FIG NOTE: After getting a few suggestions for this over the weeks, I'm trying something new today with the FIG picks: Leave your pick in this FanShot here. Same format as before, it's just now they get a dedicated thread. We'll see how that works. By participation levels, I gather you all are having fun with them; that's the goal.
Minnesota (33-24-6, 10th/W) @ Islanders (23-32-9, 14th/E)
Nassau [gloriously unsponsored] Veterans Mem. Coliseum
7 p.m. | MSG+ | audio - WRHU 88.7
They will outlive Norm Green, and that is good: Hockey Wilderness
The Wild is...erm, are in a dogfight in the West, where 11 points separate 4th from 13th. They enter tonight just two points out of 8th...and 7th...and 6th. I'm not sure many expected them to be even this close by this time of year -- and lately, they've done it without Mikko Koivu. After winning 9 of 11 bridging January and February, the Wild spent the rest of Western civilization's shortest month doing the win-loss-win-loss drill. I do not expect them to make the playoffs, but I do expect they'll give the Isles a good game tonight. Good chance for the Isles to play spoiler.
The intense Western battle has gotten a lot of attention this year (somewhat like the East last year), but I suspect it's a sign of the times: With a salary cap and the NHL's "The People Demand A Winner" shootout regime comes parity. The former is fine with me -- I like even playing fields. The latter still stinks to me -- I hate artificial point inflation and the hollow meaningless satisfaction of "winning" via breakaway drill. It feels so Charlie Sheen.
While tonight is the second of a travel back-to-back for the Isles, it's the first of back-to-backs in New York for the Wild. They're at the Garden tomorrow night.
Micheal Haley left last night's game after taking a shot on the knee. Trevor Gillies' 9-game suspension was completed last night. We'll see what's what at game time.
The Islanders are 6-5-5 against the West this year, and 3-1-1 against the Smythe North, I mean the Northwest, so far.
Links and Sundry
- Michael Fornabaio's weekly Bridgeport chat is today, at 1:30 p.m. Catch it live or check the replay if you see this too late. Fornabaio did speak with Robin Figren about that Sweden article...his response is in that chat and in a forthcoming write-up at ConnPost.com
- It's that time of year, but this is a good one: The Star-Tribune's piece on Eric Nystrom returning to the Coliseum tonight. I wouldn't mind if it went like last year's visit, where he gets a goal but his team loses.
- I haven't gotten a chance to check this out, but John Z., the creator of Yes Islanders! is starting a Isles video discussion show, "Top Shelf," and the first one is on YouTube here.
- Speaking of BlogBoxers, here is the archive of the Islanders Hockey Blog interview with Calvin de Haan.
- Per Anarcurt's FanShot and others, Michael Grabner was NHL Rookie of the Month for February. Time to start working on March...
- Among Eric Hornick's "Skinny" tidbits: The Islanders are 3-20-5 without Milan Jurcina this year.
- A mid-week prospect report at the official site. If you missed it, WebBard's Sunday report and discussion thread was here.
Speaking of "green" -- except the good kind, not the soul-stealing Norm kind -- this promo is from the Islanders:
Bring three (3) consumer electronic items or one (1) compact fluorescent light bulb to the Box Office at the Islanders' 7 p.m. game next Tuesday, March 8th, and receive a voucher for a ticket to the Thursday, March 24th game against the Atlanta Thrashers.
The Islanders and LIPA also encourage Long Islanders to cut down on pollution and carpool to the Islanders game on March 8th. The first 100 cars with four (4) passengers or more arriving at the Islanders game will receive complimentary parking for the evening.
FIG Pool - Please READ
If you missed it in the intro, please don't leave your FIG picks in this post's comments; leave them in this dedicated FanShot here, with the same rules as before. We'll see how that goes. All of this is a process to decide once and for all how we're going to handle FIG picks next season. They keep growing in participation, so hopefully we can also conjure up a better prize for the season-long winner than an NHL Guardian poster -- although you must admit the other prize, total consciousness on your death bed, is nice.
If you're going tonight, let us know. Not sure how known this is, but you can comment during the game via mobile too.
Moment of Zen
The year the Islanders and the North Stars met. Nice voice here, but the best part is the embers of disco still not quite completely extinguished: