It's NHL Injury Night in Pittsburgh! They may not be the decimated Capitals, but the Penguins and Islanders each bring a "healthy" (ha, sorry) dose of AHL fill-ins into the mix to cover for the men who have been dropping like Tribune Co. collateral.
New York Islanders (10-16-2) at Pittsburgh Penguins (15-9-4)
7:30 EST | [Igloo ain't a bank] Arena | MSG+
It kind of stinks to play the Penguins these days, because even when the Islanders push the Pens back against the ropes, Michel Therrien knows he can just stick Malkin and Crosby together and all will be fine by minute 60 (or 65, if necessary). Of course, lately the two of them are lighting up the league without having to share the same ice. It's okay, though: I'm sure if we lose enough, some day our Gretzby and Malkssier will just drop out of the sky, too.
But there's hope: The Penguins have lost three in a row, including last night in New Jersey. According to Frank at Pensburgh, the Pens got pushed around last night and missed defensemen like Hal Gill and Philippe Boucher, who are:
"...able-bodied defensem[e]n that [don't] play scared like Letang and Goligoski."
Ouch. So since the Islanders are in, ahh, a bit of a dry spell themselves, I recommend putting on the foil. Punch them in the mouth, so to speak. Try to frustrate Crosby and maybe even get him in da box for a little shame.
What the heck, if we're gonna bring the "overspeed" forecheck, might as well add a little blood and guts to the equation -- particularly if it changes our fortunes against a team that's had our number so far this season. The Islanders' divisional record is not pretty. (Okay, their whole record isn't pretty. Fair enough.)
Islanders record vs. Patrick Gary Bettman Generic Atlantic Division opponents
vs. Flyers: 0-2-1
vs. Penguins: 0-1-1
vs. Devils: 0-2
vs. Rangers: 1-1
vs. Capitals: 0-1
Joe Callahan is back in Bridgeport after his one-game, emergency NHL debut, which means -- sigh -- Thomas Pock is still here. ... Andy Sutton is expected to be back from the flu. ... Jon Sim's waiver fate should be known this afternoon (bank on it: he's not going anywhere). ... Expect Scott Gordon to continue to play with the lines after the decent showing in Philadelphia ... Expect Joey MacDonald to return to the crease. ... Bruno Gervais is still hurt, but you can watch the game with him "at the Islanders official viewing party at Dave & Buster's in the Source Mall in Westbury."
And Doug Weight is now five points from 1,000 regular season NHL points.
The Greater One
While we're on the Penguins, check out this recollection on Mario Lemieux's comeback from the Penguins' version of Chris Botta. It was announced eight years ago today. I remember this news. I remember hearing about his first game back (1G, 2A, of course). I remember driving from St. Louis to Chicago's [airline] Center and back through the night just to make sure I caught him live again. And I remember shedding a tear (allergies, I'm sure) each time. What can I say? I love hockey, and that man knew how to play it like no one else.