You know why I think the Islanders could snap out of their little funk tonight? Because the Lightning just snapped a one-win-in-11-games slump (and six-game losing streak) by winning 6-3 Friday over the slumping Blues ... who promptly went to Vancouver and eased by the Canucks (winners of 4 in 5) 3-1. You know: "Any given Sunday" and all that.
I swear, I don't know why I bother guessing because you never know what's going to happen in this league anymore. Somebody will show up, somebody will score, some goalie will stand on his head. Maybe the Islanders' special teams will even wake up.
Tampa Bay Lightning (12-14-9, t-11th) at New York Islanders (13-16-7, t-11th)
7 p.m. EST | Nassau [gloriously unsponsored] Coliseum | MSG+2, radio
Benjamin Franklin wannabes: Raw Charge
There was some scuttlebutt urging the Islanders, so thin on defense, to claim Lukas Krajicek and his $1.475 million from Tampa Bay. The Bolts want to be rid of Krajicek so bad, they were hoping teams would take him for free -- without them having to take "an asset" (read: dead weight) in return. To hear coach Rick Tocchet tell it, Krajicek's defensive methods had become ... unsound: "The thing is, when you're not scoring goals, you can't be at the scene of the crime too many times," Tocchet said.
I am in favor of tinkering to make strides -- as Cliff Fletcher has done in Minnesota -- I'm just not sensing that taking on the Bolts' Krajicek problem is the way to go. He strikes me as more (or even less) of what the Isles already have.
The Lightning are saying all the right things about this being a big game, a "dig-deep game" to help salvage the end of their six-game road trip. The Islanders are talking about the importance of getting points from this home stand and improving their special teams -- but the blizzard canceled practice yesterday, so there hasn't been much time to address the flaws on either side.
The Islanders will go with Dwayne Roloson. The Lightning might be wise to go back to Mike Smith, who got that impressive 4-0 shutout -- seems like we've seen a lot of good goaltending altely, no? -- over the Isles 16 days ago.
Lines, Injuries, and Avoiding Injuries
Katie Strang tweeted that the lines appear the same, so I'm not expecting any changes from the lineup that fired 40 shots at Jaroslav Halak without netting one of them. Strang also reports Tim Jackman is close, Sean Bergenheim skated for the first time this a.m., and Scott Gordon knows Doug Weight, out for five weeks, is "not even close."
If both teams play to their talent level: Advantage Lightning. If both teams play to their recent form: Who really knows anymore? I just hope the Isles keep their heads up for Mattias Ohlund, who has delivered some open-ice beauties this year, including to Phil Kessel and countryman Henrik Zetterberg.
Last meeting was a rather tame first NHL meeting between 2009 top picks John Tavares and Victor Hedman, though Hedman did net his 1st NHL goal. Tonight? Without a point in four games, Tavares is certainly due.
Prediction: An Islander scores this time. Maybe they remember that winning at home is good for fan relations.