This isn't fair to either coach, but it's fun to look at anyway. Here is a basic numbers comparison of the Islanders in Scott Gordon's final eight games versus Jack Capuano's first eight games. As always, these figures exclude empty-net and shootout goals, which only make numbers even less meaningful:
|Gordon's final 8||0-7-1||8||28||3/36||23/29|
|Cap's first 8||1-5-2||16||24||0/24||26/33|
Positive spin: More offense! Three more points! Plus, it takes a while to adjust under a new coach, as seen last year with Peter Laviolette and Davis Payne.
Negative spin: What's changed? It's the players, stupid.
Neutral spin: It's too early to tell. These are figures trotted out on broadcasts in Sports Fan's Endless Search for Meaning.
Gordon's GA figures include both blowouts (Flyers 6-1, Hurricanes 7-2). Capuano has yet to see a powerplay goal, which is stunning but a mere continuation of ills begun under Gordon. Put another way: I have attended three family birthday parties since the last time I saw an Islanders PP goal. Worse: I had to buy a Flyers hat for my rebellious godson and nephew.
You wouldn't think the insane goaltending of Tim Thomas [update: word is Rask, actually] and defense of Claude Julien's Bruins would be just what the slump doctor ordered for these Isles, but you never know. (Right?...I mean, that's still true, isn't it?...Guys?)
New York Islanders (5-15-5, 30th) at Boston Bruins (15-8-3, 8th)
[bank or enema brand or acronym for touchdown or some such] Garden
7 p.m. EST | MSG+ (HD), NESN (HD), NHL audio - WRHU 88.7
To them, a "Milbury" is just a big defenseman-turned-coach/talking head: Stanley Cup of Chowder
Random Things of Uncertain Meaning
The Bruins' PP is better than the Islanders (17% vs. 15.1%), as is their PK (86.7% vs. 81.7%). But the Bruins both land more shots (32.1 vs. 28.2) and give up more shots (33.7 vs. 29.5) per game. All hail Tim Thomas.
This is an intra-East matchup...but are the Bruins a very good team, or just a good team in an awful conference? Most would agree right now the West is still superior to the East. (Sit down, Putin, we're just talking intra-North America NHL hockey here.) In the bottom 10 of the league, there are three Western teams (two of which are 21st and 22nd overall). Twelve Western teams have 30 points or more. Not to depress you.
Rick DiPietro gets the start.
- Based on practice this week, Jesse Joensuu lines up next to John Tavares and Matt Moulson, while P.A. Parenteau slides into his slot next to Frans Nielsen and Michael Grabner. That takes size away from that Nielsen/Grabner pairing, but depending on how Capuano uses them it might actually give them an offensive boost.
- The Bruins are now without Mark Stuart.
- NEW: Comeau speaks to Justin Bourne about...stuff.
Julien is giving us the "hard workers" treatment, in accordance with the Coaching Bible:
"Anybody who's followed them is going to tell you they've been in every game," said Bruins coach Claude Julien. "It's not like people are walking all over them. They've lost some close games.
- Newsday, which is temporarily not $5 please to you folks beyond the area and/or outside of corporate conglomeration, has both a pre-game (lots of talk on belief and the mental side) and a chat with beat writer Katie Strang from this morning.
- 7th Woman's pre-game Christmas hopes there and at HB.
- Another plea for veterans, this from Rob at THW.
The Sound Tigers nabbed a come-from-behind win over Springfield -- Josh Bailey scored another goal -- and Michael Fornabaio's post-game blog is here. David Ullstrom is banged up but in a "soft tissue" kind of way. The Poulin Wall was in goal.
* * *
A lot of great discussion happening around here, which is impressive when you consider the depths of this 1-win-in-18 binge. From WebBard's extensive look at the rebuild, to polls on what you would do if the Isles moved in 2015 and other FanPosts. Cheers to all of you commenters. (Okay, except for that guy over there.).
Separate game thread should be up tonight before game time, but you can leave your FIGs (First Islanders Goal pick) here, too. And if you're abstaining because the Islanders have done nothing but lose since we started the FIG pool, I understand.
My FIG: The Finn Named Jesse crashes the net at 13:58, Tavares bounces the puck off his butt and in, and we all go, "OMG, like Capuano is on to something here for real."
For those of you in the Northeast who finally get to watch an Isles game, I hope you bring us luck. Sorry about your announcers.