right after the Christmas break where there could have been a bit of rust for Buffalo. They are scoring at a clip of 3.54 goals per game, 2nd in the NHL. The OVER has gone 6-1 in their last seven meetings, with an average of over 6 goals scored. I don’t expect anything to change in Winnipeg, as the Isles’ defence gets back to being a punching bag against the Jets.
PICK: OVER 6 (-110)