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Islanders Gameday: Take #2 in Montreal

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[Updated 12 noon with additional lineup info and thought fodder at the end.]

If the Islanders play like they did two nights ago against one of the league's best teams, the Canadiens could be ripe for the taking. The Habs are hot, of course -- they've won three straight after losing five straight. But they had to come back to beat the Rangers Saturday (thank you, but next time in regulation time please), and now brimming with confidence, they just might be looking ahead to a road trip with more daunting opponents Pittsburgh and Chicago this week. Plus a Halloween HNIC Saturday involving the Leafs -- who matter just a tad bit more to the Habs than the Islanders.

And, if we may be so bold, tonight the Canadiens ought to see a completely different opponent than the one they drubbed Thursday in a 5-1 cakewalk. Thus concludes the psycho-rationalizing section of today's game preview.

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New York Islanders (1-4-4, 5th/Atl) at Montreal Canadiens (5-5-0, 4th/NE)

7:30 p.m. | Le [telefonica-like substance] Centre | MSG+, RDS, radio

Coverage of 9 more pts. than the Leafs: Eyes on the Prize | Habs Inside/Out | Four Habs Fans

I'm not going to dwell on the blown third-period lead thing, because Saturday's OT loss to the Caps was a different case. But Scott Gordon's quote on the topic was amusing, in a managed expectations sort of way:

"We certainly aren't a dynamic offensive team," coach Scott Gordon said. "It's probably going to happen to us more than we like. It has happened more than we liked. We're not happy about it."

The truth hurts.

  • Meanwhile, one lineup definitive: Doug Weight will sit out his third consecutive game with flu-like symptoms. Despite my disgust after the Habs game, I prefer this move; I'm glad they're apparently not spreading a virus around the room.
  • In goal, what do you say? It's Martin Biron's turn, dontchaknow. Still awaiting a performance by either of the platooners that makes a compelling statement for consecutive starts. (At the other end, it's Halak.)
  • Despite their recent outburst of goals (five against each NY team), the Habs are still 22nd in goals per game at 2.60. Defensively, they've allowed 3.0 per game -- which ranks tied for 15th. Their ratio of 5-on-5 GF/GA at this early juncture is 0.75 -- not pretty by any means (24th), but still well above the Isles (0.50 for 27th).

More later today, but that'll do for a start to the day's hemming and hawing over what on earth to expect from this young, evolving team.

Update: Some more fun and fodder...

An Inconvenient Streak: With three points in his last three games, Andy Sutton is now fourth on the team in scoring, tied with Mark Streit. Fodder for his supporters, absurdly small sample for his detractors.

Speaking of Streit: Both he and Radek Martinek had weak games in Montreal. Marti bounced back in a big way against Washington, though, netting the goal and actually skating more minutes than Streit (24:56 vs. 22:30), a rarity in a game when Streit didn't lose any time to penalties.

No Platoon in Montreal: Jaroslav Halak gets his fourth consecutive start tonight.

Tambellini on the PP? That was the morning skate lineup, where Freddy Meyer is also still on the outside.

Are We Rebuilding or Are We Dancer? Larry "axes to grind everywhere" Brooks's column about this season: thoughts? I actually thought it was fair -- more fair than Chris Botta's mini-vent linking to and expanding on it. Chris vents about some things that I either have not seen or have not had passed on through PR channels. For example, I haven't heard the team continue to discredit last year's goalie tandem -- not since the beginning of the season -- but regardless, those goalies were (and are) sub-par. And more is and should be expected of the current underperforming tandem.

Standings-Gazing: Finally, just nine games in, the Atlantic Standings don't look so hot. But boy, did you expect it would be Philadelphia who's sitting in fourth? (I know, it's early, and the Rangers and Pens have each played two more games. Still.):

Atlantic Standings

Pittsburgh 11 9 2 0 18
New York Rangers 11 7 3 1 15
New Jersey 9 6 3 0 12
Philadelphia 9 5 3 1 11
New York Islanders 9 1 4 4 6

(updated 10.26.2009 at 9:09 AM EDT)