Blackhawks vs. Islanders Gameday: A Return Match Already?

Well, this is weird. Tonight the Islanders face the Blackhawks for the second time in six days. It's like 2012 NHL realignment ... in 2011!

It also reminds me that home-and-homes were more common back in the insular Campbell/Wales intradvisional playoff days, and fans always looked forward to them as escalating 48-hour bloodbaths. It didn't matter if Game 1 was a pacifist peace pipe pow-wow, somebody had to get got for one reason or another in the return leg. With realignment carrying a mandatory two games with everyone in the league, I wonder if they'll try to squeeze in more series like this when it's feasible. You know, for the hate.

Chi-slim_medium Nyi-yslim_medium
Blackhawks (16-8-4, 2nd/W) @ Islanders (9-11-5, 14th/E)
7 p.m. EST | MSG+ | Audio: NHL
- WRHU
Nassau [gloriously unsponsored] Veterans Mem. Coliseum
They brought their toys with 'em:
Second City Hockey

As for the Hawks, Corey Crawford is the type of goalie who would give up four goals to the Islanders right now. (So are Andrew Raycroft and Mathieu Garon, but whatever.) If that is not the cause, it is at least a symptom of Joel Quenneville electing to start Ray Emery tonight instead.

Come to think of it, Quenneville has never been a great goalie manager at any of his coaching stops. Not that he's had much to work with, but it seems his headcases always become more headcase-y on his watch. Maybe he was spoiled by Patrick Roy, the goalie during his assistant coach gig before he got his own bench to run.

You could wind Roy up and just let him run -- just don't feed him after midnight, and don't leave him in for too many goals in a blowout. But in Quenneville's general PR-speak that every coach has to do with the media for locker room consumption, he's never seemed to realize that there is a little Denis Lemieux in every crazy bird who wears goalie pads for a living. You need to handle them like they're in the secure wing of the hospital.

Still, Crawford's sub-.900 is all on him. So tonight we get the Hawks' other sub-.900 guy.

Last week's shootout "loss" was cool in that the Islanders hung with the Hawks, even controlled play for long stretches, and came back in the third after an abysmal second period. Hopefully this time Milan Jurcina remembers that Jonathan Toews is a really dangerous player.

Worth watching: The Hawks moved Patrick Kane back to Toews' wing, in part because they felt Marcus Kruger was ready for the 2C role. So far, so good in Q's eyes.

Lineup-Gazing

Presumably the lineup should be the same as the 5-1 romp over the Lightning. Mark Eaton, Andrew MacDonald and Jay Pandolfo are all still out for weeks, Michael Grabner (day to day) skated yesterday but I sure wouldn't rush a groin strain, nor would I mess with Nino Niederreiter's concussion.

Expect a daytime announcement of the goalie, but why sit Al Montoya now?

UPDATE 1: Indeed. Montoya starts.

UPDATE 2: Grabner will play tonight, and Wallace has been switched from an emergency recall to regular recall. He'll now require waivers to be reloaned to Bridgeport.

Also, for what it's worth, Jack Capuano liked the David Ullstrom, Tim Wallace, Josh Bailey connection about as much as anyone who watched that show:

"I liked it. David and Josh are guys that see the ice really well and Wally’s (Wallace) a guy that gets in there and establishes the forecheck. He’s not afraid to finish his checks and create some space for those guys."

Further Reading

Newsday on David Ullström. Really agree with Staple's lead there:

David Ullstrom is just the sort of prospect the Islanders have lacked over the last few seasons. He's not a top-five draft pick and not a young player from another organization who was deemed extraneous and scooped up by the Isles. He's a solid, two-way, homegrown player, the kind teams can never have enough of.

It's early, but that was certainly the idea when they signed him before his rights lapsed, and his growth curve has gone as hoped for so far. Keep it up, umlaut.

FIG Picks: Leave your First Islanders Goal picks in this thread over here.

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