Not sure what to make of matchup #1 in this two-game swing through Southern California. Tonight's opponent is certainly the weaker of the weekend's opponents, but they're theoretically the more desperate team -- "theoretically," because the Ducks with 72 points are actually further from a playoff spot than the Islanders with 67.
Thanks to sporadic interconference scheduling, we don't have a relevant history to point too. The Islanders are 10-6-4 all-time vs. the formerly mighty Ducks. Last season's meeting was one of those ridiculous "that's why they play the game" moments: A team that hadn't won yet in 2009 steals a 2-1 victory despite being outshot 40-14, thanks to good goaltending and a lot of luck. Yann Danis made 39 saves, J.S. Giguere allowed two stoppable goals (one being Kurtis McLean's 1st and only NHL goal), and the Islanders blocked 28 other Ducks shots.
Tonight, Kyle Okposo
is still out for the Islanders [WRONG! Sorry for the erroneous info.], but hey: Last game without Okposo was a 5-2 win over a superior opponent! The Ducks will be without high-minute, low-hockey IQ defenseman James Wisniewski, suspended for eight games for his hit on Brent Seabrook. He'll be replaced by Sheldon Brookbank.
Teemu Selanne is one goal away from his 600th in the NHL, which would make him the 18th NHLer to do so. (My goodness, I remember when there were only four NHLers who could claim that feat. Sigh.) That goal will also put him just one behind countryman Jarri Kurri. I hope he gets at least two more, and I hope none of them come tonight. Selanne has led the league in goals three times (including a tie with Alexander Mogilny). Mike Bossy did it just twice, though the rest of his career coincided with the prime of some guy who wore #99.
If you want thoughts on Jason Blake, you've come to the wrong place. (This spot is the home of Blake appreciation on the Internet.) It's not that I didn't enjoy his time served; it's just that I've spent enough words on him in my day, I'm retired from that.
This is a late one, but the game thread will be up tonight for Friday-night hockey enjoyment, and I hope to be around.
Prediction: Jason Blake scores. John Tavares turns Tuesday's performance into the start of a big finish.