What's the saying we always come back to? Oh yes: It's never a dull day in Islanders country.
Islanders (5-8-3, 15th/E) vs. Bruins (10-7, 9th/E)
7 p.m. | MSG+ | Audio: NHL - WRHU
Nassau [gloriously unsponsored] Veterans Mem. Coliseum
Better than Mannheim Steamroller: Stanley Cup of Chowder
Keith relayed, and readers dissected, the sequence of events and comments that has resulted in Evgeni Nabokov on IR, Al Montoya unfit (hamstring), Rick DiPietro starting, Anders Nilsson getting the recall (we're still just on the goalies, right?), Kyle Okposo getting an unprecedented third consecutive healthy scratch, and Mark Eaton returning in place of Mike Mottau, benched for the third period in the win over the Canadiens.
Other than that, how was the play, Mr. Westfall?
It's funny, normally when you're in cynical stop-marketing-to-me-I'm-on-to-you mode, you'd say "Oh, this tribute night stuff distracts from the roster churn going on with the struggling on-ice product." But here I am excited to hear Ed Westfall back in the booth and getting an overdue honor, so I'm bummed there is roster drama to distract from what should be a fun night.
But if anything, I bet when you return to the booth you want an interesting game. Even if it's a blowout, this one's going to be interesting for Jiggs and Ed when they reunite in the booth for the second period.
This Is Our Concern, Dude
He’s (Okposo) been real positive," Capuano said. "The communication level has been good. I’ve talked to him, the other coaches have talked to him, and I know Garth’s had a conversation with him. It was good for him to take a step back for a few games here and to just relax mentally. When he does get back in there, I know he’s going to have that fire in his belly and that desperation he needs."
Okposo participated in the optional morning skate at the Coliseum this morning and he told the media, "no one is harder on myself than me."
"It’s been ok, it’s been good and bad," Okposo said. "It’s frustrating that I’m not playing, but I understand where they are coming from."
Things that worry me:
- Barring further moves, Kevin Poulin is about to get a very heavy workload this weekend.
- Okposo has been very un-Okposo like, Dude. This is true. But three straight games? That's more than your Comeau scratch. That's turning the scratch treatment up to
113. There's "a plan" with Okposo -- what, has he been loafing, partying, or Kabanoving to practice? Doubtful.
- Ultimately, I get the whole sticking with the lineup that won -- save for Mottau, who directly influenced two goals against. But against a dominant Bruins team, I'd have expected the message was already sent and it's time to throw all hands on deck.
- Of course I'm the one who suggested he was the "favored son" of the Three Enigmas this year, so I should be the last one to object to a major message sent.
- The Bruins are on a roll, and the NHL office of Shanabanning has told this goalie-running team that goalie-running is totally fine. Just take your two minutes and, if you happen to knock the other team's goalie out, so be it. Two minutes.
- But hey, why not? The Avalanche ran Al Montoya repeatedly, drew only two calls for it, and Montoya hasn't played since. (The Isles say it's a hamstring injury, not a head injury.)
- The Bruins broke from their hangover and fully dominated the Isles during the last meeting, continuing what is now a seven-game winning streak. (Mottau was scratched for that one, too.) It's going to take an awful game from Boston -- they did manage only a shootout win over "lowly" Columbus Thursday, though Curtis Sanford stood on his head -- or else a very focused, 60(5?)-minute effort from the Isles to take points from this.
"Don't take anybody lightly," David Krejci told the Bruins' official website. "Just don't take anybody lightly and just play your game. I think that's what we have to do from now on."
Aww, come on. Just this once, would ya please?
18: The Original Captain
With that buzz out of the way, tonight is still a night for Ed Westfall, a storied former Bruin and Islander. He was a huge part of Islanders history, from their formative years on the ice back when the NHL left expansion teams with nothing but pure scraps, on to announcing next to Jiggs through the Cup-winning years and beyond.
Some of his fondest memories are of the 1975 playoffs, when the third-year franchise shocked the league by storming to three rounds of the playoffs, knocking off rivals, making a historic comeback from 3-0 down against the Penguins, nearly doing that again against the Flyers, and announcing to the league that a team Stan Fischler would call "Hockey's Next Dynasty" in 1976 had arrived.
Westfall talks about that and other memories here.
Fun trivia for contemporary times: Eric Hornick points out that in Westfall's seven seasons as an Isles player, they used five goalies...total. On that note, here's a contrarian view on how Nabokov's injury could help his trade options down the road.
I know some people get tired of retro nights, but this one is not only deserved but overdue.
Lost in the FanShots of the last 12 hours is your place to leave your First Islanders Goal picks. Instructions and a link to the standings are also there. Jones79, Bryville19, and one Pretty Good Idiot currently lead the pack.
*Steamroller reference note: I learned the hard way not to ever lump Mannheim Steamroller, a manufactured commercial machine of Christmas music, with Trans-Siberian Orchestra, a manufactured commercial machine of touring Christmas music. If you make that mistake, "TSO" fans will find you and teach you why TSO's extremely talented and pure musicians are oh so different. Trust me, they will.