The Islanders finish their four-game string in Newark tonight, with another excellent chance to add points to their playoff push against a team that stands in their way. The Devils are without Ilya Kovalchuk and are coming off two consecutive games where they blew leads late.
In the playoff chase, there was a three-point game last night, but it could have been worse: Washington blew a lead in the final minute, allowing Philadelphia to win in OT. That kept the Caps one point behind the Islanders, while the Flyers pulled to within two.
But we'll have more on tonight's game and implications later. First, some morning links and bits that are heavily focused on prospects you are hoping to see in orange and blue very soon:
In Newsday, Staple has the Isles' mindset heading into this game, while also updating his tracking of prospects due to sign contracts soon:
Ryan Strome, the Islanders' 2011 first-round pick, was expected to report to Bridgeport Monday, according to a source. [...] the Islanders are hoping to have the 19-year-old center playing for the Sound Tigers for the remainder of their season . . . General manager Garth Snow and the adviser for Anders Lee, the team's 2009 sixth-round pick, are negotiating to sign Lee to a contract [...] Lee, 22, almost certainly will join the Islanders immediately upon signing.
The third prospect being closely tracked right now (and expected to sign) is Andrey Pedan of the Guelph Storm. The beatwriter in Guelph provided one more strong suggestion that Pedan is Bridgeport-bound. (h/t IPB). Bet on that being one of those ATO + ELCs, with the three-year ELC triggering in 2013-14.
Of course, there could very well be announcements on one or all three of these players by the time you read this. It's that time of year.
Speaking of the trade deadline time of year, as you no doubt know Lubomir Visnovsky is off the trade market and signed for two more years with the Isles. Visnovsky spoke with Staple (who says an extension is still being pursued with Mark Streit) about why Lubo signed, and how he wanted to dispel myths about his motives this year:
"I want to show everybody that I'm very happy here, that the Isles are a good team, a playoff team," he said. "I have a great team, great teammates and I think I can help this team."
He also spoke of what it meant to him to be allowed to return to Slovakia briefly after his friend's son died in a helicopter crash.
And one more "that time of year" note: In Bridgeport the playoff picture has gone from longshot to bleak to in need of a miracle. After a nice run, Rick DiPietro has hit a rough patch along with the whole team. Now, all that may be left is to debut Strome, Pedan and prepare for next year.
Leave your First Islanders Goal picks for tonight's game in this thread. The standings are up to date, and yes, someone won blood money for picking "shutout" last game.