The Islanders are about as far away as they can travel, and Dylan Reese is there to join them. That was the word from Newsday's Arthur Staple last night. Staple predicted as much, but that choice surprises me a little because the Islanders do have six healthy defensemen (as far as we know), which should mean Reese would require waivers if and when he's returned. Maybe that's a low risk.
We discussed this plenty yesterday, but tonight's opponent is in some kind of hell. They've replaced the coach but the players and the performance have not improved (3-9-2 under Bruce Boudreau). Their possession figures are awful, they're not a victim of much bad luck, and their GM has acknowledged a willingness to trade anybody but it's not at all clear he'd know which direction to turn. They may have some bad powerplay luck -- they generate shots but have only converted 16.2%.
Overall they get outshot by quite a bit, but that's nothing new -- just in previous seasons they've ridden top-line surges and Jonas Hiller to overcome that.
The Ducks are on a three-game losing streak to good opponents, while the Islanders are on a three-game winning streak over bad opponents. We'll see where the middle is tonight.
Of course if the Islanders want to elevate themselves into the next caste, they really need to extend that streak against tonight's bad opponent and then deal with tomorrow's in Phoenix. (No doubt the Ducks are thinking the same about ending their streak.) Quoth Parenteau earlier this week:
"No one wants to be in last place," Parenteau said after the game. "We're not looking behind right now. We've got to play a little better than that if we're going to catch these teams. But I think we have the team to do it, to get on a good ride right now."
We'll see. Two desperate teams, for slightly different reasons, trying to claw out of the land they call the lottery.
One interesting side story might be how these Pacific teams know Evgeni Nabokov, and whether Jack Capuano uses Anders Nilsson on one of these back-to-back road games.
Fun Detail from Center Ice Last Night
Watching the Kings-Coyotes game last night, legendary Kings announcer Bob Miller mentioned he was happy to see Butch Goring in the building. Miller wondered how Goring would do if they had shootouts in his day, because "he was always good at breakaways." Miller also dinged his fellow senior announcer Jiggs McDonald: "Jiggs isn't here. He's getting old, he must not go out after dark."
Good times. Miller actually filled McDonald's old role as Kings announcer way back in 1973, a year after Jiggs went to the Flames, who were in Atlanta at the time. (If you didn't know that last part, you just made me feel as old as Miller.)
- And sticking with the lighter side: This was a fun description from Snakes on the Plane of the Islanders players watching the WJC in the post-game locker room (delaying their bus) after the win in Raleigh. The Ryan Strome detail is nice.
- Okay, one more lighter side thing: John Tavares and P.K. Subban as Team Canada pups. [FanShot] Classic.
- Alright, one more: Anyone watch 24/7 or Capuano on the fishing show last night? Thought Capuano came off well, as expected. Liked Garth Snow hounding the host who wanted to wear his Bruins jersey on Coli ice.
Elsewhere in Hockey
Islanders draft pick Johan Sundstrom and his Swedish mates are gold medal winners, and boy did they ever deserve it. Cheers to them [FanShot]. They outshot Russia 58-17 overall and 42-4 after two periods. Those aren't typos. Yet still they needed OT to squeak out a 1-0 win on Mika Zibanejad's pretty backhand winner. Said their coach of resisting frustration after dominating for so long without a goal:
"It became a mental game," said Rönnberg. "It’s amazing that players who are 16 to 19 can cope with this."
Sundström carried significant roles on his team, and I forget to note this HF interview with himm from earlier in the tournament.
Sundström's future Islanders teammate (we can hope) Strome won bronze with Canada, who beat Finland 4-0. Strome finished with 3-6-9 and a +9 in six games, though we must take some of the lesser opponents into account with those numbers.
NHL Massacre: The Calgary Flames were destroyed by the Boston Bruins 9-0 last night. NINE to NOTHING. I don't know what to say about that, although somehow it adds context to the Islanders losing 6-0 to the Bruins earlier this season and narrowly beating the Flames at home in the last week of 2011. The Bruins' goal differential is now 138-69 for a plus 69. I don't know what to say about that either, except it's insane.
- Meanwhile: What to do with the repeat offenders? | Backhand Shelf
- And can we quantify this: Sabermetric Research: Do NHL referees call "make up" penalties?
- We can certainly try to quantify this: A thorough look at which NHL players have the most "beerability" | Backhand Shelf Of course Bill "McNulty" Guerin gets a mention there, as we've heard some of those tales from Bourne before. But Guerin's no longer an NHLer, so Bourne picks 10 current ones. On the Isles I'd pick P.A. Parenteau, just to see how easy it is to wind up the fiery Frenchman.
- Brian Burke doesn't like things. Don't show him no data. Is Hitting Leaving The Game? - Pension Plan Puppets
- Darren Dreger's always good copy (or...voice?) and he chats with Chris Botta about the league trade landscape, which is very barren.
- Great list from Mike Hume: 24/7: Episode 4 Winners and Losers - ESPN New York
Leave your First Islanders Goal picks in this thread. The game is at 10 p.m. EST tonight, which stinks for many of you but is actually convenient for some of our farflung readers. You gonna catch it, or are you going to just catch the highlights and let us make up what happened for you?