After an epic even-strength (more like NO strength amiright?) disaster in Carolina that coach Scott Gordon in understatement called "horrendous," the Islanders' ratio of 5-on-5 GF/GA stands at 0.47 -- a figure that is equal parts laughable and unsustainable. Two blowouts in a row puts them at a league-worst 3.58 GA per game, while their offense remains mid-tier at 2.75 per game.
If I could sum up the Isles performance thus far in a single sentence that disregarded the constant injury turnstile, it would be: When they get some powerplays at 0-0, they can convert and protect the lead; when they don't and they fall behind first, the wheels come off. That's certainly how it feels lately, and it's reflected in the widespread panic among fans who are as miserable now as they were giddy during the season's fortunate (injuries aside) first two weeks.
Tonight's opponent, the Senators, have lived through their own share of early injuries, though none that have them purchasing 2011 teddy bear calendars to mark their return dates. They remain without Milan Michalek, but captain Daniel Alfredsson and Jason Spezza are both healthy.
I watched the Senators beat the Leafs a couple of nights ago and I can't say it was an inspired performance by either team. Brian Elliott, who starts again tonight, certainly came up huge for the Sens. But we all know how Dwayne Roloson plays in Ontario...(he said, hopefully).
Call me a glutton for punishment (and beer. Always beer.) but settings like this intrigue me: Here you have a team that's had its fishstick handed to them two consecutive games, and they're playing on the road on consecutive nights, so they have the traditional excuse to be not all there yet the highest of motivation to show up fast and strong. Likewise, the coach who had three days to prepare them to avoid a repeat debacle saw them do just that, and now he's threatening to "address it by playing time." Should be fun to watch.
Problem is, I don't know how you address it by playing time tonight, since last night everyone was positively awful. I guess you start off rolling all four lines and the first guy who decides to go on walkabout in his own zone gets a seat. As for the defense...'nother story entirely.
This is Tonight's Game Thread
I figured we all have enough reading and discussion threads going between reactions to last night and WebBard's post wondering about Rick DiPietro's chances, so this shall serve as your late-day preview and in-game thread.
First Goal Pool: Get your picks in via reply to the first commenter who leaves their pick. I have to double-check the chart but I'm pretty sure no one won the last two games (Grabner and Nielsen).
Lament: Really, two Ruutus in two nights is asking a lot of any fan.
Reading: A strangely timed but still relevant CBC feature on Josh Bailey's growth.