After last night's ugly unmentionable, there's no way to go but up, right? We'll see. Today the season ends as it began: Hosting the Penguins. It's also Islanders Fan Appreciation Night, and the Penguins -- thanks to their 1-0 Cooke Karma loss in Atlanta -- have little to play for beyond individual milestones. (For example, Sidney Crosby is one goal behind in the Maurice Richard race, and I'm quite certain the tired debate of Crosby vs. Ovechkin hangs on the outcome.)
Pittsburgh Penguins (46-28-7, 4th seed) at New York Islanders (34-37-10, 25th)
Nassau [gloriously unsponsored] Veterans Memorial Coliseum
5 p.m. EDT | MSG+, radio
Resting for Ottawa: PensBurgh
But the Islanders are banged up and beaten down. Last night it was expected Sean Bergenheim would join Josh Bailey and Blake Comeau on today's injured list. [Update: Little-used Joel Rechlicz is up from Bridgeport to fill the hole.] On the other hand, the better goalie will start. Outcome:Uncertain is why they play the game.
Speaking of uncertainties, for a head-start on shopping for free agent defensemen, Kevin Allen has his list of hot targets up. Some wild prices thrown around there.
And more unknowns: The Sound Tigers clinched a playoff spot without Brendan Witt (lots of good info in that link), but their postseason opponent is to be determined by today's games. They should start on the road Wednesday.
Last Laborious Lottery Line
It's not that I'm disinterested in draft position. It's that I can't watch a game and actually root for an Islanders loss. Doesn't happen that way. Further: With a win the Islanders would only get the 6th seed in the lottery. Which means they'd get a good player at #6 regardless, or would have a 6.2% chance of winning the lottery and picking 2nd, or about a 13% chance of being lapped by a lottery winner who bumps them to seventh.
With an OTL, they'd have the 5th or 6th seed. With a regulation loss, they'd be 4th or, with some magic, 3rd.
So will I root for an Isles win today? Yeah. I want John Tavares to rack up some points. I want Matt Moulson to notch his 30th. I want Kyle Okposo to get 20. I want to hear the goal horn. And if they fail for the third game in a row? Nice consolation prize.
We Need Defensemen ... at the Top End
Fun with counting stats:
|2009-10 - Chris Campoli (Ott)
|2009-10 - Jack Hillen||67||3||17||20||-4||40||1||-.35||20:42||4.1|
|2009-10 - Bruno Gervais||69||3||14||17||-14||29||1||-.60||20:02||3.8|
Interestingly close -- from the offensive end. But counting stats can be deceiving. It's interesting that Hillen was billed as the "new Campoli," while Campoli wanted a bigger role that he's yet to receive in Ottawa. By Behind the Net's Rating -- labeled "relative +/-" in the table above, Campoli is the lowest among regular Senators D-men. At least he'll have the playoffs though, along with Andy Sutton.
On the Farm's Farm
Mikko Koskinen gave up 3 goals on 11 shots in a 6-3 Game 6 home loss to Vegas. The Grizzlies made a game of it though. For Mikko, after a strong return from injury to close the regular season, that's now two rough playoff games out of three.
Atlanta: What Was the Problem Again?
Pierre LeBrun said this on HNIC and also in his column at ESPN:
I'm hearing rumblings Thrashers coach John Anderson might be shown the door in Atlanta. There had been rumors during the season that the team was considering a coaching change.
If that's true, Anderson would be the first of the "new wave" of young(ish) AHL coaches promoted to the NHL to deliver a more "new NHL"-friendly style of play. The success of all of these coaches has been remarkably commensurate with the quality of the rosters they've had: Peter DeBoer in Florida, Scott Gordon on Long Island, Dan Bylsma in Pittsburgh, Bruce Boudreau in D.C., Todd McLellan in San Jose, Cory Clouston in Ottawa, Davis Payne in St. Louis.
Of that group, Anderson would be the first to be fired, and it would be after two seasons for a management team that has produced four playoff games in a decade.
So who's the problem in Atlanta again?
Readers: Thanks for Another Year in the Books
This site is basically 365 days a year, so there's no change even though the season is ending. In some ways, summer is actually fun because it provides more time for deeper pieces that the busy Olympic-year league schedule doesn't allow. So stick around, and I promise it will be worth your while. Maybe add some pieces of your own.
But regardless, thanks to everybody for another fun season of talking Islanders hockey and trying to make each other laugh. I promised not to talk traffic stats but once a year, but suffice to say your participation numbers have grown each month. My chief goal in ever creating this site was to have a comfortable destination where thinking fans could hang out, talk Islanders hockey, give each other good-natured trouble, and share what we know and what we think we know. I think we've done that, so cheers and thanks.
Between Islanders report cards, the playoffs, lottery Tuesday, draft in June, free agency in July, we'll have material to chew. So see you around.
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Prediction: Well, yesterday's prayer for no more injuries didn't work out. So: Moulson gets #30; someone is sacrificed to the hockey gods as a result.