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Islanders vs. Devils Matinee: Life without Blake Comeau

So here the Islanders are, beginning life without Blake Comeau and his zero points and minus-11 in 16 games this year, and without his 24 goals and minus-17 in 77 games last year neither. This team has had a, well, "logjam" isn't the right word; perhaps "imbalance" weighted toward the left wing, for quite some time. Comeau hitting waivers takes one surplus piece out of that puzzle, though the piece itself is not one I'd deem "surplus" to needs.

Njd-tailslim_medium            Nyi-yslim_medium
New Jersey Devils (11-8-1) @ New York Islanders (5-10-4)
Nassau [
gloriously unsponsored] Veterans Mem. Coliseum
3 p.m. EST | MSG+/2 | Audio: NHL -
Rationalizing the Devil:
In Lou We Trust

Oddly, in Comeau's potentially [it's official: The Flames claimed Comeau] Last Game as an Islander the other night, from that surplus the Isles elected to sit a right wing (Nino Niederreiter) and a center (Marty Reasoner). The left-leaning Brian Rolston was also out sick, and this afternoon's lineup may indicate how "lingering" that inner body injury is.

The candidates for filling the void Comeau left for several games and now leaves for plenty more are many: Niederreiter of course, plus David Ullstrom and his two NHL games and counting, plus anyone who might be called up once Comeau is officially off the NHL roster.

The devil's bargain -- no pun associating with today's opponent intended -- in this situation is that if Comeau clears and is assigned to Bridgeport, calling him back up requires re-entry waivers. If he played well enough in Bridgeport to elicit a recall, you'd have to imagine teams that didn't want to take a pro-rated $2.5 million gamble on him might change their mind if that became an even more pro-rated $1.25 million.


Something of Coincidental Interest

Of Comeau's fellow arbitration-eligible forwards we compared him to over the summer when guessing at his salary range that landed on $2.5 million, Blake Wheeler has one goal (but also 10 assists) in Winnipeg, Teddy Purcell has 5-7-12 (though required a few coach talking to's) in Tampa Bay, and Andrew Cogliano in Anaheim is at 4-4-8 and apparently no longer being forced into a center's role.

Of course, all of them play on teams that score more than the Islanders do -- though Anaheim only by the slimmest of margins -- and in hockey every little variable always feeds everything else. It's hardly a reach to picture Comeau in a parallel universe, or perhaps any other stretch of 16 games in his career, and see him have any of those totals mentioned above. (Well, maybe Purcell's is a stretch, and Wheeler's assists seem extreme, but you get the point: If Comeau hadn't just had arguably the worst 16 games of his career, does he still hit waivers?)


This Afternoon's Opponent

After a three-game losing streak at the end of October, the Devils have won seven of 10 and three of their last four. Ah, but there are three shootout "wins" and one OT victory amid those seven two-point bounties, so take their like totally hotness with the usual grain of Bettman Brand salt.

Their possession stats at even strength with the score close or tied put them in the middle of the league so far, but it's not equating to anything better than a 24th-ranked 5-on-5 scoring ratio so far. Their PK is fantastic (a league-high 93.8%) and their powerplay is abysmal (a bottom-three 12.3%). Their team shooting and save percentages are also middle of the league, so no one could blame you if you found them unremarkable, kind of like you might have felt while watching them play at any point in the last 15 years. They're also ugly and their mother dresses them funny.


Goalie Salvation?

Al Montoya is off IR. I would imagine he'd get the home start of this back-to-back, but this topic is subject to revision and team announcement by the time you read this.



Capuano on Micheal Haley [Newsday]:

"Micheal's one of those guys [whose] personality dictates how he plays. I've had him for a while and he had a short stint last year," Capuano said before the game. "He can play the game, he's got some skill and at the same time he gives us an element of grit."

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