Yet like last year's Stars and the previous year's Avalanche, they are drawing the scrutinizing lens of Men Who Study Possession Stats. More recently, when garik16 looked at the Islanders' poor possession numbers, he found the Wild still at the bottom of the league. By those figures, the Wild should not be a first-place team. Yet they win.
Adding a new wrinkle to the competing narratives of what Wild things may come this season, they have a litany of Islanders-esque injuries. In fact, the Wild are at their most serious triage point just as the Islanders get some bodies back. If late December becomes the time when the Wild's slipper no longer fits, the question will migrate to injuries vs. regression.
From the Isles fan side, better than any health news: Tonight you get Jiggsy with it.
Michael Russo reports Pierre-Marc Bouchard skated this morning, so he is quite possibly in the lineup and escaping concussion concerns. Russo says if he doesn't go, the Wild are likely to run seven defensemen with recently scratched Greg Zanon being the extra.
Significantly, Mikko Koivu is ruled out as are Devin Setoguchi and Guillaume Latendresse. Making his NHL debut is Miami of Ohio product and undrafted free agent Jarod Palmer, who is a guy. The Minnesotan has a rep for durability and battlin', so expect him to be in hyped form for his NHL debut in front of a bevy of home fans.
Matt Martin - Marty Reasoner - Nino
...with D pairings like so:
Mark Streit - Milan Jurcina
MacDonald - Travis Hamonic (gettin' the band back together)
Mike Mottau - Dylan Reese
Al Montoya starts in goal.
Turning it around on a Tough Road Trip
Neither Minnesota nor Winnipeg are fun places to play right now. Tonight is first versus darn near last. Recent close losses hurt more thanks to the sins of November. So here we are.
Is Jack Capuano out of ideas, or just tired of talking about it? In the "bodies back" Newsday piece linked above, he says:
"We use all these analogies, 'need to be consistent, need to play 60 minutes,' I don't even know what that means anymore," Capuano said. "We just got to find ways to win. That's the bottom line."
Yes, the bottom line. The Wild have it right now. The Islanders don't.
Leave your First Islanders Goal picks here. And hope there is a winner.
- The Canadiens fire Jacques Martin -- they didn't even lose to the Isles! -- who I'm sure was the problem there. Players react. Habs Eyes on the Prize reacts.
- Fornabaio with the reaction from the Sound Tigers getting "outworked" last night. And here's his game recap article.
- Ken Dryden's Grantland piece on concussions has an insight I always try to tell younger fans: For all of Gary Bettman's flaws and mistakes and moves that reflect his bosses' wishes and not our own, he's actually better than most of his predecessors.
- From the IIHF: Speaking with Shanahan: Part I
- Fun hearing Bryzgalov's ex-teammate discuss his 24/7 appearance. Edited version of that episode is here.
- LATE: The Senators have given up David Rundblad and a 2nd to Phoenix for Kyle Turris. Huh.
So ... Let's. Go. Islanders. Then.