A question relevant to tonight's first in the home-and-home with Pittsburgh: "How are the Penguins playing .700 minus most of their stars?" That's a question on the Islanders' minds, as they gameplan for a home-and-home that could get contentious but might just be any other game. Because the Islanders, plainly, need to get in form.
The coaches are both saying the right league-friendly, Mario-approved P.C. things. Here's Dan Bylsma:
"In terms of what happened last year, we're certainly not going into this game with any kind of thought of repaid debts from last year."
Of course, Bylsma also "tried" to keep Eric Godard from leaving the bench. Sometimes these players, you know? They don't listen to their coaches and they just do their own thing. Settle their own scores even.
Despite the Post headline, this isn't the first meeting of the teams since last season's Friday Fight Fest, the game which thou shalt not see even though it had tons of actual hockey. At the end of the season, these two teams played to a shootout and kept the lid on.
The Times gets in on the action (remember though: Last year's fight fest was bad for the game). And despite this Post-Gazette whimpering and fear-mongering, splash pages on every team's NHL site promoting their next games are, in fact, the norm. Don't worry pally, Gillies won't be "double-shifted."
Strangely, as a fan I feel more the way the coaches claim they feel: Not focused on last year -- Turtle Talbot's gone, Cooke is allegedly neutered, Jagr is a Flyer (wait, what?) -- but rather focused on the need for points. While last year's meetings and the histrionic reactions stirred my blood, right now I just want the Isles to display some good hockey.
I'm tired of rehashing last year -- and it wasn't even my team that left with tail between the legs. But if we must, though some call last year a travesty, here's one who was initially appalled until he did what so many national media did not -- he actually watched the full game. And came away with a much different impression of how and why it all went down.
More relevant to tonight's game: Another Penguins injury. This time Zbynek Michalek is out 4-6 weeks with a broken finger. Oh, and more relevant to tonight's teams: Who remembers Game 7 in 1993? Enjoy the whole thing, why don'tcha. Volek!
Meanwhile, everyone including Trevor Gillies and Rick DiPietro downplays last year, and a bit of wondering if/when DiPietro will play next (he's backup tonight). From the morning skate reports via Newsday's Arthur Staple and ESPN's Katie Strang, it looks like:
- Milan Jurcina, Nino Niederreiter and Trevor Gillies are skating -- so don't count on Gillies tonight (the other two are nursing injuries).
Evgeni Nabokov is not, so look his way for the start.
Coliseum: It's Getting Late But It's Not Too Late, Episode 342
Oh, but that's hockey. On-ice stuff. We couldn't go more than six games without The Elephant taking a headline, could we? Gary Bettman made one of his periodic appearances on WFAN to remind them what hockey is, and the question turned to what Nassau County will do -- or what the Islanders will do if they don't -- about an arena. This occasion's fun word of choice was "malpractice."
"It’s inconceivable to me that the Islanders wouldn’t be on Long Island. It would be malpractice for those in charge to allow that to happen." [FanShot talk here]
Haven't heard the audio [here maybe?], but it sounds like the usual Coliseum saga interview: It's late but oh not too late. They better do something soon. Can't believe the politicians have let it drag this long. Queens, Suffolk, etc.
Fornabaio's Bridgeport chat is delayed a day, but you can forgive him because it's in the name of reporting.
Chris Pronger took a scary stick to the eye area last night but initial reports are rest to let the swelling go down should do it. A fun part of last night's Flyers-Leafs game was Jaromir Jagr's first goal since coming back to North America, which featured a stunning display of defense:
- Also from that game: How will the Leafs know what they have in the Monster?
- Jiggs is back for this schedule: Jiggs McDonald’s 2011-12 Broadcast Schedule | Sports Radio NY
- IPB with Islanders prospect Robbie Russo.
- Stats for better understanding hockey: Hockey Prospectus | Angles and Caroms: Power Play Scoring And The Danger Of Small Sample Sizes
- And: Driving Play: Zone Start Adjustments: A Rejected Idea
- Stats that maybe don't help: A critical look at that DIGR goaltending stat posted here a while back.
- And finally: Luck vs Shot Quality in Shooting Percentage - Arctic Ice Hockey
First Islanders Goal (FIG) Picks
Leave your FIG picks in this thread. It includes a link to the current standings.