Is it tempting fate too much to mention the odd "streak" the Islanders have going against the Red Wings (4-0-1), fetching points and avoiding regulation defeat all the way back to an OT defeat under Ted Nolan? To illustrate the oddities, that run includes fortune, a blowout and a night when Joey McDonald and his posts had the game of their life.
Speaking of the variables of the Bettman NHL's "The People Demand a Winner" era, the Wings are coming off a game in which the winner, with a win, could grab first place in the Central. Or, as it turned out, the Wings beat the Blackhawks in OT, so it became a three-point game and both teams grabbed a share of first place with the Blues.
And as long as we're picking oddities out of the air: A key contributor to that victory was Ty Conklin, who was the only goalie with 25 games played last season to have a lower save percentage than Rick DiPietro.
It's been mentioned a lot that the Red Wings are a dominant possession team, and one measure of that -- their "Fenwick" with the score close or tied (basically, +/- of shots at even strength) -- has them at the top of the league. There are several teams over 50% by that measure, and then there are the teams that are over by a large margin such as Detroit, St. Louis, Boston and Pittsburgh.
That shouldn't be too surprising by reputation nor by record: As you might have noticed with the ambiguous third column in their record, the Wings have only reached OT four times, going to the breakaway drill at the end only once. There's no binge of Bettman points clouding things here.
But if you want to fish for a way for the funny 4-0-1 streak over the visitors to continue, they're closing out a four-game road run here and could always choose this night to focus just a little bit less than when their opponent is, say, a Central foe.
Islanders Lineup and What-Not
The buzz at the end of the day yesterday was the swap of emergency loans, Kevin Poulin for Anders Nilsson. Coming off his shutout-fueled Player of the Week performance for Bridgeport, the thinking was Poulin may draw the start tonight and spell Evgeni Nabokov, who's played a whole lot since Christmas and who, if you read into such things, has a 3.53 GAA and .888 save percentage in 29 starts against the Red Wings across multiple era.
UPDATE: Sorry, Poulin admirers. Capuano doesn't want to throw him to the wolves just yet.
David Ullstrom and Al Montoya (concussions) are skating but not ready yet. Rick DiPietro isn't even skating, and Newsday said to expect an update on his latest injury this week.
With injuries also chipping away at the edges of the lineup, you have to expect the same forwards tonight. No word of a forward recall along with Poulin yesterday, so it seems the Isles are content to have Jay Pandolfo as 4th-line center after Marty Reasoner's broken hand. You can still hope, if you're wanting something else, that "no-longer-emergency" Dylan Reese gets another look on the blueline.
- Rob McGowan argues for non-fourth-line minutes for Nino Niederreiter.
- Dee Karl muses on all of the above (except Nino) plus Grabner.
- Ryan Strome's team is loading up, adding Jamie Oleksiak.
- More from that Making of a Royal series with that one guy, I forget his name.
- Copper & Blue tackles Peter Chiarelli's statement complaining about the Marchand suspension, Fire Joe Morgan style.
- More on the Marchand drama at ESPN. And from CSNNE.
- Must See: Aww, you know Danny -- that what he do: Danny Briere doing what Danny Briere does best. (When I say Briere is an absolute piece of Avery, I say that in the most objective way possible. Honest.)
- Rebuild Angst: Oilers Mid-Season Review: First Rebuild, Now What? - The Copper & Blue
- Interesting thoughts on media treatment of realignment, stats, and the dodgy fighting:momentum headlines.
- Heh: KHL: Gun-slinging owners, drugs, dodgy air travel all part of the game - thestar.com
- Injuries, they cost: December Cap Hit of Injured Players (CHIP) Update - The Copper & Blue
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