To watch Doug Weight over the last five years is to watch a creative forward who, two decades ago, could rely on speed as an asset -- but today can only rely on guile and the hope that his body doesn't fail him on a given night. From knee to shoulder to pelvis to groin to even the swine flu, the Islanders captain is damaged goods.
That's not to say he isn't a welcome return who might help the team. Just that, clearly, his body at this stage of his career has trouble staying in the lineup. Whatever boost he brings, I'm not counting on it lasting through the second half.
Is the shoulder injury he's attempting to come back from -- one that came from a seemingly innocuous hit -- a relapse of the one he had in the 2006 Stanley Cup final? Or of the one that caused him to miss eight games in March 2008? To answer that would require the Islanders to be really un-HIPAA-like with their injury disclosures; I'd sooner expect a fifth Cup. Absent that, I'll just hope this latest rehab lasts a while before the almost inevitable next injury.
Weight's return would presumably stabilize the powerplay, where he (when healthy) and Mark Streit have made an effective point combo the past two seasons. Lord knows the 1-for-35 powerplay needs it. Will Weight definitely come back tonight, and at what position, and bumping which Tambellini or Schremp from the lineup? Those are questions that may be answered at the morning skate. Meanwhile, here's what's doing with the opponent, the Senators.
RBK (Vowels not included) Must Be Destroyed. Immediately.
I watched the last half of the Senators' 4-3 home loss to Colorado last night, and the first thing I noticed was that I was watching two of the most horrific hockey uniforms the NHL and its unholy partner R(ee)B(o)K have foisted upon us in the R(EE)B(O)K. EDGE. SYSTEM. era. I'll save the Avs' horrific unipron soiling of their once-pleasing mountain jersey for another day. But that SNES third jersey is an insult to the senses that literally makes me not want to watch a game involving that ... system.
This is coming from someone who has accepted every rip the Isles mid-90s Fisherman jersey ever received. Hell, at least the Fisherman had a theme to it -- one that made local sense, even if it disregarded storied franchise history. But the SNES disgrace combines the awful "none more blacker" trend with the ill-conceived tendency to force a nickname on a crest, and adds to it pointless ascending italics and completely random sleeve lines that end abruptly as if the artist suddenly realized what he'd done and swallowed the pill his teacher gave him long ago in the event he sold his soul to a sports apparel company. God, it's so horrible. Why, RBK, why? Why do you do this to us?
The second thing I noticed last night is that the Senators are without Jason Spezza and Daniel Alfredsson, and that's kind of a big deal. Pascal Leclaire, their astute acquisition-for-the-future at least year's trade deadline, had a poor night, so we'll see if they run him right back out there or give the Isles a look at the quasi-backup Brian Elliott, who's actually played two more games than Leclaire.
That's it, really. The Senators are missing two of their biggest guns (no, I'm not referring to Chris Campoli), so if the Islanders are serious about their desire to be in playoff territory (and personally, I'll humor them as long as they're in spitting distance), then they have to win games like this: A wounded team, five points above them, playing on back-to-back nights. They need to keep an eye on Alex Kovalev and make sure he doesn't have one of his twice-monthly big games. They need to hopefully restore their powerplay (with Weight's help, and perhaps help from John Tavares, who has one goal in 10 games), and they need to stay out of the box to avoid exposing their PK, whose effectiveness is six points lower than Ottawa's (82.3% to 76.3%).
Finally, they need to make sure the Sens marketing department doesn't force me to look at that mess of lines and seas of none more blacker.
Prediction: Weight grins from ear to ear ... unless of course he doesn't play.
Working on more All-Decade Team-like items, beyond just positions. Hopefully a couple more will be posted today and tomorrow. Have a great, safe New Year's Eve.