New York Islanders (26-31-8, 28th) at Philadelphia Flyers (34-26-4, 6th/E)
The [it's like a bank or something] Center
7:30 p.m. on VERSUS [a.k.a. "All Flyers-Pens, all the time"], radio
Opposition broads: Broad Street Hockey
When the Islanders last played in Philadelphia, they called up Trevor Gillies for his second-ever NHL game on his 31st birthday, and Scott Gordon used the enforcer for an entirely predictable six shifts and 3:16 of ice time, none of it coming after the mid-way point of the second period. Resident Flyers tool Danny Carcillo spoke before that game about how he avoids designated enforcers (boy, does he ever) and doesn't let them fight with him, and he followed through by executing the role of the protected pest by, among other things, playing dead after a Freddy Meyer check to draw a boarding penalty.
Last weekend, Carcillo let the Leafs' Colton Orr -- who is essentially a high-paid penalty-taker -- dig his own hole with stupid penalties, including a hilarious sequence where he came out of the box, led a 2-on-1 and ... ran the goalie, landing right back in the box. Carcillo said afterward:
"That guy, I’m never going to fight him. He doesn’t really do anything unless someone fights him. I knew he was going to run me. I sucked him into a few (penalties) and luckily we scored a little later."
I'm not going to rehash my rant about the pointlessness of employing players whose sole purpose is to fight (er, sorry, "protect"), but I just don't see how calling Gillies up for tonight's game helps much. Gordon doesn't skate his enforcers much (and I don't think he should), and though their implied "puttin' on the foil" presence on the bench may provide the confidence of security for the other Islanders, I've yet to see evidence of that helping gain wins. Improved special teams -- now that would help garner wins.
That said, the Islanders have a crowd at forward and, with only temporary injuries to Blake Comeau and Trent Hunter (Doug Weight was also out with the "flu" yesterday), perhaps the idea is to just execute a one-game callup that doesn't mess with the Bridgeport forwards many of us would rather see get another look. And I guess, you know, it's Philly -- so if stupid stuff does happen (though I notice they waived Riley Cote, so that's one clown gone), it doesn't hurt to have someone who can bring the crazy.
Certainly I don't begrudge Gillies his third NHL game -- lord knows what enforcers have to do to make it this far, so hats off to him -- I'm just curious, in the grander Islanders scheme, what the tactic is. I suppose for a one-game callup in theoretically hostile environs, that's it.
14 Games. That Rather Sucks.
As you've probably heard or remember all too well from the singular experience of living through them, the Islanders are winless against the Flyers for 14 games now. So of course now, with the Isles playoff hopes now an elusive vapor -- no doubt now is the time the Isles will pick to pull out a win. Just when things are sour with a pre- and post-Olympic run of losses, surely now is when they tease us. No? Well, it was a thought.
In 12 of those games, Martin Biron has been the goaltender of record. Of course, nine of those were wins for the Flyers, and three this year were losses for the Islanders. (Technically, they were all wins for the Flyers and losses for the Islanders, but you know what I mean in a Biron-centric sort of way.)
By the way, in NHL math this run is 0-11-3 for the Isles and, naturally, 14-0 for the Fly. Essentially, the Islanders are the single biggest reason the Flyers have made the playoffs the past two seasons, and with two meetings left and the Flyers currently holding the sixth seed, the Isles have a good chance of making it three-for-three.
In the words of the great wet blanket Maggie from Caddyshack: "Oh yeah? Well tanks fer nuttin'!"
17 Games Kinda Sucks Too.
Poor John Tavares. It's 17 games without a goal now. When this slump finally breaks, we better see that smile again. This game is supposed to be fun. ... Ville Leino, the 26-year-old Finn who couldn't make it work in Detroit, has one goal in two post-Olympic games with the Flyers. No idea how many games he'll get (and whether tonight would be one), but it will be interesting to see if he can convert into a steal. ... A recurring topic around the Flyers is what's wrong with Scott Hartnell -- which of course is a loaded question.
28th Place? Well, That One Depends on Perspective.
If you missed it over the weekend, the Hurricanes, despite (or because of?) a massive trade deadline purge, lapped the Islanders, an accomplishment I once thought impossible. (So there's my crow-eating; serves me right for thinking that franchise's unending bipolar cycle would delay its next about-face until the end of the year.) With Carolina and Columbus now a point above the Islanders: Begun, the lottery watch has.
Don't forget this one's on Versus -- so sorry to you DirecTV subscribers.
The Versus announcers grate on my last nerve. Revised: Apparently Doc "verb before subject" Emrick and our own Billy Jaffe get the call tonight, so beyond Doc's tendency to save the subject of his play-by-play for the end of each sentence ("Passing it is Tavares, bouncing it off Carcillo's face and into the goal is Okposo."), there will be no grating for me. No Joe Ba-simply-insufferable! to wear on my ears. I guess my revised prediction is the over/under on minutes for Gillies should be 4:00.