New York Islanders vs. Boston Bruins Preview: Lubomir Visnovsky returns

"What are the odds we do it a third time?" - Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

The Isles need two points, because they always need two points. Here's a team that they've already took them from twice.

No man is an island, no player is the whole team (except John Tavares), et cetera, but if there was one player upon whose presence the 2012-13 New York Islanders season turned, it was Lubomir Visnovsky.

The Slovak defenseman is a puck-mover, a pressure reliever, and a rink stirrer for the power play. The Isles have been without him and his 22+ minutes per night since early in their eighth game of this season, a 4-3 loss to the Carolina Hurricanes all the way back on Oct. 19.

Tonight, at long last, he returns.

Bruins (32-15-3, 1st/Atlantic) @ Islanders (21-25-8, 8th/Metro)
Nassau [gloriously unsponsored] Veterans Memorial Coliseum
7 p.m. | MSG+ |
WRHU/WRCN
Soup of the opposition: Stanley Cup of Chowder

Also returning from IR, though only backing up Kevin Poulin tonight, is Evgeni Nabokov. He's not quite the key cog that Visnovsky is ... unless you go comparing his modest stats to the don't-look-now stats of those who have replaced him this season.

The return of both of these Slavs means Anders Nilsson and Matt Donovan have been returned to AHL Bridgeport. Neither move is a surprise -- for Donovan, with depth and brief injury relief comes decisions -- as Calvin de Haan has reclaimed his spot above Donovan in the pecking order and Radek Martinek remains the "unscratch in case of famine" option.

Travis Hamonic is still out but should be the next to return. That trajectory will impact the two aforementioned prospects as well as, perhaps, the fate of his long-time running mate Andrew MacDonald as the trade deadline nears.

The Isles have used and used and overused MacDonald this year, but Visnovsky's return should at least alleviate the minutes MacDonald has been getting on the power play.

Here's Jack Capuano on the return of Vis':

He's been skating now for a long time, he’s been [in] contact now for at least a week or more, so he's ready to go.  Obviously it's about the pace of the game and the big bodies Boston has. He's going to see right away, but there's no better time for him to get back in there now.  He's been waiting he's been working hard and no matter who he played against it's going to be a little bit of a test for him but he's a veteran guy and we'll get him right in there.

Bruins

Across the way, it looks like Chad Johnson may get the start for Boston.

the Bruins are coming off a 6-1 trouncing of the Flyers -- always a delight to see -- and have Dougie Hamilton back in the lineup. If you haven't seen them lately, they've taken Zdeno Chara's cannon off the power play point and instead put him square in front of the opposing goalie as a screen and generally scary person.

Both teams are 6-3-1 in their last 10 ... and yet a good 17 points apart in their last 50 or so. In fact, the Bruins have played four fewer games than the Islanders.

Regardless, don't look now but ... the Isles have won both previous meetings -- in regulation -- and with a win tonight would sweep a season series against Boston for the first time since 2005-06. Jinx. In fact, of the two wins, the one where they didn't allow three goals(!) was actually the one Poulin played.

Parenteau Scratched, on the Block?

Meanwhile, just for the hell of it, in ex-Isles non-news news:

Why you messin' with PAP?

No seriously, WHY YOU MESSIN' WITH PAP?!

Oh. Oh maybe this is why:

FIG Picks

Leave your First Islanders Goal picks for tonight's meeting here. And be glad it's indoors.

Here is the updated leaderboard, with mrs. mike in mi getting a big win last game to exert domestic pressure on her lesser half:

37 - martylnd
24 - zack779
22 - DoctorOsty
18 - mike in mi
18 - Torgo
18 - Ukiddinme
17 - Isle in Dixie
16 - Dan VA
16 - tm
15 - hockeyp6
14 - skeeterman
14 - TheMarvelousStingRay

(The rest of the scoreboard is in that link as well.)

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