New York Islanders (14-15-6) at Winnipeg Jets (17-18-3)
7 p.m. MTS Centre
Radio: 101.9FM, 660AM - WFAN, 88.7FM - WRHU
The New York Islanders look to end 2016 on a winning note after their three-game winning streak was snapped on Thursday night in Minnesota. While Winnipeg is unforgivingly cold, the Islanders have been hot in Manitoba, going 6-0-1 in their last seven trips to MTS Centre. The Jets are also looking to bounce back from a Thursday night loss, as they fell 5-3 to the streaking Columbus Blue Jackets.
Islanders Waive Jaroslav Halak:
The New York Islanders placed Jaroslav Halak on waivers on Friday afternoon.
Halak had a 6-8-5 record this season with a 3.23 goals-against average and a .904 save percentage, but General Manager Garth Snow said that the move was about solving the Islanders crowded crease. The team had been carrying three goalies in Halak, Thomas Greiss and JF Berube.
"We want to give Thomas and JF an opportunity to play, get ice time," Snow told reporters in Winnipeg. "Obviously get a chance to get some wins that we desperately need."
Snow said he still thinks Halak - who is 62-38-13 as an Islander and set the team's single-season wins record (38) in 2014-15 - is a quality goalie and had played in some big games for the team. If Halak clears waivers at noon (Eastern Time) on Saturday, he'll be assigned to the Bridgeport Sound Tigers. Snow said he wants to see Halak work hard and set an example with the Sound Tigers.
"Coming to the rink and being the hardest worker, having a great attitude, that's something that doesn't matter who you are and what position you play and what role you have in the organization, that's what we expect out of everyone in this organization," Snow said. "We expect nothing less form Jaro in that regard."
Greiss and Berube will be the Islanders duo going forward this season. Greiss is 8-5-0 this season with a 2.48 goals-against average and a .922 save percentage while Berube is 0-2-1 with a 3.27 GAA and a .901 SV%.
Ladd Returns To Winnipeg:
Andrew Ladd played four and a half seasons in Winnipeg, starting with the relocation from Atlanta until the trade deadline last season. Ladd recorded 246 points (110G, 136A) in 348 games in Winnipeg, serving as the team's captain during his tenure. Ladd made two returns to Winnipeg last season with the Chicago Blackhawks, but said it'll still be special to return to Manitoba. Ladd brings a three-game point streak (3G, 1A) into Saturday's game.
Jets Led By Young Stars:
The Winnipeg Jets are being led by a trio of young stars, as Mark Scheifele, Nikolaj Ehlers and rookie sensation Patrik Laine are the team's top three scorers.
Scheifele, 23, is the oldest and currently leads the Jets with 32 points (15G, 17A), as he builds on a career-high 61 points from last season. Ehlers, 20, has made significant strides in his second season with the Jets, as his 30 points are eight shy of his 38 from last season. The skilled Dane has six points (4G, 2A) in his last five games.
As good as Scheifele and Ehlers have been, it's been Laine who has taken Winnipeg and the NHL by storm this season. The second-overall pick has 19 goals in his rookie season, including a pair of hat-tricks. Overall Laine has 30 points in 38 games, good for second on the Jets, two points behind Mark Scheifele.
The Jets (37 points) are currently two points out of the second Western Conference Wild Card spot.