Islanders vs. Capitals Gameday: 1993 Villain Behind the Bench

Life's too short and sport too frivolous to hold many grudges, but as an Islanders fan I do hang on to a few: So I hope the current Washington Capitals head coach fails in this endeavor and heads back to the OHL where I don't have to see his face.

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Islanders (16-21-6, 14th/E) @ Capitals (24-17-2, 7th/E)
7 p.m. EST | MSG+ | Audio: NHL
- WRHU
[Daddy, what's a 'phone booth?'] Center
Following Faust's Coach:
Japers' Rink

That's probably lame of me, but it's got nothing on his cowardly act in 1993. I wish it could be undone, reversed like this video, but of course it can't. So 19 years later it still stands as the most spineless, jaw-dropping display of feeble-minded poor sportsmanship these eyes have seen on the ice: Something about an assault from behind, well after the whistle, as your emotionally incompetent way of handling losing (and a critical turnover) -- it just makes the stomach turn to this day. Shame.

Enough about that. I otherwise enjoy the Capitals and felt remorse (much like this) when the fleeting re-incarnation of the Patrick Division (plus the Carolina Whale) was foiled by CBA politics.

So the Isles meet the once-and-future(?) Patrick foes again, now with one of their franchise heroes behind the bench. If you've forgotten these teams' first meeting this season, it was back in the Bruce Boudreau era when the Islanders -- I am not making this up -- erased an early 2-0 deficit, scored four even strength goals overall and won the game 5-3 on P.A. Parenteau's late winner.

That was back when the Capitals had a 9-2 record. Since then, they've been to the depths and back. They're just a point behind first place Florida in the Patrick, Adams, Jet & Snowbird Division, and I know who I'm betting on to come out on top there.

(One more note about Patrick days: You know what I miss? I miss Tom Mees, R.I.P. And I miss hearing his voice saying, "the series continues at the Capital Centre in Landover, Maryland.")

The Capitals have won seven straight at home, Tomas Vokoun has won six straight at home -- they needed his 43 saves to squeak out a win over Carolina last time -- and here's one of many fun facts about their run:

[name redacted]'s club hasn't trailed at any point during the seven-game home win streak, outscoring opponents 21-8 during that stretch.

They're also 12-8-1 since firing Boudreau and installing the other mammal.

Islanders Lineup: Nabokov Starts, Reese In

After yesterday's game (or, as the joke goes, about six minutes into the first period), Kevin Poulin was returned to Bridgeport. It's a shame those early defensive breakdowns made his second appearance of the season anti-climactic, but this will keep him hungry. And remembering that he will be called on to bail out the gaffes of those in front of him.

As of last night the transactions did not list Al Montoya coming off IR from his concussion, but that seemed a formality. Newsday's Arthur Staple reports Evgeni Nabokov gets the start and Dylan Reese steps in for Steve Staios ("rest"). Tim Wallace lives on, but Bridgeport's winning streak features some other well-performing characters.

One thing I didn't mention about the last Islanders-Caps meeting: That was the first time Jack Capuano shook up the lines and put Parenteau with Frans Nielsen, who logged the second assist on PAP's winner. (This was during that six-game losing streak, the latter few where the chances were there but the finishing was not.)

Right now I don't see any break in Kyle Okposo's place next to the John Tavares-Matt Moulson duo, but you never know when we'll see more alterations with the other nine. (Also of note: It was Michael Grabner, not Okposo, who got the first non-Parenteau look there next to JT-MM.)

Capitals

One name not in the Caps lineup last time around: Dmitri Orlov, the 2009 55th overall pick who's now played 25 games and collected seven points from the blueline. There are a lot of guys selected in that round before him who have yet to make an impact. In related news, Mikko Koskinen is in Finland, but playing well at least.

It looked like they would still be without Nicklas Backstrom (concussion) and Mike Green (eternally nagging groin, which has now become abdominal surgery), who wasn't in the last meeting either.

The Capitals are still outshot overall 30.2 to 28.1 on average, but it would appear not so in the Fenwick close/tied category (50.51). Their powerplay is clicking at 19.7% (5th) by goals and ranks 13th by shots.

Any more ways to say this should be a challenge, one requiring no bone-headed early mistakes?

FIG Picks

Leave your First Islanders Goal picks in this thread. And keep it up: there's superstition, and then maybe there's karmic reward for the season-long winners.

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