New York Islanders (7-9-2) at New Jersey Devils (9-7-2)
7 p.m. EST | [insurance of some sort] Center | MSG+2 (Isles), MSG+ (Devils)
When the Islanders revisit "the Rock," much should be different from their season-opening encounter. The Islanders are on a mini-roll, having steadily, increasingly adapted Scott Gordon's system in recent games. If this trend continues, the Devils and their fans shouldn't recognize their orange-and-blue opponents. As John of In Lou We Trust said after taking a look at my recent attempt to capture Gordon's style:
Dominik calls it overspeed; I think Ludicrious Speed would be better. But seriously, it sounds a lot different from what the Islanders did on opening night. And I'd have to hope the Devils, especially the defensemen in their own zone with the puck, will be ready to make good decisions a lot quicker.
That's about right. Though opening night was close on the scoreboard, the Isles rarely threatened in the 2-1 loss. A month later, after defeating the basement-dwelling Panthers last night, New Jersey should be preparing for a different -- and more cohesive -- look from the Islanders. But that's not all that's different:
|2008 - Joey MacDonald||15||895||7||6||2||1||40||2.68||471||431||.915||0|
|2008 - Scott Clemmensen||5||263||2||2||0||1||11||2.51||125||114||.912||0|
"I have played games in this league before, obviously, but they have been spread out and kind of sporadic. When you play only once in a while, you try to do everything so perfectly. You squeeze the stick a little. I know I have an opportunity and I want to go for it. ... I feel comfortable out there. The more [you] play, the more confident you are. You anticipate better. You read plays better, the instinct, everything. Obviously, everything is together a little more when you are playing more."
Sound familiar? That's Scott Clemmensen, after taking the win in his 33rd career NHL game last night. The 31-year-old, who first appeared for the Devils in 2002, has lived a very Joey MacDonald-like existence: sitting in the AHL behind a Hall of Famer. But Clemmensen has started the last three games and looks to be wresting the Brodeur's Shoes job from Kevin Weekes. Still, the Devils also have a busy schedule ahead, so Clemmensen might not get the nod against the Islanders.
Meanwhile, despite their own busy schedule, the Islanders sound like MacDonald is their guy. With his next two starts MacDonald, 28, will have officially doubled his career NHL games total this season. He'll increase it to 33 games played with his ninth consecutive start tonight. He has played so well since Rick DiPietro was officially shelved that the Islanders swapped his backups, calling up U. of Denver product Peter Mannino so that Yann Danis can go back and get some work at Bridgeport.
No matter who the Devils put out there tonight, it's a battle of the backups to the fallen franchise keeper tonight. May the youngest man win.