The standings are tight, the schedule compact: Over the next four days the New York Islanders play three times -- including two afternoon games on the weekend and all at home, where they'll try to improve on the 11-11-5 record that parallels their 11-11-3 road record.
Hockey Club from Montreal* (21-24-9, 14th/E) @ Islanders (22-22-8, 11th/E)
7 p.m. EST | MSG+2 (twice the plus!) | Audio: NHL - WRHU
Nassau [gloriously unsponsored] Veterans Mem. Coliseum
Go, go, Gauthier: Habs Eyes on the Prize
Carolina picked up an OT point last night, meaning the four Eastern teams below the Isles (including tonight's opponent) are within two points. One of them, the Lightning, play in the city tonight. Above, the Jets are at Washington and the Leafs are in Philadelphia.
The Islanders' last two games have been disappointing overall performances, but they made it through 65 minutes in each and picked up three of four points. Tonight, like those nights, may turn on how they adjust to life without Travis Hamonic.
Hamonic's isn't the only injury concern: Dylan Reese left the Flyers game with an MCL sprain which means if Milan Jurcina isn't ready to go -- he skated yesterday -- a callup will be needed.
[Update: Capuano says Jurcina is indeed back in the lineup, and Nabokov starts again.]
Arthur Staple at Newsday had notes on that situation as well as the two key remaining UFAs Evgeni Nabokov and P.A. Parenteau. Those notes were discussed a little bit in comments for last night's late quote dump on Frans Nielsen and Nabokov. Suffice to say, I won't read too much into an agent's update with a few weeks to spare.
When these two teams last met, the Hockey Club from Montreal* was 12-11-7 and soon to fire their coach in a panic move. It hasn't had the desired effect. Their powerplay is still miserable, they still generate just over 29 shots per game overall. Interestingly, their PP ranks 30th while their PK is tops in the league. That should be a fun matchup to watch vs. the Isles powerplay -- if the refs deign to call penalties.
*Last year the Hockey Club from Montreal told the popular media site covering the Hockey Club from Montreal to take a popular nickname for the team out of their site's name. [redacted] Inside/Out became Hockey Inside/Out. Out of respect for their precious trademark, we shall not tread on it here.
Some Reading for People Who Like Reading Things
- TSN's Scott Cullen ranks the Islanders goaltending tandem 14th in the league right now. The comment is ... blunt.
- THN's Rory Boylen includes both New York GMs' on his unfairly maligned list.
- Stu Hackel covers the Hockey Club from Montreal and occasionally looks at the Isles so if he really wants to see some deeper NHL stats, someone tell him most of them are out there.
- Speaking of Hackel, here is his preview looking at the Isles for Hockey Inside/Out.
- The Islanders are still four goals away from 10,000.
- Two veterans facing big decisions: Shane Doan Situation Up in the Air - CP and Ryan Smyth's trade deadline dilemma - Yahoo
- On that note: The Hockey News: THN.com Top 10: THN.com Top 10: Players in need of a new home
- Fun: The Top 10 NHL Non-Fighter Fights | Backhand Shelf | Blogs | theScore.com
- The Hockey Club from Montreal recalled Aaron Palushaj for this game. He's a 22-year-old prospect who appeared in one of the previous meetings.
- NHL: Sidney Crosby's neck injury requires a complex explanation - ESPN
When Sites Troll for Clicks
Finally, this list really disappoints me because it's completely misleading trade deadline link bait: 5 blockbuster NHL deals that almost happened - sportsnet.ca
Let's review, shall we? 5) The Rangers didn't almost acquire Eric Lindros -- they pretty much did. Except the Nordiques had reached a deal with Philadelphia, too, so the league had to sort out which deal would be ratified. That was at the draft. 4) Pat LaFontaine wasn't almost a Red Wing -- the Isles had the earlier pick and were picking him all along. Torrey wasn't budging with that pick. Again, the draft. 3) Joe Sakic signed an offer sheet with the Rangers. Again, over the summer. The Avs matched. 2) I don't know about the Datsyuk for Gomez rumors after the lockout, but at least that was an in-season situation. 1) It's a cool story that the Rangers had a chance at Gordie Howe first, but again that's really nowhere near the connotation of "blockbuster deal" that readers expect around trade deadline time.
Around the trade deadline, fans are looking for stories about trades, usually the big mid-season kind. Not summer free agent offer sheets and draft day deals. When media use misleading headlines to Bleacher you to click, we all get stupider. Next time, why not "5 Blockbuster NHL Deals That Almost Happened Plus Free Viagra and Nudie Pics"?
Leave your First Islanders Goal Picks in this thread for tonight's game. Last time, the people who picked shutout won ... and saw an Isles win.