I'm not terribly empathetic to the Penguins' injury woes (plus one suspension for a reckless tool), given what the Islanders have gone through in the health department. Nonetheless tonight's matchup is one of epic decimated-roster conditions for both teams, which sometimes creates entertaining slogfests even when the combatants don't have a recent history.
Penguins (35-17-4) @ Islanders (18-29-7)
Nassau [gloriously unsponsored] Veterans Mem. Coliseum
7 p.m. EST | MSG+| Video On Yahoo | audio - WRHU 88.7
Baking cognitive pretzels to rationalize Cooke's existence: PensBurgh
Since it's common for Isles fans to be a bit sensitive about cheap digs from Canadian (and Canadien) media, enjoy this take from longtime columnist Red Fisher of the Montreal Gazette (h/t Hockey1919 and BC's FanShot):
What I saw from my first star [Mikko Koskinen], even though this was only his second NHL game, and the rest of the Islanders was their refusal to play anything less than their best with what they had. It's what teams that have a respect for the game do -- despite facing more problems than any team should be asked to handle.
Tonight the Islanders' league "lead" in man-games to injury will extend itself north of 350, but that doesn't mean it can't be exciting hockey, with both injury-ravaged teams coming off "gutsy" extra-time wins last night, and each having some bad blood history from their last meeting. One of the Islanders' injured, Blake Comeau was still out last night with a concussion from that late Maxim Talbot hit. It's a good bet several Islanders think there is unfinished business here. Time to put on the foil?
Cue Micheal Haley. Among several transactions, Haley was recalled today after Jeremy Colliton was put on IR. Haley makes up in fight what he lacks in size, and he has 196 PIM in the AHL this year.
Also, as expected Joel Martin was returned to Bridgeport (and is expected to start there) while newcomer Al Montoya gets recalled. It's a back-to-back for both teams, so I'm not sure if the Isles would want to run Mikko Koskinen out there again despite a pretty nice performance in his first NHL win last night in Montreal.
The Islanders' only win in the first four meetings was their only home game, that late-2010 2-1 shootout win. I'm sure a physical, charged display on home ice would do much to conjure glue, camaraderie and all those other ambiguous terms around which grown men bond. It could be fun.
Notes of Varying Interest
- If you haven't gotten your tear-filled laugh for the day, check out what Keith uncovered in his investigation into Islanders Face: A growing epidemic.
- Darren Dreger says Snow is asking for a 2nd-rounder for those showing interest in UFA D-man Radek Martinek. [lostsin44 FanShot]
- Seen this a couple of places and do not like it at all: This is actually the second time Kevin Poulin has dislocated his knee cap. FML.
FIG Rules, Revision #77
We're in a bit of an identity crisis trying to sort and organize our FIG (First Islanders Goal) picks around here. The idea is for everyone to have fun making their picks, but as they've gotten more popular it starts to get messy and hard to keep track. So we're trying to find a way to achieve everything in the simplest way. Check out JPinVA's FanPost on how to leave your pick -- i.e., in reply to the first FIG pick, but if someone has already selected your guy, leave your pick (of that guy) in reply to THAT FIG pick.
Assists and times are just for tiebreakers, but they're important since people inevitably pick the same guy.
I expect a good half of you to miss this, but JP is trying to organize FIGs just in that FanPost, so you can leave your pick for tonight starting with this comment of his.
Well, we'll see how it goes. And by next season we'll have a firm, ironclad rule on what method works best.
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In any case, this is your dual preview and in-game thread. Go put on the foil; I'm going skiing for the weekend.