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Islanders Bits: Plenty WJC, NCAA, NHL Hockey All Weekend

Anders Lee is in action Saturday night on Versus, but without running mate T.J. Tynan.
Anders Lee is in action Saturday night on Versus, but without running mate T.J. Tynan.

New York Islanders fans who salivate over Anders Lee will get a chance to watch him Saturday night as Notre Dame hosts Charlie Coyle and Corey Trivino and ... whoever's left at Boston U. at 7 p.m. EST on Versus.

Lee's teammates include 2011 Islanders pick Robbie Russo, who has played all 20 games as a freshman with 3 powerplay goals and 6 assists.

But surely Isles eyes will direct toward Lee, who started this year on fire with 10 goals in seven games but has gone cold since (just two more goals, none in his last nine games).

Now the Irish resume play after the long holiday break, and it will be informative to watch the 6'2", 21-year-old Lee without productive linemate and Blue Jackets prospect T.J. Tynan, who truly stirs the drink on that line. Tynan is off at the U20 World Junior Championship and will be playing in a bigger matchup that same evening.

But before Tynan and his U.S. mates battle Canada Saturday night, the U.S. first take on the Czechs this afternoon at 3:30 p.m. EST. Hockey Prospectus prospect-gazer Corey Pronman has some notes from the tourney's first few days, including brief praise for Ryan Strome.

The Islanders resume play Saturday afternoon -- one of 12 NHL games on New Year's Eve -- when they honor Ken Morrow and induct him into the team Hall of Fame before trying to take down another traveling Western foe in the Edmonton Oilers. (Incidentally, the reason for the Albertan double-visit this week is because Calgary and Edmonton are this year's host for the WJC. The Oilers lost an ugly one in Minnesota last night.

Later that night at the WJC, the NHL network (U.S.) will show what is becoming a New Year's Eve tradition: Canada vs. USA. With its loss to Finland in its second game, Team USA has already burned its mulligan, if you will. Today's matchup with the weaker Czech Republic becomes critical.

The Winter Classic of course is not Jan. 1 this year but actually Monday, Jan. 2, weather permitting. You may hate the Atlantic teams involved (I do) and the hype machine it has become -- alas, without poor waived Sean Avery! -- but one thing the NHL has done right is pick competitive teams in this matchup year after year. Monday's matchup will be for first place in the division and possibly even the conference (depending on how Boston does this weekend).

It all makes for a whole lot of hockey for a holiday weekend. And if you liked this "way of life" hockey video as much as I did, that kind of weekend probably suits you just fine.

Islanders Links

Last night's game reviewed by: Yours truly | the coaches | Newsday | NYIFYI | Eric Hornick's quite thorough Skinny | The Checking Line

Fun quote in that Skinny: "To be honest, the Tavares line dominated us," said Brendan Morrison. "Whoever they played against, they dominated. It’s pretty much the reason they won the game."

Sure, JT was fine, but maybe Matt Martin's playlist was the key to last night's win.

Dreger answers an Isles question in his mailbag, thinking Doug Weight will take on "a bigger role." (There's a bigger role left to take?)

A Few Other Hockey Links

Lots of fun from Jaromir Jagr's return to Pittsburgh, including much greater insight on how that classy, upstanding organization and its honorable fanbase handled his possible return last summer. What I learned from those: Jagr has taken the rookies to do post-game pushups, and he probably is more grounded than many of the fans crucifying him:

"They’ve hated me for seven years. Then, when there is a chance that I am going to go back there, all of the sudden they switch for one or two months? Then I don’t go, and they go back to hating me, but even more than before. I don’t get it. I don’t know what kind of world we’re living in. I don’t get it."

Ah, sports. Enjoy.