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Islanders Gameday: Nino Niederreiter's last stand?

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Tonight begins a big home-and-home with the Habs, but the roster may be quite different on the return leg Friday night at home. If tonight in Montreal is indeed Nino Niederreiter's last 2010-11 Islanders game (I doubt it), I hope he gives Michael Cammalleri a few hard checks to test if Cammi remembers what his stick is for. (So far, you'd think yes: He's put up 3-3-6 in seven games.) Maybe excitable and exciting call-up Matt Martin joins in that kind of fun, if given the opportunity.

Nyi-y_medium                  Mon-right_medium 
New York Islanders (4-2-2) @ Montreal Canadiens (5-2-1)
[beer or telephony or something] Centere
7:30 p.m. EDT | MSG+2 (twice the plus!), TSN, RDS | NHL audio - WRHU 88.7
Not setting things on fire just because: Habs Eyes on the Prize

In truth, neither is likely to see much of the Andrei Kostitsyn - Cammalleri - Tomas Plekanec line, as that will be Frans Nielsen's job whenever Scott Gordon can arrange it. Cammalleri and his teammates have done so well in the early going that they now sit in a four-way tie with 11 points atop the Eastern Conference. (One of their suite mates, the Maple Leafs, benefited last night from one of the most egregious blown penalty calls I can remember.)

Presumably the rational Habs fans (they do exist, they're just quieter) are over the whole Jaroslav Halak trade by now, as they have a nice budding player in Lars Eller and a promising goalie left behind. Carey Price will start his ninth consecutive game tonight and might not even get booed, seeing as he's helped a low-scoring team (2.5GF/GP) off to a 5-2-1 start.

This Year

The Habs are doing it without Andrei Markov and the horrible powerplay that seems to accompany that loss: While the Habs' penalty kill is at 90%, their powerplay is a league-worst 6.9% thus far. (I know...that means they're due.)

They're outscoring teams at 5-on-5 at a 1.23:1 ratio and out-shooting opponents overall 30.2 to 27.5 per game. (The Islanders, meanwhile, have lost their advantage in that departent and are now at 28.8 to 28.8 on the year.) But yeah, it's early, all of these figures are apt to change quite a bit.

And if you're impressed the Islanders have 12 different goalscorers, the Canadiens have 11. With the home-and-home tonight and Friday representing 20 percent of either team's games played, that list just might expand on both sides.

 

Last Year

The Islanders lost the first three meetings but pulled out a late season shootout win in the final meeting, one that featured -- get this -- a three-point night from Sean Bergenheim, the continuation of a 7-0-2 run for Martin Biron, and a shootout conversion by the Danish Backhand of Judgment. (Quiz: Which of those three things is not shocking?)

 

First Goal Poll

It's preferred (isn't passive voice great for instructions?) that you leave your pick in the game thread when it opens before the game, but if that's not workable you can leave it here. It just has to be posted before puck drop, and you have to add your player and time of goal (as a tiebreaker).

Needs

  • Matt Martin to, as Frans would say, "Do what he do" -- without trying to do too much and get into a ref-penalizes-the-unknown-rookie situation.
  • Niederreiter to not worry about The Decision and this possibly being his last game, and just be natural. (I know, that's hard.)
  • The Islanders to play three periods. (Also hard, but highly conducive to winning.)
  • Josh Bailey to pick up where he left off. John Tavares too.
  • James Wisniewski to resist the urge to go out of position to plaster Cammalleri.
  • Personally, I'd love it if Gordon continue the sneaky pattern of starting Dwayne Roloson against the teams that occupy a share of first place. (Okay, Colorado wasn't...)

Links of Interest

"We haven't made a final decision yet," Snow said by telephone. "There are a lot of ingredients that go into making the decision: What's in the best interest for the player, what's in the best interest of the organization, how we feel about the organization we'd be sending him back to, and also the mental makeup of the player."

  • Speaking of Snow, Ken Dick with some insight from that preseason blogger roundtable. [Okposo Net]
  • We had our it's-early-but Corsi look at Nino; ESPN NY has the same for Ilya.
  • If you missed it, those two objections to the Shinnecock getting their tribal recognition were dismissed. [BC FanShot] Resume speculation.
  • Also the Puck Daddy/Bourne bit on "hockey sense" and Tavares (among others) posted by ilopan was a good read.