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Islanders vs. Avalanche Gameday: Montoya Behind the Zero Goal Club

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Gabriel Landeskog has five goals, as does Matt Duchene. (John Tavares has eight, but who's counting?) But at the other end of the spectrum, Kyle Okposo, Josh Bailey and Blake Comeau have zero.

Also with zero: Brandon Dubinsky, Blake Wheeler, Radek Dvorak, Sam Gagner, Dustin Penner. I have scanned the league far and wide, and those are the only remotely comparable forwards (as in: some offense expected) who have played most of their teams' games and share a goose egg with the Islanders' trio of 20-something kids.

Nyi-islestickslim_medium            Que-col-slim_medium
Islanders (4-6-2) @ Avalanche (7-7-1)
9 p.m. EST | MSG+ | Audio: NHL -
WRHU
[super-sweet Michael Jackson-endorsed belly acid] Center
High on altitude, high on Landeskog:
Mile High Hockey

So those guys, they're not going to go scoreless forever. Their droughts are not unprecedented. Luck will probably swing the other way for them at some point and we'll move on to a thousand other points of fret. But right now they have zero goals and that zero is a pretty fair reflection of their performance through the first dozen games.

Mind you, none of the three -- even 24-goal (peak?) Comeau -- is to be seen as snipers. Please don't mistake an expectation of offensive pressure and the occasional tally from these three to be false hope for them to pile up the goals.

But at minimum, each should be asked to provide decent secondary scoring. To drive offense and create chances. With rare exceptions, none have done so in this young-but-getting-awkward season. Hopefully, the breakthrough comes soon.

 

Islanders Lineup Tweaks: Montoya, Mottau In; Juice Out

Behind them, Arthur Staple of Newsday reports that Al Montoya starts in goal, with Rick DiPietro backing him up -- and get this: Mike Mottau enters the lineup for Milan Jurcina.

 

The Opponent: Betting on Varlamov

The Avalanche have a lot of bizarre things going on right now, not the least of which is their leading scorer, Duchene, getting shuffled left and right and up and down by coach Joe "I was a grinder" Sacco. I'm sure Islanders fans would like more of that kind of treatment for their enigmas. But from afar, it's odd to see it happen to Duchene in Year 3 of his career.

More bizarre: The Avs started off winning five of six, and six of eight. But three of those were shootout wins, and another was in OT. So coin flip results flipping their way thus far. Since then, they've lost six of seven, with only one of those losses coming in OT. And they've won only once at home, out of six tries.

The bet here is they are very similar to last year's team with the exception of the rather nice addition of Landeskog, who's no slouch. They are in Islanders territory at 5-on-5 (.75 GF/GA ratio) but do generate more shots per game. Their team shooting percentage of 8.2 is higher than the Islanders' paltry 7.4, so probably won't improve as much as you'd expect the Islanders to. Their powerplay at a crazy 29.2% is tops in the league right now, which covers for their ugly 74% PK.

Oh, but as with the Zero Goal Club mentioned above, many of these extreme figures should normalize a bit. This is just a description of how they've gotten to this point, with a crazy number of goals for and against.

One more tidbit in the early-but-fun department: Semyon Varlamov, for whom a 1st-round pick was sent to Washington, has a .902 save percentage in 12 games. Rick DiPietro's (in only 3+) is .904.

 

Last Year's Meeting

Some guy named John Tavares scored the winner in OT. It was a pretty sweet move, and erased an early 2-0 deficit compiled on Kevin Poulin. In the realm of the Far Less Likely, Jeremy Colliton scored twice.

 

FIG Picks

If you missed the link in the morning thread -- or if you didn't read the morning thread, you disrespectful rascal you -- here is where you leave your First Islanders Goal pick.