Suddenly, the Islanders need to replace over 30 minutes of ice time between Chris Campoli and Mike Comrie. This doesn't sound like a job for Mitch Fritz.
Dean McAmmond, the depth grinder acquired from Ottawa to even out the trade of Campoli and Comrie for a 1st-round pick, will surely help. But on the blueline...? The Islanders official preview doesn't even list six defensemen, but expect them to call Joe Callahan back up -- unless Freddy Meyer is somehow fit to play after weeks of "day to day" status.
New Jersey Devils (38-18-3, 2nd/E) at New York Islanders (17-35-6, 30th)
7 p.m. | Nassau [gloriously unsponsored] Veterans Mem. Coliseum | MSG+/2
The Islanders came out against Carolina with one of their rare flat performances of this last-place season. With 17 wins they haven't been good -- but they've seldom appeared so disinterested. After the first trade deadline shock to their system yesterday, it will be interesting to see how they respond against the juggernaut Devils. The possible turnout of Lighthouse Project-frenzied fans dressed in white should add some energy to what has long been scheduled as Town of Hempstead Night.
It sounds like Brendan Witt may actually have a return engagement as a forward screener on the powerplay. Greg Logan, reading the tea leaves about the end for Comrie, had this from Scott Gordon about using Witt in front of the net on that unit:
"We're playing a team in the New Jersey Devils that does a very good job at that. It doesn't matter if it's a big guy or a small guy, if that's that guy's job, they do it. That's what we want our guys to do. If he can set an example in that area and the rest of the players become better for it, then, great."
Frankly, the undersized Islanders could use a few examples of guys using more physicality to claim territory. If Witt can do that for a spell, by all means let the veteran soldier have some fun.
As for the departed, Logan confirmed that scuttlebutt that Campoli asked for a trade:
"I was frustrated with my year and the way things had gone. I felt like a change was needed for me. From my perspective, I don't think I fit in with what Scott was trying to do."
Interesting scenario, because Gordon certainly pushed Campoli to take better advantage of his system. It almost makes me wonder if Gordon sees a higher ceilling for Campoli than Campoli -- a 7th-round pick who has surprised many in his four NHL years -- sees for himself. If Ottawa expects him to be their main puck carrier from the back end, I think he'll face more of the same expectations, although perhaps without the same exhausting system.
As for the Devils, they're the freaking Devils: Cruising along as usual. John at In Lou We Trust notes they've had some bad first periods lately, but they're going to need more than one bad period to blow two points against an injury-depleted club that's currently focused on process rather than result.
Finally, the usual Live Game Thread will be up around game time. That's the SBN feature that serves as an essential "chat" during games, with instantly updating comments and replies, etc. If you're around and feel like leaving observations or quips for posterity, the forum is yours.