Woe, the ballad of Jeff Tambellini. I don't want to say Doug Weight's decision to have surgery finally gave Tambellini another chance -- because "chance" in purgatory is relative here -- but it's just too fitting that that spot opens up and now Tambellini has to sit out with a groin injury. The flip side is now we get to watch Matt Martin (emergency recall), and watching Matt Martin is just plain fun.
In a weird blip, the Islanders have actually converted on five of their last 16 powerplays (31%). Add finally keeping a clean sheet on the PK last night against the Devils, and the game-to-game highs and lows almost beg one to ask, "Should I still be whining about special teams?" Probably, yeah.
But when the season has shifted to taking little joys from things like lottery watching and keeping the Devils out of 1st place for a moment, you take what you can get.
With the Leafs five points away from the Isles' 28th spot, and the Isles five points away from the Rangers' that's-not-how-you-tank 21st spot, tonight's game has ... lottery repercussions. (Though the lottery race obviously has double the gallows humor for the Leafs. Their lottery guy also scored twice last night.)
Still, last night's 6-4 Leafs win over the Oilers proved, these lottery battle royales can be entertaining. When these teams first met in November, the Leafs were nine points behind the Isles. So progress for them, I guess.
The Leafs' PK (72%) has been and continues to be historically awful. Their powerplay (16%) is just a tick better than the Isles (15.8%). One of these teams' special teams units is going to leave tonight thinking, "Hey, we did well!"
Doug Weight Interview
The gang looked alright without the captain last night -- obviously, his injury-saddled contributions had been reduced to a minimum. But I'm still going to miss that guy. Here's his typically wordy and thoughtful interview about fighting through the injury, planning to aggressively rehab after surgery, and having no regrets no matter what happens:
(About six minutes in, he really gets into the details of playing through the injury and the toll it took outside -- trouble sleeping, taking (implicitly) painkillers to get ready to play each night, etc.)
Prediction: These teams put up 72 shots between them.
Reminder: This one's a 5 p.m. start, and worse, you were supposed to change your clock and stuff last night. I don't really know what time it is right now. I don't shower much.