New York Islanders vs. Chicago Blackhawks Preview: Snubs battle. Update: Matt Donovan recalled

Snub Brothers: If this were European ice, Okposo wouldn't have even gotten to the boards. - Jonathan Daniel

Don't act like this is about anything other than Team USA.

Sure, tonight's snow-pocalyptic contest between the New York Islanders and the Chicago Blackhawks may be a meeting between one of the best and worst records in the league, but we all know what this battle is really about: Which recently snubbed American will come out with a Statement Game that fills the proper narratives for media and Twitter pundits alike.

We refer of course to Isles winger Kyle Okposo, deemed unfit for bigger Euro ice (despite excelling on such ice at the University of Minnesota and in past World Championships), and Hawks winger Brandon Saad, deemed at age 21 to be unready because "it's just not his time."

Meanwhile, Brooks Orpik lives.

Anyway, if at no point in tonight's game is there cause for @AngryFAN1 to tweet with smug authority, "Gr8 play by [Saad/Okopso]. Gess Team USA had no use for THAT," then the terrorists, which is to say Team Russia, have already won.

(However, at least then @AngryH8ter1 could say, "Guess USA made the rite call.")



Lineup Notes

Corey Crawford returns from injury to start for the Hawks. This deprives Isles fans of not only a great name in Antti Raanta, but also a goalie adjudged to be "the best goalie, the regular season MVP and the playoff MVP in a top professional league a year ago." Naturally he began the season behind Nikolai Khabibulin on the Hawks' depth chart.

The Isles will dress the same lineup as their recent comeback win over the Bruins. Aaron Ness has been returned to Bridgeport, with Matt Donovan expected to take his spot on the Bridgeport ferry. [Update: Indeed, Donovan is officially on his way up.]

Snow-Pocalypse Notes

In recognition of tonight's racist opponent inclement weather, the Islanders have announced:

If you’ve already purchased tickets and don’t feel comfortable driving to the game, you’ll be able to exchange your ticket(s) at the Nassau Coliseum Box Office for a future weekday game at Nassau Coliseum this season, starting Saturday, Jan. 4. As an added benefit for fans who attend tonight’s game, you can also exchange your used ticket voucher under the same policy.

Come for the Hawks, stay for the shelter and another suitable weekday opponent!

Preview Quotes

So Okposo misses the chance to go to the Olympics in Sochi, but Jack Capuano says he'll be alright:

"Just knowing the way he is, he’s going to continue to battle hard."

Joel Quenneville's "respectful" way of saying "we better feast on their defense and goaltending":

"They’ve been on a little bit of a roll here, so let’s make sure we’re respectful," Quenneville said. "They have some offensive guys, they can make plays…We just want to make sure that we make them play some defense and be respectful. They can score when they get some speed."

FIG Picks

First Islanders Goal picks for tonight go here. Because we said so.

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