The metro rivals who toil in the backwaters of the MSG fiefdom go at it again today, with puck drop two hours earlier than Black Friday. Martin Brodeur was expected in net for the Devils, but we'll see if Jack Capuano follows suit by playing Rick DiPietro or giving Al Montoya his second start in less than 24 hours.
This isn't news exactly, but Garth Snow did confirm to ESPN's Katie Strang [FanShot talk here] that there are no plans to return Nino Niederreiter to juniors. Nino had said as much to Swiss media earlier this season, but Nino's three recent healthy scratches have people wondering.
From my end, I bet it's a reflection of the conundrum teams always face with top prospects at this age: The team thinks they're better than juniors, but not quite everyday NHL game-ready. These players belong in the AHL -- Nino played well but was hardly dominant in his AHL rehab stint earlier this year -- but that's not an option thanks to NHL-CHL agreement. Nino's nearly the same age John Tavares was during his rookie year, but obviously not at the same level of readiness.
Tight Checking, Slumping, or Both? John Tavares leads the Islanders with 16 points in 20 games (8-8-16), but he's gone four games without a point as the Islanders have been shutout three times. It's been nine games without a goal for him; he has 31 shots during that drought.
Tavares Fined: Speaking of Tavares, he was fined $2,500 by the NHL for a late slash on Zach Parise that went unpenalized. That's the same fine Drew Doughty received (no suspension) for crosschecking TJ Oshie into the boards from behind with two seconds left on the clock. Interesting.
For a Devils take on yesterday, check out the recap at In Lou We Trust.
Larsson Funkadelic: Adam Larsson was victimized by Michael Grabner, then victimized again to lead to that penalty shot. Here's his take on how Peter DeBoer's response to the first one helped set him up for the second one: "I felt good in the second period," he said. "I thought I played really good and then I made a mistake and then I sat for like 12 minutes. Then it’s tough to come in on the PP like that."
Elsewhere: Yesterday, the Blue Jackets beat the Sabres 5-1, pulling themselves out of 30th place (the Isles have two games in hand on them and Anaheim though). I've mentioned the Blue Jackets by possession were better than their early record looked, and their luck was due to change. The Isles also should be better than what they've shown, but we'll see. In either case, they can't slump this bad forever. Stay tuned.
Also, in St. Louis Blake Comeau made his Flames debut wearing #10, but his new team lost 2-0. He skated 20 shifts and a little over 15 minutes, including some powerplay time. He was part of the issue on the Blues' second goal with a back pass that went awry; you can see the aftermath in the clip here (Pietrangelo goal). We'll keep an eye on him to see how he adapts and settles into new surroundings.
('Cause I'd Rather Be Back in SoHo / Than Down Here) on the Farm: Bridgeport beat the Whale 6-2 yesterday, with Calvin de Haan returning to score a goal and play well according to Michael Fornabaio. He also reports Matt Donovan was plus-4, and Justin DiBenedetto may yet be back this weekend.
Capuano on Yesterday's Failings
Capuano on the theme of pucks to the net: Say what you want about the Devils' goal with the broken stick, "it still started with a shot."
Leave your First Islanders Goal (LOL) picks in this thread over here.