For reasons that should be obvious as long as NHL allied forces still have not forced regime change in Atlanta, I always fall into the trap of thinking games against the Thrashers are a good chance for the Islanders to pick up two points.
Over the past two seasons, though, the Islanders have lost five of seven (Losing 4-0 at home Dec. 1, 2007 was particularly painful). In three games this season -- all Atlanta wins -- the Isles have been outscored 13-6. Apparently, the Thrashers see the Isles the way I've seen the Thrashers (and the way every other NHL club sees both). But the Falconer at Bird Watchers Anonymous has even observed a modest improvement in Atlanta's play of late.
New York Islanders (13-29-5, 30th) at Atlanta Thrashers (17-27-5, 29th)
7 p.m. EST | [like, light bulbs or something] Arena | MSG+
Thrashers blog: Bird Watchers Anonymous (formerly "... Large Talons?")
I won't fall for that trap this time, which of course means the Islanders will probably pull out a win and avoid the season sweep, lottery be damned.
Though the Isles have two games in hand, the Thrashers have 26% more points than the Islanders. That's a lot of ground to make up (squander?), even if it is just 8 measly points in today's NHL. The Lottery Wars have indeed begun in earnest, but the Islanders have a big enough lead where they can even afford some great game-winning performances from their young future stars. (Hint hint ... you guys can save those for home games, if you want. But whatever. Just, anything for a little glimmer of a bright future.)
Sean Bergenheim is on IR. Doug Weight and Trent Hunter are back -- so is Andy Hilbert, one of those guys who adds things you can easily miss (i.e. "Not goals," although he's potted some of those this year, too). Yann Danis is still the man of the moment. You probably know Ilya Kovalchuk has been named captain since the last time 29 met 30. So I suppose that means he and Bill Guerin will have to have some honor duel or something. (Hey, don't laugh: Ilya totally fights now.)
I don't care who's in the lineup -- I'm just glad hockey's back. But I look at the three returning players and I can almost talk myself into a win. Nah, not going there.