Islanders (18-21-6, 13th/E) vs. Hurricanes (17-24-8, 15th/E)
7 p.m. | MSG+2 (*unless you have TWC) | Audio: NHL - WRHU
Nassau [gloriously unsponsored] Veterans Mem. Coliseum
Also thumping the Caps: Canes Country
When these teams met for the first of three meetings this month, it was their first matchup since the announcement the Hurricanes would be added to a reconstituted Patrick Division under NHL realignment. Then came CBA politics. So much for that; as you were. The Southeast lives, with its two leaders tied for both first in the division and eighth in the conference.Conference-wide, we're definitely seeing tiers develop, with the Hurricanes and Islanders in the bottom tier joined by Tampa Bay, Buffalo and Montreal as five teams with either 42 or 43 points entering today's competition.
There are a whopping 14 games in the NHL today, so lots of Bettman Bonus Points to be had and lots of potential movement. If teams like the Islanders keep up a more competent pace and pretenders like Montreal and Toronto continue to falter, there could be an entertainingly broad bottom tier of teams whose fans swing from "lottery tank!" and "playoffs!!!1" on a nightly basis.
I assume something like that is what the Bettman Bonus Point is all about.
Islanders Lineup: A You Were
Steve Staios remains scratched for the third consecutive game and Evgeni Nabokov starts again. There was initially the suggestion of "rest" from Newsday after the first scratch, but now it's billed as simply healthy scratch.
It's hard to argue with the results, Dylan Reese doing fine and the Islanders winning both games.
On that note, fans remember some rough games from Reese last year (ahem) and are remarking that the Reese they've seen this season is someone else. There was talk in early season of him getting some helpful guidance from Bridgeport coach Brent Thompson, and he's certainly at the age of adapt-or-remain as far as NHL aspirations are concerned. Here's how Reese is quoted in Newsday today:
"I think some of the worst games I played last season were the ones that I'd come up the night before, just saw the guys for the first time in a month, maybe, was cast into the game to finish up. I feel this year, so far, has been undoubtedly the best of the three, and when the team's winning, the atmosphere is better, happier; that's a huge part of it."
Reese's skating and puck ability has always been his asset. Keep the game simple, cut down on mistakes, and his puck relief ends up being a bonus. (Especially in contrast to Mike Mottau's play most of this season.)
By the numbers, the Islanders special teams are considerably better than the Canes and they give up fewer shots. The two teams are tied in points, though the Canes have played four more games and have three more regulation losses. Locally they think there are signs of a turnaround though.
They've already begun their selloff though, trading Alexei Ponikarovsky last night to the Devils for a 4th and a college grad defenseman. In Lou We Trust calls the trade an "excellent rental" for the Devils, but of course they're the trusting sort. The Devils demoted Mattias Tedenby to make room, which might spare us hearing that pronunciation next Devils game day.
Cam Ward played last night, but he plays practically every night (42 games so far). We'll see if they give him rest on the road.
- Reading/discussion from LHH the last few days: Mark's second episode of the Lost Milbury Files (Berard) | A FanPost looking at Nino Niederreiter's internship this season | Some numbers on how John Tavares' linemates are scoring even more this season as his possession figures take off.
- Also, ghalbert watched Anders Lee and Robbie Russo play for Notre Dame on NBC Sports last night and gave a little report. Anyone else watch? Impressions? [Here's another report on ND's 3-1 win.]
- Here is the suspension video for the sucker punch to Ryan Strome's face. Ouch. Love the OHL intro graphic/sound effects though.
- Eric Hornick's history lesson today is a beauty, recounting (one of) the time(s) the Islanders punched back on the decaying Bruins.
- John Tavares is tied for the longest point streak in the league this year. If he gets another point tonight...last year's marks will be next.
- QMI on Blake: "Effort always seems to be there for Comeau, who was plucked from the New York Islanders via waivers in November. Results don’t always follow." They say he's getting chances though.
- The NHL and PA have settled a dispute over Hockey Related Revenues from last season, so the players' escrow checks are now in the mail. I really have zero sympathy for either side.
- It's a long shot, but you never know: The Oilers could pull of the rare Quebec Sundin-Nolan-Lindros feat.
- ESPN discusses which forwards are on the market. There seems to be a lot of desire for top-sixers.
- OT and frivolous: Is Philadelphia getting slightly less rude?
Of course the scratching of NHL realignment for next year means two classic Isles villains will not be behind the bench of divisional opponents. So enjoy this Kirk Muller visit, just like you enjoyed beating the reptile's team in D.C.
Leave your First Islanders Goal picks in this thread. Remember even if you're waaay behind like yours truly, you can catch up quick with a few multi-point nights.