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Islanders Gameday: Here come(s?) the Speedy Wild(s?)

Let's try this again, shall we? The Islanders players collectively know they screwed up Saturday night's home opener, and they have a chance to atone this afternoon in front of the annual Columbus Day crowd of kids, who will cheer at a slightly higher frequency should the Isles choose to give them something to go all Bieber about.

Min-greenslim_medium           Nyi-islestickslim_medium
Minnesota Wild (1-0-0) @ New York Islanders (0-1-0)
1 p.m. EDT | MSG+ | WRHU
Nassau [gloriously unsponsored] Veterans Memorial Coliseum
Clusterbuck Aperans Society: Hockey Wilderness

Visiting are the (is the? Doggone indoor soccer names) Wild, who no doubt feel good about their summer after newcomers Devin Setoguchi and Dan(n)y Heatley each scored in their victorious debut over the Blue Jackets, their brothers from the last NHL expansion just a Rick DiPietro career ago. That was needed elixir for the Wild fan, who must talk himself into rooting for Dan(n)y until his next trade request.

This matinee represents the rare chance for our European and Europe-based buddies to watch the game at a humane hour, so hopefully you guys can enjoy it and then give us a good run-down before the North Americans leave work.

Today the Wild will have to handle things without right wing Pierre-Marc Bouchard, who was suspended for having too many names -- and which drew "kangaroo court" derision from his vocal agent, Allan Walsh.

[**UPDATE: Bouchard has filed an appeal, hearing scheduled at 11 a.m.]

Regardless of the uncertainty around Bouchard's action -- his side called it an accident, but it was his stick -- Walsh's over-the-top vitriol is both predictable from him and also a little unsettling. Just when the league is taking disciplinary action far more seriously than it ever has, Walsh calls the entire process "a farce" and uses the "he's not that kind of player" excuse. But ... well, there's a reason you take what most loud agents say with a grain of salt: While there are some fantastic ones -- usually, the ones you don't hear about -- they are the used car salesmen of the NHL. Their hockey interests frequently clash with those of everyone but themselves and their richest clients.

(Aww, I mean no offense: I have friends who are agents, I mean used car salesmen.)

Anyway, with Bouchard out expect to see tough guy Matt Kassian in. New Wild coach Mike Yeo (fan scapegoat for powerplay woes in Pittsburgh once upon a time) has them focused on playing fast, and that also means going top line vs. top line. With the Islanders at home though, Jack Capuano will surely want Frans Nielsen against that line with Mikko Koivu and the two ex-Shark wingers. Yeo was happy with those wingers' backcheck, but that wouldn't be the first time offense-first forwards started the season by trying harder to impress the coach at both ends.

Expect no lineup changes for the Islanders as Jack Capuano gives them a mulligan and Milan Jurcina might have even had a setback with his groin injury. Presumably, hopefully, dear-god-they-better-fully, that means an actual goal is scored this time.

For commenters looking to make your FIG pick for who scores that goal, go to this thread (and read the directions linked there if you haven't already).


Islanders Links

Further reaction to Saturday night's game: Hornick with the stat "Skinny," including the other times the Islanders have been shut out in a home opener |  NYIFYI's recap, and a teaser for their podcast | Eyes on Isles with a plus/minus recap, and some observations on how Kyle Okposo hitting the post stings even worse when you're blind | 7th Woman with some fan interviews -- JP wasn't the only guy to trudge up from VA.


Haley-Hollweg Fight

If you didn't see it but are into such things, Micheal Haley fought Ryan "Tool" Hollweg in a doozie the other night, posted by Islesenforcers:

Columbus Day / Kids Day History

The Islanders beat the Wild 4-1 last season, in the game where Cal Clusterbuck boarded Justin DiBenedetto from behind and Trevor Gillies responded by immediately crushing Cal into the boards with his arm riding dangerously high on the follow-through. Gillies got the "burn the witch" treatment, and our own mikb turned to Jane Austen to explain the reaction.

(I am in full support of the Shanaban campaign to eliminate careless or intentional headshots. But I do find it funny that this year under stricter rules people are shocked by the severity of six- and eight-game bans, while last year ... nine and 10 games was not enough for Gillies. Last season the NHL caste system was alive and well; we'll see how Shanny handles stars vs. symbolic scapegoats.)

Last year in this Columbus Day/Kids Day game, the Islanders notched a 6*-4 win (*EN) over the Rangers in a wild game with riveting 3rd-period comeback. That was a rarity: Since the lockout, the Islanders have gone 1-4-0 in this game, with a 2-1 loss to the Kings in 2009, a 7-1 drubbing at the hands of the Sabres in 2008, a 2-1 loss to the Caps in 2007, and a 3-1 loss to Florida in 2005. (They began 2006-07 on a West Coast swing.)

Here's to history leveling itself out.