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Islanders Gameday: Surely Frans & Tamby will stop the Hurricanes

If NHL hockey followed the logic applied to college football*, we'd all have known last spring that there was no way the Devils would get by the Hurricanes in the playoffs.

Cause, you know: As last season wound down, the Isles trounced the Devils 4-0 and 7-3, yet were clinically destroyed by the Hurricanes 6-2, 5-4 and {gulp} 9-0. Therefore, we can only conclude the Canes were way better than the Devils 'n stuff. Fortunately in hockey, everybody plays each other, and player compensation is real and published. Also: Slightly less worship of teenagers.

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Carolina Hurricanes (2-4-1, 4th/SE) at New York Islanders (0-3-3, 5th/Atl)

7 p.m. | Nassau [gloriously unsponsored] Veterans Mem. Coliseum | MSG+

Storm chasers: Canes Country

So yeah, last year's matchups didn't go so well. Four games, four losses. I'd point out that the Hurricanes are off to a disappointing start this month, but last year it didn't really matter what they were up to -- they were always ready to ravage the Islanders.

Worse, Cory at Canes Country put on his blogging hat and found that the current road trip the Canes are on -- they have to vacate this time each year for the state fair -- usually bodes well for them, no matter how they start.

But the big thing to watch for tonight is the return of Frans Nielsen and Kyle Okposo's subsequent move to his line, initially with Sean Bergenheim. That move breaks up the point-per-game Matt Moulson/John Tavares/Okposo line, and Doug Weight initially moves in Okposo's place. The reason? The eternal search for "secondary scoring," of course.

But wait, that's not all. Order now, and get two more shakeups at no extra charge...

Scott Gordon has heard your plea and it looks like Jon Sim will sit. Bigger yet, Phase 1 of the Rob Schremp Hockey experiment has concluded. It appears Jeff Tambellini will join Nielsen in returning to the lineup, so Schremp will get his first scratch since the home opener. Schremp's tally so far:

GP G A P +/- PIM Hits TOI PPtoi FO% SOG Sh%
2009 - Rob Schremp 5 0 1 1 -2 4 1 14:17 2:14 53.6 11 0.0

You have to admit he's had a chance to leave an impression. And like Tambellini, he's a work in progress.

I'm fine with all of this. Losing streaks call for tinkering, and Nielsen's return -- which I've longed for to an irrational degree -- creates an excuse to alter some things. Tambellini should return to the lineup hungry, not that he didn't appear hungry in his lone glimpse of action this season.

Gordon says Bergenheim-Nielsen-Okposo was his original plan before Nielsen got injured. If so, so be it. Let the coach have his original plan. I'm sure the Moulson-Tavares-Okposo magic will at least still be there for the powerplay, which is how they get more than half their points anyway.

In goal, the existing platoon would indicate it's Dwayne Roloson's turn. Good thing neither Andrew Ladd nor Marc-Andre Bergeron is still around to collaborate to take out Roloson's knee.

Before a college football disclaimer, some juicy links:

Personally, I think they need a song that works, but it doesn't need to be Glitter. We've been discussing this evergreen topic here recently, but: I don't like singalongs, and I don't need a chant at the end. I just want to hear the horn and the crowd's roar, perhaps enhanced by a driving beat. I've never been inclined to say "You suck" after my own team just did something good, but then again, Mrs. Lighthouse tells me I was born a 52-year-old. So there's that.

Random updates today, followed by the game thread tonight. Let's go Islanders. Avenge the April Implosion.

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*I don't actually follow college football. I just overhear people complain about its standings a lot. Apparently the super-secret formula they developed to improve rankings only bugs people further. It's kind of funny, actually -- particularly when at the end of the season, the penultimate matchups (like the Bowl or something) still come down to money and TV rights. I mean, imagine if the Oilers and Hurricanes weren't allowed to meet for the 2006 Stanley Cup because no network would touch it and some almost equal team had more crazed alumni in big media markets?

I'm sorry, I meant: "In the NCAA ... the educational experience of the student-athlete is paramount." Money is an afterthought, I assure you.

P.S. The 18-22 year-olds at my alma mater are far better at athletic excellence than the 18-22 year-olds at your alma mater, and I am totally ready to fight you or do a keg stand (or both) to prove it.