In one of the stranger quirks in the schedule, the three metro New York teams are entering something of a round-robin tourney this week that features the New York Islanders playing the New Jersey Devils three consecutive times.
The lineup could be different for each game though, as Aaron Ness was recalled on emergency basis with Mark Eaton (lower body) and Dylan Reese (flu) uncertain for today's game, and Anders Nilsson gets today's start in goal. [UPDATE: Eaton is good to go; Ness' brief emergency recall is over after pre-game skate.]
Mixed in with it all is a Devils-Rangers tilt in Newark Tuesday, as well as an Isles visit to the Garden next Sunday once their Devils trilogy is over. I'm sure familiarity will breed intensity this week regardless, but imagine the stakes if the Islanders had made a better February push for a playoff position.
This doesn't complete the schedule though: The Isles and Devils meet one more time in early April to finish out the season series. Last time out, way back in November, the Isles hung on for the win when the would-be tying goal was ruled to be kicked in by Zach Parise.
- Martin Brodeur is to start for the Devils, who trounced Washington 5-0 last time out. For the Isles on back-to-back afternoons, this is the perfect time to play AHL Goalie of the Month Anders Nilsson so it's good to see he'll be in.
- The Devils are in the sixth seed right now but if the season ended today they'd be the visitors in a nice pairing with the Florida Panthers, who have fewer points.
- Alexei Ponikarovsky is likely to miss this one; he's had a precautionary MRI on his leg but they're not expecting a serious injury.
- John Fischer's preview at In Lou We Trust delves into team metrics for the Isles (like low shooting percentage, comparing them to last year's Devils).
- Because he was such a popular acquisition around here and his trade mourned horribly, I thought you'd appreciate a Star-Ledger update on Brian Rolston as his career winds down.
- OT but quite familiar: Bruce Boudreau pretty ticked off at officiating.
Leave your First Islanders Goal picks here.