At what point do we read Bridgeport's surprising post-New Year surge as a bright sign for the future? While the Islanders squeezed out an OT win yesterday, the Sound Tigers cruised to an 8-1 victory, with Ty Wishart picking up two goals and Micheal Haley picking up three. [Note: With two matinees this weekend, our weekly prospect update is deferred till tomorrow.]
Islanders (23-23-8, 13th/E) vs. Panthers (26-17-11, 7th/E)
3 p.m. EST | MSG+ | Audio: NHL - WRHU
Nassau [gloriously unsponsored] Veterans Mem. Coliseum
The Cats' Meow: Litter Box Cats
After a demoralizing loss to Southeast title rival Washington, the Panthers have reeled off two good wins in a row. Yesterday New Jersey was the victim, leaving the Panthers two points ahead of the now-9th place Caps.
On the Island, the Islanders' search for an answer to their bottom six puzzle continues, with Brian Rolston returning from hiatus yesterday and Rhett Rakhshani taking the healthy scratch. Today is another day, a day that comes all too quickly after yesterday's physically demanding contest.
The Islanders could make it a very significant weekend if they picked up another two points today. But their last three games, without Travis Hamonic, have indicated it will be a struggle at times. Yesterday was ultimately a little better -- to say nothing of the win -- and Aaron Ness logged a young-career-high 18:23, all at even strength.
I had a good time last night trading notes with my Minnesota Gopher friend -- I like to chirp him when Kyle Okposo has a goal -- about Aaron Ness and how his game could translate to the pros. "He just plays smart. That's why I liked him," my friend said. "He's got smarts. Unlike Erik Johnson."
The Hockey Club from Montreal kept the 8th seed bar low yesterday by absolutely destroying the 8th-place Maple Leafs 8-0. Their win, Tampa Bay's win and Winnipeg's loss means the crowd from 8 to 14 just gets tighter. Here's to hoping the whole bubble gets more crowded, just for the fun of it. The Islanders jumped from 14th to 11th back to 13th yesterday. All in a day's insanity.
Overall, the Panthers are starting to get healthier after a spate of tough injuries, and old friend Sean Bergenheim has returned to form to tally 10 goals in 33 games.
Mark Streit on the Comeback Trail:
I thought that I’m coming around, that I’ve played better. It took me a while to adjust, I was away for a year and a half. The first forty games was kind of a bumpy ride. I had some really good games and then some tougher games. Just not the consistency I was looking for...
Nabby stole the day yesterday. Dare the Islanders go back-to-back again with the hot, but old, hand?
The Islanders lost to the Panthers twice back in October, back when we thought losses to such teams were missed opportunities. Time to try again.
Links to Inform, Links to Entertain
- P.A. Parenteau in Newsday, clearly wanting both to stay on Long Island and also to get a nice "only big [contract] left" for his still-young career.
- Newsday's recap of yesterday has lots of "this is playoff hockey" talk. No margin for error.
- Final of the three from Newsday: No worries, Matt Martin's alright after that awkward crash into the boards.
- From yesterday's festivities: Kenny Jonsson Ceremony Video - NHL VideoCenter - NY Islanders
- Hey look, Tavares is underrated: NHL's most underrated players - Yahoo! Sports Video
- Yes, 11 ENG allowed will play a big part in the Isles' minus-18 in the third period.
- Audio of Mike Bossy on the Obnoxious & Blowhard Show.
Around the NHL:
- Hey look again, this could be really useful: NHL Injuries and Scratches 2005-06 to Present - Arctic Ice Hockey
- Also really useful: Percentages & PDO: Home and Away - Arctic Ice Hockey
- The Rangers own the Flyers (how many losses in a row is that for the Flyers to the metro teams?), and Kimmo Timonen rips his team's effort.
- Heh: The NHL’s worst powerplay specialists (things Scott Gomez is not good at) | Backhand Shel
- Leafs a plenty: How Mats Sundin’s no-trade clause controversy made fans reconsider loyalty in NHL | Puck Daddy and Bitter Leaf Fan Page: NHL Fines and Suspensions (aka $2500 and an alligator purse)
- Another angle on an important point, from our pal (You are my pal, aren't you Danny? Hmm? Hmm?) Neil Greenberg: On the randomness of plus/minus - Japers' Rink
- Who here remembers Rendez-vous '87? I not only remember it, I loved every minute of it, and I can still hear ESPN's Tom Meese saying, "Rendez-vous '87 in Quebec City."
Leave your First Islanders Goal picks for today's game in this thread.