NHL: Winnipeg Jets, Toronto Maple Leafs, New York Islanders and Washington Capitals ready for battle
It looks set to be another gripping week of NHL action. Fans are in for a treat, as the top two teams in the Scotia North — the Toronto Maple Leafs and Winnipeg Jets — face-off. Meanwhile, the New York Islanders pit their wits against the Washington Capitals in the MassMutual East.
Winnipeg Jets won’t let Edmonton Oilers defeat derail them
With the end-of-season playoffs fast approaching, the best teams will want to lay down a marker. The Jets were dealt a crushing 3-0 loss at the hands of the Oilers last week, who are also likely to be involved in the playoffs. Despite defeat to the Oilers, the Jets are second in the Scotia North, with a 27-15-3 record.
The Jets could be buoyed by the return of their captain Blake Wheeler. After being cleared to play last weekend following his recovery from a concussion, changes to the Jets’ schedule meant he sat out the reverse to the Oilers. However, Wheeler, who has 10 goals and 22 assists to his name this term, is in contention to face the Maple Leafs on Thursday evening.
Toronto Maple Leaf’s star Zach Hyman to miss Winnipeg Jets clash
The Maple Leafs will be without Zach Hyman after a collision with Vancouver Canucks’ Alex Edler last weekend. Hyman sustained a right knee sprain. Although he won’t require surgery, he could be sidelined for up to two weeks. Reacting to the news, Maple Leaf’s coach Sheldon Keefe said: “If he can get himself back in two weeks that would be great news for us.”
Veteran Patrick Marleau breaks NHL record
Although he’s no longer with the Maple Leafs, it was a very special night for San Jose Sharks star Patrick Marleau. He broke the NHL record, on Monday, for most appearances. Previously that honour belonged to Gordie Howe. As Marleau put on his skates for the 1,768th time his former clubs congratulated the 41 year old for his incredible achievement.
New York Islanders keeping the heat on Washington Capitals
The Islanders were far from their fluent best against the Philadelphia Flyers earlier this week, but they managed to eke out a 1-0 win in Overtime. Nevertheless, it was still a good way to respond after dismal back-to-back defeats against the Boston Bruins. The Capitals — who top the MassMutual East — will represent a stiff test for the Islanders.
Washington Capitals bulging the net with a goal-scoring streak
While the Capitals came off worse last weekend against the Bruins, they have developed a habit of scoring heavily of late. Before their defeat to the Bruins, the Capitals scored 14 in their previous three matches, and they netted six times in both of their wins over the Flyers. The Islanders must be switched on defensively, or they could be in for a long evening.
Capitals v Islanders has been a storied encounter with 227 NHL meetings. The Capitals have come out on top 114 times and lost 94 times and are favourites to win again.
Las Vegas Golden Knights continue rich vein of form
The Las Vegas Golden Knights continue to brush aside every challenge they face. Although they required overtime to get past the San Jose Sharks earlier this week, the Golden Knights top the Honda West division. Their record stands at 32-11-2 as the regular season enters the final stretch.
On Monday evening, they will face a resurgent Colorado Avalanche. At the time of writing, Avalanche — who occupy the second spot in the Honda West — boast a 30-9-4 record. They also have notched up four wins on the bounce, and they will give the Golden Knights something to think about.
As we skate closer to the playoffs have you picked your Stanley Cup winners yet?