It wasn't so long ago that we were wondering if the New York Islanders would ever win three consecutive games this season.
Now that there is a palpable playoff buzz around the team, they have still only managed that feat once. They get their ninth opportunity to do it tonight in Boston, which would be a huge boost to banking points before their season-ending road trip.
The Bruins are in parts happy and miffed today. They won last night in New Jersey to move back into first in the Northeast, but after taking a 4-0 lead they tried to cough it up, feeding some concerns about their game as they head to the playoffs. They are indeed heading to the playoffs; in fact, if the season ended today (can a hypothetical really be a "fact"?), these two teams would meet in the first round.
Tonight the Islanders just hope to catch them tired on the second half of a back-to-back. The Bruins have been a great possession team this season, and that combined with their physical play has made the two previous matches with the Islanders fairly lopsided.
But the Islanders have been much better lately in the possession and the discipline departments. They should make a game of this.
- Already without Patrice Bergeron, the B's lost Brad Marchand last night on a Anton Volchenkov elbow to the head. Clear penalty and worth a major, but not high speed -- so my honest first impression was that Marchand might be milking it. (Not that he's ever done that, no.) Regardless, Marchand left and did not come back, so
shame on mefunny how reputations linger.
- The five-minute powerplay that followed actually blew up on the Bruins, as they allowed a shorthanded goal that narrowed the gap to 4-2. (It was a messy game overall, with multiple shorties and shorthanded opportunities.)
- The off-ice news for the Bruins was the reported signing of Swedish vet Carl Soderberg, a 2004 Blues draft pick who never made the jump. Soderberg's rights were actually flipped in 2007 for goaltender Hannu Toivonen (because I only follow teams that run through goalies like tissue). Anyway, Soderberg's transfer still needs Swedish federation approval, something that looked still up in the air last night.
- Assuming Soderberg's transfer goes through, he could really help them if he adapts quickly. But that's not the Isles' concern now. He's not in the lineup tonight.
- The Bruins played Anton Khudobin last night, meaaniing Tuukka Rask should go tonight. You know, because teams always save their starters to face the Isles.
- In the previous two meetings, these two teams are a combined 0-13 on the powerplay.
- Good feelings from 7-1-1 aside, the Isles know this is a real test.
- USA Today does the "Islanders in playoff hunt" thing.
- Um...a focus group (h/t edavidmorris) gauging Isles fans' feelings about an identity change in Brooklyn?
- This is old but overlooked (h/t notaxation): A little about Brent Johnson since his fight with Rick DiPietro.
- These stories are increasingly common, but the one-day college backup the Canucks signed is a good one.
- NEW: Jimmy Howard is close to an extension with Detroit.
Community Note: Spano Film
Anyone planning to catch the Spano film at Tribeca a week from Friday? Check this FanShot and talk.
Leave your First Islanders Goal picks for tonight in this thread.