Micheal Haley is up to sprinkle the "grit" and "fire" and "emotion" Jack Capuano is looking for, David Ullström is around and at least earning Capuano's praise for effort, and TSN's Darren Dreger is saying Blake Comeau has been shopped. We're not quite at the season's quarter pole -- it just feels that way -- but the transitions and adjustments from the Islanders' disappointing 5-10-3 start are now under way.
Rick DiPietro gets the start tonight with Anders Nilsson backing up. (Al Montoya is "pretty close" but not ready yet.) Brian Rolston is out with an illness (we'll call it an inner body injury, you'll call it much worse), and Marty Reasoner(!) and Nino Niederreiter are also scratched. The Reasoner scratch puts either Haley or Ullstrom at center, the former of which would make for a traditional "energy" line and put a decent amount of pressure on Josh Bailey.
Also: Something about dressing in black.
That's right, tonight against the Orange Flyers who fell into the '90s trap of betraying their orange for black, the Islanders re-enter the third-jersey cash-in by ... overwhelming their orange and blue with none more black.
Sartorial distractions aside, the Flyers are banged up, carrying some bodies on the blueline that would give even Islanders fans pause -- we're talking ECHLers here -- and Chris Pronger is also out with an inner body injury. For a great rundown of how the Flyers got into this ECHL predicament, check out this Broad Street Hockey post on training camp roster management.
Of course, the Flyers still regularly outshoot opponents, have a better PP and PK than the Isles, and score 3.65 goals a game to the Isles' sub-2.00 performance. They're also giving up over three goals against per game, so ... if the Islanders could generate any offense maybe they could get in on that Ilya Bryzgalov party, too. (In truth, Bryzgalov's play has calmed down quite a bit lately. Don't expect another Winnipeg moment, unless by "Winnipeg moment" you mean "Isles are shut out again.")
Listlessness Loves Company
Still, you thought the Islanders lacked energy in their recent losses? They're not alone with that malady. For the Isles that equates to two embarrassing blowouts to two of the East's best teams; for the Flyers that meant two losses to two of the East's worst teams. You don't suppose they could make that three in a row ...? Nah. We're not that lucky.
Jaromir Jagr is expected to be back in the lineup tonight, and Braydon Coburn is making the trip. Coburn recently signed that big extension with a modified no-trade clause that by one count will make him the 35th-highest paid D-man in the league next season.
The other Braydon, of the Schenn clan, is recovered from injury but is in AHL Adirondack for now, joining the cast of Phantom characters that have some bad blood with the Sound Tigers. If Haley carries a grudge with him on his way up, maybe the boys in the locker room do that trick that worked with Jefferson in Fast Times at Ridgemont High:
Hey, anything to bust a slump here.
(Aside to this aside: My, Forest Whitaker and Sean Penn, so young then. Also: When that movie was released, the Islanders only had three Stanley Cups.)
(Aside to this aside to this aside: If you haven't seen that movie, I don't know what you're doing here. No but really, if you haven't seen that movie, Jefferson's younger brother makes the mistake of letting Spicoli (Penn) drive Jefferson's car, which he promptly wrecks. Their brilliant way of avoiding "my brother's gonna kill us!" is to stage it as a prank by the rival school.)
Anyway, since most everyone loves Haley, here he is via ESPN's Katie Strang about keeping tabs on the Isles this season:
"In my heart, I feel part of this team and want to be a part of it." he said. "Every time they did something, I felt it too."
Leave your FIG (First Islanders Goal) picks in this thread. I'm finally on the board, so I can stop doing my shutout reverse-jinx as it's finally lost its mojo.