(No, setting foot on "Boston ice" is not in fact a huge deal. But I get a kick out of "Tavares returns to Canadian ice"-type stories, so why not extend the tour everywhere, from Boston to Anaheim and beyond?)
Remember my Quixotic hope that the Senators might experience a "Leafs hangover" Thursday night? ("Remember" it?! The hell? I just stumbled on to this site while searching for something completely different. But while I'm here: this site sucks.) For this matchup with the Bruins, I'm going for another hockey cliche, in the opposite direction: The Rebound Game. Your candidate: The big, bad, Boston Bruins, who have sandwiched their bludgeoning of Carolina between two embarrassing home losses.
The Bruins played a decent first period against the Ducks Thursday night -- then proceeded to get trounced, 6-1. The Ducks, despite their uninspiring start to the season, are a better team than the Islanders. (That's right: Hard-hitting news here.) Or, more relevant: The Ducks match up much better with the Bruins than our beloved Isles do. They can play the big down-low game, they can put bodies in front of the net and leave them there. They can frustrate the Bruins long enough to get the B's -- even Zdeno Chara -- all discombobulated.
So yeah, I'm not particularly optimistic about tonight's game against a hungry 1-2 team. But before you accuse me of being a Denis Downer, please recall that last season's Bruins-Islanders matchups were things to ignore:
Different team and all, sure, but there was the post-Thanksgiving Massacre. There was perhaps the Isles' best effort in the series, a 2-1 loss marked by 40 Tim Thomas saves. There was the mid-March matinee, which also ended 2-1 but featured a wasted 5-on-3 that got Mark Streit's (and my) goat. Finally, after the youth had taken over and given us late-season hope, there was the embarrassing flubbed end to the season in front of the home fans.
That's four games, four losses. Tonight is a (slightly) new Islanders team, with a more confident attitude and more familiarity with the system. Plus: some goaltending to cover some of the gaps.
Still, the Bruins are wounded. Thomas has been disappointingly human. Claude Julien is in a foul mood. Can we expect goals? Maybe. There have been 21 in the Bruins' first three games (9 GF, 12 GA). But you know that is eating away at Julien's dome the most, so two blood-letting home losses out of three gets the whip out:
"I think we need to grab their attention right now," Julien told BostonBruins.com. "We are looking for commitment. We are looking for effort [and] attitude. I think all those things put together is what needs to happen in order for us to be the team we should be."
That preview intimates that long-awaited goaltending prospect Tuukka Rask might even get the start. This team has big expectations and needs to start reflecting them sooner than most.
Islanders Lineup: Any Changes?
Meanwhile, in the Islanders net, who would you go with? I'd go back to Dwayne Roloson, since in a true platoon you should do more than Martin Biron did Thursday to earn consecutive starts. As far as that and any other lineup moves, I'm sure we'll find out much later than we'd like. But I tend to expect Gordon to stick with Rob Schremp at least one more game before doing the Tambellini dance. (Of course, I expected Gordon to stick with Tambellini more than one game before doing the Tambellini dance, so ...)
As usual, you can discuss those questions or other preview matters here (or start completely separate topics in FanPosts like this one or this one), while a new in-game chat thread will go up within an hour before the game.