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Islanders Gameday: Injury shuffle as Thrashers visit

Atl-28_medium               Oldny_medium
Atlanta Thrashers (18-17-5) at New York Islanders (16-18-8)
7 p.m. | Nassau [gloriously unsponsored] Veterans Mem. Coliseum | MSG+, radio
No One is Anonymous: Birdwatchers Anonymous

Tim Jackman suffered a broken orbital bone from Matt Carkner's punches (you know, it was just "roughing") and is out 3-4 weeks. Jackman describes his night in detail here. Katie Strang thinks his spot will be taken by Jeff Tambellini, who lined up with Richard Park and Jon Sim this morning. ... Meanwhile, old friend Miro Satan has found a home in Boston with a no-movement clause.

Stepping down a level: Rick DiPietro allowed three goals and faced a barrage of third-period shots (and lots of goalie interference/knockdowns) in his start for Bridgeport last night, a 3-2 loss in Providence. Mike Fornabaio says he might start for the Sound Tigers again Sunday.

But tonight's focus: Here come the Thrashers, who in coaching parlance, the Islanders have "matched well with" in two previous meetings. Amusingly, in that Strang (paywall) update, Richard Park says the Isles were opportunistic in their two wins over Atlanta, while Scott Gordon thinks the pressure applied to the Atlanta D was the difference. The truth is probably a little of both.

I'm a little wary of Atlanta this time. They're struggling something fierce, but they should also arrive angry: They blew a 3-0 lead in Buffalo last night and lost on an awful bounce in OT. Before the comeback, they'd outshot the Sabres 27-12. Ah, hockey.

(Speaking of shots: Kyle Okposo's shooting percentage this year is 4.6, versus 8.4 for U.S. Olympian Ryan Callahan. What do you think the chances are he stays that snakebitten? Not that life actually works this way, but if Okposo was shooting a more normal 8 percent, he'd have 10 goals to go with his 21 assists. Yes, ah hockey.)

But maybe Atlanta doesn't arrive angry, and instead defeated. This Ilya Kovalchuk contract thing is hanging over the franchise's head, and while anything can happen, with the turn of the calendar the pendulum of probability switches to the side of the pessimists. Original 28 jokes aside, I sincerely hope they can get a deal done, because I fear what will come of that franchise if they lose their signature star. Not that Ilya's terribly bothered: He has five goals in the last six games.

Special Teams: The Daily Saga

The Islanders PK has tightened up, going 13 for 13 in five games, but almost as importantly, the team has stayed out of the box.

Impotent Force Meets Transparent Sieve: The powerplay (15.4%) is a different story, stuck in 2-for-40 land. Happily, the Thrashers PK has allowed an until-recently-Islanders-like 12 in 25 opportunities. When slumps meet, my money's still on the unit that generally succeeds more than 50% of the time. Then again, we've got Rob Schremp Hockey.

Goalies: The most important position in ... oh, you know

Dwayne Roloson, our #1 and savior, is in again tonight. Johan Hedberg suffered the loss last night for Atlanta. Ondrej Pavelec, who is not your typical crazy superstitious goalie, allowed 8 goals in his two losses to the Isles this year.

Is it 2010 already? Man, I've already got stuff to do. Have fun tonight, the first Saturday home game of the year. I might be around for the game thread.