New York Islanders vs Detroit Red Wings Preview & Bits: Super Coach Fighter II Turbo

Sorry, Cappy. I had to use that picture.

Picture it: Uniondale, 2012...

A young peasant NHL team, with no hope for the playoffs, faces down one of the best teams in the Western Conference. No one gives the peasant team a chance, including the mascot, who called out sick with a stomach virus that day.

Well, the game starts and whattaya know: the peasant team is winning 5-1. No one could believe it. They say you could hear the mascot outside banging on the Coliseum doors trying to get back in.

Then it happened. The peasant coach, a big bacciagalup, calls a time out with a few seconds left. Well, that's like slapping a whole team in the face! The other team goes crazy. Their players are fuming and barking like dogs and their coach is clapping sarcastically and giving the bacciagalup the malocchio. You know, the old "evil eye." Even the TV guys are calling the peasant coach a bacciagalup even though they don't know what that even means.

But it was too late. The peasant team won and the big, bad All Star team lost fair and square. And two valuable lessons were learned that day, Pussycat: One, when you're Goliath, David will always be gunning for you and two, a ticked off Mike Babcock is hilarious.

Det-slim_medium Nyi-thinblade_medium
Red Wings (9-5-6, 3rd/Atlantic) @ Islanders (7-10-3, 6th/Metro)
7 p.m. | MSG+2 | Audio: NHL - WRHU
Nassau [gloriously unsponsored] Veterans Mem. Coliseum
Transplantin': Winging it in Motown

FIG picks for tonight's game can be filed here.

Much has changed since the last time the Islanders and Red Wings played each other, a.k.a. the infamous "Time Out in the Blow Out." The Red Wings are now part of the lowly, sad Eastern Conference along with the Islanders who, thank Bossy, have much fewer roster spots taken up by cap mules, stop gaps and the generally inexperienced. One thing that hasn't changed is that the Red Wings are still good and the Islanders are still looking up at them.

Red Wings: Speed Bumps

At the start of the season, Detroit looked like a big fish in a small pond after making the crossover to the more time zone friendly conference. But the Red Wings's hot start has cooled off considerably. Although sitting third in the Atlantic, they're currently at a surprising -5 goal differential.

Playing last night at home, the Red Wings blew a 3-1 lead against Washington before losing in a shootout. Why, they even gave up a first career goal - to Capitals rookie Michael Latta. Imagine! The Wings haven't won at Joe Louis Arena since Oct. 15, a span of seven games. The good news for Detroit is that tonight's game is on Long Island, and the Red Wings are 6-3-0 on the road this season.

Roster-wise, they'll be without Daniel Alfredsson, who is out indefinitely with a groin injury announced at game time. Alfredsson's absence meant the Red Wings played only 17 skaters on Friday night.

(Note: WIIM's preview says Alfredsson could still play tonight.)

Two other veterans - Patrick Eaves and Jordin Tootoo - were waived and sent to AHL Grand Rapids. Defenseman Jonathan Ericsson returned to the line against the Caps after missing time with a shoulder injury.

Islanders: Rebounding

Yesterday was quiet around here, probably because no one wanted to talk about the Islanders' Thursday Night frightfest against Los Angeles. In short, the Islanders survived the first period, dominated the second, fell apart in the third and let two points against a quality opponent slip away. A new opportunity against a new quality opponent (on the second of a back-to-back) awaits them tonight.

In his Isles Files on Friday, Newsday's Arthur Staple said he expected Kevin Poulin to get a fourth straight start in goal. He played very well for two periods on Thursday before a mistake and two deflections cost him a shutout.

Thomas Vanek will make his return after missing three games with an "upper body" injury sustained a week ago in Columbus. We'll assume he takes his expected place next to Iron Man John Tavares on the top line, which would bump Brock Nelson out of the place he's looked very comfortable in over the last two games. Lubomir Visnovsky and Brian Strait remain out, in case you needed reminding.

Update 1: forget everything I wrote (except the funny parts).

So who sits? Possibly Peter Regin, he of the pretty good fancy stats and light box cars. But a couple of guys ahead of him on the depth chart need to get it in gear in a big way, says Staple:

[Michael] Grabner has no goals in 19 straight and no points in 10. [Josh] Bailey has no points in 10, and astonishingly, recorded his first shot on goal in six games on Thursday.

In a totally objective and not at all gloating way, we'll report that the Islanders are 5-0-1 against Detroit since Lockout II ended in 2005.

Update 2: Oh. And they're wearing the black jerseys tonight. So it might be a good time to stay off Twitter.

Bits From Around the NHL:

  • Last night's NHL scores. The Leafs lost to the Sabres in Ted Nolan's re-debut, and the Jets won their third game in a row via the shootout, this time topping Philly.
  • Marian Gaborik will miss 4-6 weeks with a knee injury. It was already looking like he wouldn't be back in Columbus next season, and this more or less seals the deal. Could be a bargain rental at the end of the year. [ESPN]
  • Yesterday in Edmonton Oilers news: They're not hard to play against [Backhand Shelf] and they may need to trade one of the identified core to get that way. [Copper and Blue]
  • Another year, another fire sale for the Panthers. [Puck Daddy]
  • Also at PD, Greg Wyshynski says trading Tyler Seguin was both a great move and a dumb move. [PD]
  • The Winnipeg Jets have a Pavelic Problem. [Tyler Dellow at Sportsnet]
  • Ilya Bryzgalov's first game in AHL for Oklahoma City: five goals on 24 shots in a 5-4 loss to Abbotsford. [SBN]
  • Mike Smith: Ornery Netminder. [SBN]
  • But if you're thinking of taking a run at him in a game, better watch this video from the Player Safety Department first. [NHL]
  • Ted Nolan thought Pat LaFontaine was calling to offer him Broadway tickets. Nope. [Yahoo!]
  • But how much difference can a coach really make? [NHL Numbers]

What do you think, Coach Babcock?




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