This Los Angeles Kings visit comes at the perfect time: It's been way too long since our last on-air Matt Moulson brother-in-law reference.
Islanders (22-23-8, 14th/E) vs. Kings (26-19-10, 7th/W)
1 p.m. EST | MSG+ | Audio: NHL - WRHU
Nassau [gloriously unsponsored] Veterans Mem. Coliseum
Purplish Places: Jewels from the Crown | BOC
There are a few longer-running connections for today's game though, the first being the return of Trent Hunter, who spent a decade in the Islanders organization. Acquired in 2000 for a 4th-round pick, Hunter debuted -- with hair on his head, not on his face -- wearing #43 in the 2002 playoffs. He notched a goal and an assist in his four appearances during that seven-game series. If you have the Islanders Greatest Games DVD, he's in the Bates Penalty Shot game.
Hunter's 2011-12 has been just what you'd fear after the season-ending knee surgery that was likely one reason the Islanders swapped the final two years of his contract for the final one year of Brian Rolston's:
2 goals, 5 assists in 37 games and about 10:11 TOI per game. Hunter's advanced stats indicate he at least holds serve (they were higher earlier in the year) while logging mostly fourth-line duty and getting the second-lowest O-zone starts (45%) on the Kings. But combine his familiar non-streaking foot speed and tendency to shoot (but not always on net) and you can imagine where Kings fans find his presence puzzling.
Still, he apparently still helps move the puck in the right direction, as he did when he was an Islander, and that's probably all you can ask for a fourth-line guy saddled with (even worse?) fourth-line guys.
It's not even clear Hunter will play tonight -- though you'd hope he would, if it's neither here nor there. Here are a few questions from Rich Hammond with Hunter upon his return.
Mr. Moulson-in-law Jonathan Quick was pulled after two periods in Florida, having conceded two goals on 11 shots. Last season the Islanders beat Quick 3-0, with Al Montoya getting a shutout, Frans Nielsen scoring a shorty, and Moulson potting two.
The Kings have not allowed a first-period goal in nine games.
The Kings made some roster moves, calling up Dwight King and Jordan Nolan, the son of former Islanders coach Ted Nolan. Dropped was Slava Voynov, a good young defenseman who's the victim of roster numbers for now. That's in part because Jarrett Stoll is injured. The new kids are slated to play on Mike Richards' wings. Quisp at JFTC is not impressed by that alignment.
Other than entering their third full game without top defenseman Travis Hamonic -- who at last report had metal stents in his nose -- the main lineup notes entail the possibility P.A. Parenteau and Kyle Okposo will be swapped again. That would reunite the FNGO unit, as it was in the third period vs. Montreal, and reunite Moulson and John Tavares with Parenteau.
The Islanders officially put Dylan Reese on IR yesterday thanks to his sprained MCL. That creates room for a move soon, whether it be from Bridgeport or from IR, where Marty Reasoner (hand) and Mike Mottau (concussion) remain.
There was also the hint of new defensive pairs by Jack Capuano, though no details were forthcoming. Suffice to say, Hamonic's absence creates challenges on all three pairs. Rookie Aaron Ness has done fine in his first two games, but the Isles are being careful with him which leaves the burden on the remainders. Mark Streit and Andrew MacDonald log a lot and figure out how to work with Milan Jurcina and Steve Staios.
UPDATES vis Isles and Newsday's Arthur Staple: Nabokov in, Brian Rolston back in, Rhett Rakhshani scratched. Kyle Okposo to stay on top line. Ness paired with MacDonald.
Adrian Aucoin on Kenny Jonsson
The bigger return today is Kenny Jonsson, who enters the Islanders Hall of Fame as the designee for the '00s during the 40th anniversary "Decades Nights" series.
Former partner and still active NHLer Adrian Aucoin on Jonsson: "Kenny never made mistakes. ... Probably the steadiest player I've ever played with:"
You can navigate to the five-part interview with Jonsson -- who was a goaltender until age 10 -- on the Islanders homepage and through their IslandersTV channel.
Leave your First Islanders Goal picks for today's game in this thread.
Win one for the quiet leader, boys. Jonsson did not get a lot of league-wide attention, but the man could play.