The New York Islanders close 2016 with a road swing through North America’s cold central plains, first in Minnesota tonight followed by New Year’s Eve in Winnipeg.
How big of a threat are the Wild? Well, they’re on an 11-game win streak, are pretty good at minimizing shots from dangerous areas, are a point out of first place in the Central and have outscored opposition by 37 goals.
While their record might flatter their overall performance a little bit, they obviously pose a serious threat to the Islanders’ chances of winning a fourth consecutive game for the first time this season
With wins in three straight and injuries limiting the extras, the Isles will make no lineup changes, including starting Jaroslav Halak in net. That means expect lines like so:
Anders Lee -- John Tavares -- Josh Bailey
Shane Prince -- Brock Nelson -- Anthony Beauvillier
Nikolay Kulemin -- Ryan Strome -- Cal Clutterbuck
Andrew Ladd -- Alan Quine -- Jason Chimera
Nick Leddy -- Travis Hamonic
Thomas Hickey -- Johnny Boychuk
Calvin de Haan -- Dennis Seidenberg
The Wild will start Devan Dubnyk in goal, riding a nine-game winning streak himself during Minnesota’s hot run. That’s a bit different than Darcy Kuemper, who was in goal for the Islanders’ 6-3 thumping of the Wild way back in innocent October.
Believe it or not, that Isles win was the only time a team has beaten Minnesota by more than a goal this season.
Famously, first-year Wild coach Bruce Boudreau has now coached four double-digit winning streaks in his NHL career with Washington, Anaheim and Minnesota. If they keep it up and Columbus keeps it up, the two former Central foes would have their lengthy win streaks on the line for a New Year’s Even clash.
But for now, the Isles are in town. For more on the Wild, check HockeyWilderness.
Leave your First Islanders Goal picks here by game time, which is 8 p.m. EST.