The Islanders complete what has been a hapless homestand so far when they meet the Florida Panthers today at 5 p.m. Thanks in part to the Southeast leaders hardly pulling away from the pack, the Islanders remain just three points out of eighth in the East ... but if they lose in regulation tonight, they'll also be just three points above 15th-place Florida.
Meanwhile, Buffalo and Washington have each caught them during this three-game home losing streak.
Interesting stuff on the second line in Arthur Staple's Newsday update yesterday:
"You do your job defensively and that gives you confidence even when you don't score for a game or two."
Nielsen is tied for fourth on the Islanders with 16 points, and that is basically what he is: A point every-other-game player, a No. 3 center who's been jammed into a No. 2 slot at times without a true second scoring center on the squad.
"I think that's the missing piece in our lineup," Nielsen said with his usual candor. "Hopefully [Ryan] Strome can be that guy next season."
Oh Frans. You lack ambition! (Say that in an Arnold voice.)
More on that in the article, as well as Evgeni Nabokov on the Isles goaltending. But if the Islanders want Nielsen to center Kyle Okposo and Josh Bailey in more of a defensive role (call it your traditional third or whatever), they're going to have to find some soft minutes for some young players if they hope Ryan Strome and other promoted kids can fill a secondary role next season.
- In Newark yesterday, the Panthers lost to the Devils in regulation. Ilya Kovalchuk left the game with a shoulder injury.
- Bridgeport erased a 3-0 deficit but lost in a shootout while missing Nino Niederreiter (upper body, sounds like shoulder) and Rick DiPietro (sick). Kenny Reiter handled crease duties. Matt Donovan scored twice, Brock Nelson once. Reiter has a .929 save percentage over his last six but is 0-4-2, and the Sound Tigers tied a franchise futility record by going 0-for-10 on the powerplay.
- Notre Dame beat Ohio State yesterday, so they play in the CCHA finals today (2 p.m. EDT) and almost certainly will make the NCAA tourney. That extends Anders Lee and Robbie Russo's season considerably.
- It's Reinhart vs. Reinhart as the WHL playoffs are underway. Griffin's Edmonton blasted Kootenay 9-0 in Game 1 Friday. Game 2 is this afternoon.
- Not that I would ever sign Nate Thompson for four years, but remember when a segment of Isles fans piled on him nightly because the fourth-line center had the nerve to not score? The Lightning extended the waiver claim for, yes, four years and $6.4 million(!).
- FS Detroit fires Larry Murphy. More on that here.
- This is old (the post I mean; obviously the show is), but wow it looks even older than I remember: Hogans and hockey.
- The Penguins think they did souped-up analytics when trading for James Neal. I just think they new Goligoski wasn't as good as Dallas thought.
- Following Chris's post yesterday ... is Brooklyn messing with the Isles at home (remember, attendance isn't down)? Or have they just sucked at home in this short season?
Leave your First Islanders Goal picks for tonight's game (a 5 p.m. start) in this thread.
More to come on tonight's game later today.