Bruiser extraordinaire Micheal Haley gets the call to replace Josh Bailey tonight, which should come as welcome news to Isles fans who wanted someone, anyone, to pay for Alexei Ponikarovsky's check from behind that knocked Bailey out of this NHL and AHL season.
Perhaps as important: Jesse Joenssu's hat trick -- now that is a nice sign in a big game -- got the Sound Tigers a critical win over Lowell in their playoff push. As you can see from the Capuano quotes in that link, the JJ game is still a work in progress. This player-development thing is not simple.
New York Islanders (34-36-10, 26th) at New Jersey Devils (46-27-10, 2nd/E)
7 p.m. EDT | [insurance or something] Center | MSG/+, radio
In Lou They Hope for Immortality: In Lou We Trust
Meanwhile, Bailey's sophomore season ends prematurely, without the shot at important playoff minutes in the AHL. We'll talk more about this after the season's over, but his second year was a qualified success, an unqualified improvement. The unknown is whether he is best fit for his natural position at center, or at left wing, where he produced more in this season. He finishes as the Islanders' seventh-highest scorer:
|2008-09 - Josh Bailey||68||7||18||25||-14||16||3||0||0||15:28||74||9.5|
|2009-10 - Josh Bailey||73||16||19||35||5||18||3||1||2||15:08||12||14.3|
As for tonight, the Islanders can even the season series with another one of those late-season surprise wins over the Devils, or they can stay true to form and come away with nothing from The Rock. Martin Biron appears to be the starter, perhaps one last time.
This and That
- Bridgeport Playoff Picture: Michael Fornabaio has the low-down. The Sound Tigers can clinch tonight.
- Devils' Seeding Picture: Although they're tied in points, the Devils can keep the second seed if they win out or if the Penguins falter. (Please falter tomorrow, Pens.) John at In Lou We Trust notes that the Devils' loss to the Panthers was hardly a letdown -- it was a former Devils backup putting up a wall.
- Lottery Position Shenanigans: The Isles can still finish as high as 23rd, though that's unlikely. Eric has the full picture.
- Morning Skate Sights and Sounds: 7th Woman had a fun angle from the morning skate at the Coliseum (the team then buses to Newark). Rob Schremp, Bailey, dealing with being injured, which is to say being Islanders.
- Turning toward my bigamist perspective for a moment: Last night was a cool sendoff for Keith Tkachuk's final NHL game in front of Blues fans. Few dry eyes in the house. I hope the day again comes when a longtime Islanders gets a similar sendoff. (Although, come to think of it, I guess it's better to leave hoisting the Cup. But you get the picture.)
- Hating on Division Rivals: Did you catch Rangers-Flyers last night? I watched it on delay, and I was riveted. What an odd feeling: I don't care who loses, so I was just engaged by the stakes. The Rangers' win meant tomorrow's rematch is for all the marbles. The real victory here is that both teams sit in that purgatory known as 8th or 9th place.
In-game chat thread will be up this evening by game time.
Prediction: Haley and Gillies fight over who gets to fight.
Plea to the Hockey Gods: Please, you took Rob Schremp, Blake Comeau and Josh Bailey. No more.
WebBard is at it again. Here's Frans Nielsen. And below, here's the Tonelli treatment (he has plenty more):