New York Islanders (4-7-1) at Atlanta Thrashers (3-7-2)
7 p.m. EST | [electronics of some sort] Arena | MSG+
Last place is on the line when the Islanders visit Atlanta tonight. It will be an epic battle of AHL All-Stars: Oh come on, man -- I'm only talking about the coaches. Though in truth, Jeff Tambellini will be there, too. Highly touted Thrashers (nee Chi-Wolves) coach John Anderson meets not-highly touted but reigning AHL COTY Scott Gordon for the first time at the NHL level. Both are without their injury-riddled franchise goaltenders ... just like old times.
If you're not all about the Thrashers, you might be surprised to find Don Waddell remains their GM. Then again, the clock is (still?!) ticking.
A question to answer tonight is whether Gordon's "overspeed" high-tempo system is showing its first signs of wearing them down. In the past three games (in four nights), the Isles:
- fell apart in the third against the Canadiens,
- blew another three-goal third-period lead before beating the Blue Jackets in OT, and
- looked just plain dog tired at the Garden while eking out a 2-1 win over the Rangers thanks to two shorthanded goals.
And those were all in the luxury of home (well, sorta, when you count MSG). How will the legs look on the road more traveled? They're highly conditioned pro athletes, of course, but if the late-faltering thing becomes a trend, I could see some adjustments to turn "overspeed" into "Hitchcockspeed" when a lead is on the line.
The lab experiment continues.
Now for some news and worries from around the growing SBN hockey bloggerdom:
>>Surely you heard about Alexander Semin's translated assessment of Sidney Crosby? Well, Crosby reacted with the ennui you'd expect from a graduate of the Gretzky Institute of Diplomacy. [Links and commentary at SBN's Penguins blog, Pensburgh]
>>Speaking of Semin, Sabres blog Die by the Blade is wondering if Semin was slamming Thomas Vanek in the same interview. Me, I'm just figuring that since Semin didn't rip any Islanders, he's impressed with our whole roster and certain we could win the KHL title.
>>Avalanche blog Mile High Hockey is wondering if the last-place Avalanche, who have an, ah, "interesting" history of coaching decisions, will pull a Hartley on the Second Coming of Tony Granato.
>>To bring the room down a bit now .... James Mirtle collected the latest on the David Frost case, which seems sure to end in an acquittal -- because the alleged victims deny it happened. This whole mess -- and James has some frightening concerns -- touches on a sick, dark nexus between sports diversion, testosterone-laden "tough it up" cultural norms, and predators preying and manipulating vulnerable youth.
Although Frost will apparently avoid a conviction, for me the tell-tale, proven-in-court (back in Danton's attempted murder-for-hire case) reflection of what he's up to is this: Frost's client/former player (Danton) tried to have him killed, then used his only phone call to phone Frost and apologize from jail, and Frost pretended he was never the target -- nothing more to see here, please move on. The amount of psychological gymnastics going on there is a heart-breaking red flag of very bad things.