Islanders Gameday Bits: Frans on Frans; Bridgeport; Prospect Playoffs

Paul Bereswill

The Islanders prepare to finish their homestand. Frans Nielsen looks forward to Ryan Strome.

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.

Elsewhere:

FIG Picks

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.

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