New York Islanders vs. Montreal Canadiens Preview: Ryan Strome lines and such

Strike a pose. - Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports

Number 18 in your programs and number "latest resort" in your desperate hopes for something new...Ryan Strome.

Tonight, with the Islanders struggling mightily, those home partisans in the stands or watching at home will get to enjoy an invasion of visitor fans -- visiting once again during awful winter weather -- who will take advantage of the NHL's near-polar opposites in terms of supply and demand.

But that shouldn't tarnish the rare opportunity to see a promising player's NHL debut. Enjoy.

Nyi-landthin_medium Mon-slim_medium
Canadiens (19-11-3) @ Islanders (9-19-5)
Nassau [gloriously unsponsored] Veterans Mem Coliseum
7 p.m. EST | MSG+ | WRHU/WRCN
Voice of the Hab: Eyes on the Prize

The big news for the Islanders is actually twofold: Ryan Strome plays in his first NHL game -- the last top pick in his 2011 class to do so -- and Evgeni Nabokov returns to the crease. Normally Nabokov in goal at age 38 would be nothing to shout about, but his replacements have proven just how difficult the position is at the NHL level: Not only do you have to make really good saves, you have to make them consistently.

Strome on Strome:

I feel like the carrot’s been dangling in front of me for a little while now, especially this last week. I’m eager to get out here and get to puck drop.

Capuano on Strome:

He's earned this opportunities, he’s here to help us win. He’s going to make some mistakes, but it’s [about] the shift after. We want him to go out and not change too much about his game. We’ll continue to teach our young guys how to play away from the puck, and how they need to play, but he’s got some great offensive instincts.

Montreal has lost two in a row -- they've not lost three consecutive in regulation all season, the lovely bastards -- so Meme #23 has been pulled off the lexicon shelf: They "need to find an identity." (Yes, in divisions not named "Metropolitan," 19-11 is cause for panic.)

Which is funny, since the Hockey club from Montreal protects its nickname identity with Stalinesque dedication.

Arthur Staple had these lines from the morning skate, which -- honestly now, Peter Regin as a fourth-line center is not bad:

Vanek-Tavares-Okposo
Grabner-Nielsen-Bailey
Nelson-Strome-Clutterbuck
Martin-Regin-McDonald/Boulton

Frans NIelsen and MIchael Grabner have been reunited a bit more lately, but they'll still need a pulse from Josh Bailey. Meanwhile, Strome gets to remain at center while getting some help from a fellow rookie and Cal Clutterbuck. Could be fun.

Nabokov is in goal.

Expected Canadiens according to Hockey Inside/Out:

Gionta-Plekanec-Galchenyuk
Pacioretty-Road to Dushanbe-Brière
Gallagher-Eller-Bournival
Prust-White-Moen

Carey Price will get the start. Thank Bossy the Canadiens also look likely to dress Douglas Murray. Tee hee.

Meanwhile, Person of Sterling Character Danny Briere allegedly wants out of Montreal already. Tee hee, squared.

FIG Picks

Leave your First Islanders Goal picks over yonder, won't you? There were no winners last time because none of you appreciate the mysterious and lethally efficient brilliance of Eric Boulton.

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