Islanders vs. Wild Gameday: First Versus Not Quite Such

The Minnesota Wild are at the top of the NHL standings. Digest that if you haven't already. Even by points percentage, they're tied for second (behind the somehow indestructible Flyers).

Yet like last year's Stars and the previous year's Avalanche, they are drawing the scrutinizing lens of Men Who Study Possession Stats. More recently, when garik16 looked at the Islanders' poor possession numbers, he found the Wild still at the bottom of the league. By those figures, the Wild should not be a first-place team. Yet they win.

Nyi-islim_medium Mindal-starthin_medium
Islanders (9-14-6, 28th) @ Wild (20-8-4, 1st über alles)
8 p.m. | MSG+2 (
twice the plus!) | Audio: NHL - WRHU
[
MS Software or Something] Center
Running Wild:
Hockey Wilderness

Adding a new wrinkle to the competing narratives of what Wild things may come this season, they have a litany of Islanders-esque injuries. In fact, the Wild are at their most serious triage point just as the Islanders get some bodies back. If late December becomes the time when the Wild's slipper no longer fits, the question will migrate to injuries vs. regression.

From the Isles fan side, better than any health news: Tonight you get Jiggsy with it.

Bodies Dropping

Michael Russo reports Pierre-Marc Bouchard skated this morning, so he is quite possibly in the lineup and escaping concussion concerns. Russo says if he doesn't go, the Wild are likely to run seven defensemen with recently scratched Greg Zanon being the extra.

Significantly, Mikko Koivu is ruled out as are Devin Setoguchi and Guillaume Latendresse. Making his NHL debut is Miami of Ohio product and undrafted free agent Jarod Palmer, who is a guy. The Minnesotan has a rep for durability and battlin', so expect him to be in hyped form for his NHL debut in front of a bevy of home fans.

Bodies Returning

Andrew MacDonald returns along with Nino Niederreiter, but Mark Eaton -- on this road trip -- remains out though he's itching to come back ahead of schedule. The Islanders are tweeting:

Matt Martin - Marty Reasoner - Nino

...with D pairings like so:

Mark Streit - Milan Jurcina
MacDonald - Travis Hamonic (gettin' the band back together)
Mike Mottau - Dylan Reese

Al Montoya starts in goal.

Turning it around on a Tough Road Trip

Neither Minnesota nor Winnipeg are fun places to play right now. Tonight is first versus darn near last. Recent close losses hurt more thanks to the sins of November. So here we are.

Is Jack Capuano out of ideas, or just tired of talking about it? In the "bodies back" Newsday piece linked above, he says:

"We use all these analogies, 'need to be consistent, need to play 60 minutes,' I don't even know what that means anymore," Capuano said. "We just got to find ways to win. That's the bottom line."

Yes, the bottom line. The Wild have it right now. The Islanders don't.

FIG Picks

Leave your First Islanders Goal picks here. And hope there is a winner.

Other Reading

So ... Let's. Go. Islanders. Then.

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