NHL: New York Islanders, Las Vegas Golden Knights and Winnipeg Jets take to the rink
As we inch closer to the Stanley Cup playoffs, there are still likely to be plenty more twists and turns. We have handpicked the best games, and we will preview them. This includes a New York derby between the New York Islanders and New York Rangers on Friday evening. 24 hours later, the Montreal Canadiens face off against the Winnipeg Jets.
New York Islanders learning to grind out results
After an 8-4 thrashing of the Washington Capitals last week, the New York Islanders have been pushed hard in their last couple of games. They eked out a 3-2 win over the Philadelphia Flyers before edging past the Capitals earlier this week 1-0. While it’s difficult to brush aside every team, there’s something to be said for a hard-fought win.
Currently, the Islanders are second in the MassMutual East division, and they boast a 25-10-4 record. They have also been rather prolific to date, netting 118 goals, and they have the best goal difference record in the division. They will also want to make amends for their 5-0 thrashing at the hands of New York Rangers when the two sides last met in January.
New York Rangers in danger of being frozen out of playoff picture
As things stand, Rangers are fifth in the MassMutual East division and they are in danger of missing out on the playoffs. Their record, at the time of writing, stands at 18-15-5. Although they trounced the Pittsburgh Penguins 8-4 earlier in the week, they trail Boston Bruins by five points. As far as the top three are concerned, Rangers are nine points adrift.
Las Vegas Golden Knights back to best after blip
Las Vegas Golden Knights started April in inauspicious fashion after they lost back-to-back games against Minnesota Wild. Earlier this week, they were rampant against the St Louis Blues as they recorded a 6-1 win. And the Golden Knights will have their forward, Chandler Stephenson, available for selection after he served a three-game ban for elbowing Los Angeles Kings defenceman Tobias Bjornfot during a heated encounter.
Arizona Coyotes quick coming out of the traps
While the Knights will fancy themselves against the Arizona Coyotes, they can’t take anything for granted. Rather, the Coyotes are quick coming out of the traps in games. Earlier this week, the Coyotes started their game against the Kings in blistering fashion as they scored early on before claiming a 5-2 victory. But they can’t afford to switch off against the Knights for a moment!
Eric Staal makes mark on Montreal Canadiens debut
Eric Staal announced himself to the Montreal Canadiens in style against the Edmonton Oilers earlier this week. After rallying from 2-0 down, Staal saved his best for last as he scored in the dying moments of overtime to seal a 3-2 victory for the Canadiens. The result left the Canadiens in fourth, but Staal made a good impression.
Meanwhile, the Canadiens earlier this week arranged a deal for forward Jan Mysak. The 18-year-old agreed terms on a three-year entry-level contract. Mysak — who has two goals in 13 AHL appearances this term — was drafted 48th overall in the second round of the 2020 NHL Draft.
Pierre-Luc Dubois feeling less burdened with the Winnipeg Jets
Previously, Pierre-Luc Dubois felt like he had to carry the Jets on his shoulders. But now there is more creativity and more players stepping up to the plate. And Dubois has acknowledged that he feels less pressure as he has great team-mates around him. He said: “They’re good players, so they’re trying to make it easier for me out there.”
There is a six-point gap between the Jets in second spot and Scotia North leaders Toronto Mapleleafs. And in Dubois, they have a player who can keep the Jets breathing down the Mapleleafs’ nets. The Jets’ clash against the Canadiens has all the ingredients to be a classic and Dubois will be key to the Jets’ chances of grabbing a win.