What's this? An inter-conference rematch -- in today's NHL? So it goes. To cut the quips off at the pass here ... the NHL must've seen fit to use up these "extra" games in the schedule by pairing up two teams that, uh, don't make money. There, that's done.
Phoenix Coyotes (28-32-5, 25th) at New York Islanders (21-37-7, 30th)
3 p.m. E-Daylight-T | Nassau [gloriously not-dot-com'd] Coliseum | MSG+
Desert blog where dogs dog it: Five for Howling
When these teams last met, Doug Weight was healthy(ish) and notching his 1,000th point, while the Coyotes still had Olli Jokinen and a chance -- 7th place in the West in those salad days -- at the playoffs. Apparently, it's no coincidence that they couldn't get there with Olli the Eniigmaa, so they wisely cut bait with the former King/Islander/Panther.
Now that the Coyotes have joined the Islanders in the land of the lottery -- and that's where they'll finish, or my name ain't Nathan Arizona -- they have a fresh roster of former Rangers and other cursed deadline clippings to make hay with. Like the Islanders, their treasure chest of young kids may find life is likeable without the older guys around. Petr Prucha and Nigel Dawes are easier to like once they showered off their Broadway blues.
Still, anyone expecting a letdown on the Islanders' part? After yesterday's thrilling win (boy, that's a rare phrase in these parts), the kids have another chance to go out there and play some pond hockey. Or they have a chance to feel good about themselves and sleepwalk through a game after yesterday's post-game celebratory libations.
So far on this Coyotes road trip, they've stunned the Bruins 2-1 and made like Devils in losing to the Sabres, 5-1. Tough to predict which version comes out today.
As we already heard, possible future captain Trent Hunter is now out for the season after fracturing his ankle yesterday. But honestly, that just clears more room for the kids to get a taste of life as responsible NHLers. Jesse Joensuu is apparently night and day different from where he was last season and last fall -- so most Islanders fans will be happy to get longer looks at him and Mike Iggulden, as well as the rest of the kids we've been talking about all season long.