The most important thing about tonight: John Tavares is OK. Banged up, but fine. That may mean the already physical Los Angeles Kings target him even more, but a lineup without him would look particularly ugly against one of the league's top teams.
This is a relatively humane road trip for the Kings, with four games all in New York state and its little Garden State suburb. Tonight is the first of a back-to-back, with New Jersey tomorrow night followed by the Short Island Smurfs on Sunday.
Tavares, on playing, via the Post:
"I’m ready to get going," Tavares said. "It’s been a little sore, but I had the day off, take care of it, good maintenance, stay on the top of it. So I feel good to play and feel I can contribute and play at the level I need to play at."
That article also had Jack Capuano confirming that Kevin Poulin will get his third consecutive start, for the between-the-lines reasons you well know (Evgeni Nabokov has struggled even by his late-30s standards, Poulin has looked fine or at least "battle" ready).
The same quotes and a little more are on the official site's morning skate notes, with Capuano adding this about Poulin:
"I’ve always said (Poulin) has a little swagger and attitude about him and I think you have to have that when you’re the last line of defense. The fact is he’s got a few starts and he has to realize it’s deserved, but it’s up to him now to continue to play well."
Certainly this is in part influenced by two sets of back-to-backs, but with tonight's start that will be six starts for Poulin in the last 10 games. That's not a "changing of the guard," but it is a sign the Isles are serious about using two goaltenders for the first time since late in 2011-12.
Kings: No Quick, No Frosted Tips
Not got enough chrom-ification from the outdoor game logos? The Royal Half did that treatment to the Fishsticks, the Kings Burger King, and even the oft-forgotten original concept for the Ottawa Senators expansion team.
For what's doing with the Kings -- outside of key injuries to Jonathan Quick (whose prognosis is "weeks") and Jeff Carter -- check the Jewels From The Crown digestion of their last game, a frustrating shootout loss in Buffalo:
As has been the case far too often this season, the Kings played more than well enough to win the game. However, they made some rather egregious errors in their d-zone coverage and didn't do enough offensively. While they controlled scoring chances handily overall, their 5v5 play was lackluster. Ultimately, they got bested by a pretty mediocre defense.
Without Quick, the Kings lean on Bartleby the Scrivener, Ben Scrivens. Don't know if Darryl Sutter is a Herman Melville fan, but he sounds like a fan of Scrivens:
We’re obviously confident in him. We haven’t seen him play that much. His [first] start on the road this year was a shutout in Florida, and he’s been in [five] times and has played really well for us off the bench.
But Sutter's best line from that scrum is when he was asked about Coliseum icons in the rafters:
They got six of ‘em, so out of respect I look at ‘em.
The post at LA Kings Insider says "banners of Duane and Brent Sutter hanging at the Coliseum," but the six retired number banners aren't for his brothers, though they contributed heavily to the important banners.
Well, either way, captures the spirit of the thing.
Leave your First Islanders Goal picks for this game over here.