After the Devils responded to a 1-0 Sunday loss to the Islanders with a 5-1 thumping Thursday night -- and a scrumptious beating of the Rangers squeezed between -- we return to the Coliseum to finish this odd Isles-Devils trilogy. Thankfully this series isn't determined by goal difference.
Devils (38-24-5, 5th/E (6th seed)) @ Islanders (28-30-9, 14th/E)
7 p.m. EST (last ST this year) | MSG+ | Audio: NHL - WRHU
Nassau [gloriously unsponsored] Veterans Mem. Coliseum
It's not a trap!: In Lou We Trust
In tonight's start, the first of a back-to-back weekend, the Islanders will turn to "Thor" -- big Anders Nilsson -- who became the first Islanders goaltender to get his first win by shutout in Sunday's nailbiter. It appears Matt Martin, who left Thursday's game either with flu or food poisoning, will stay out of the lineup, and Dylan Reese will slot in for Milan Jurcina after Jurcina had a clumsy game Thursday. One would deduce that Michael Grabner steps back in.
[UPDATE: Grabner is back in, but so is ... MICHEAL HALEY. Casey Cizikas exits (flu), Josh Bailey slides back to center.]
Series So Far
In four games so far this series (including their two November encounters, where the Devils won 1-0 in one, while Grabner scored and Al Montoya got the win in the other), John Tavares has zero points in 21:21 average TOI. Expect that will change. ... Their powerplay has been 0-for-14 against the Devils, their PK killing off just 7 of 9.
Links: Snow on Nino, Offensive Needs
- Josh Bailey on former Windsor linemate and current Devil Adam Henrique: "I cheer for him 76 games a year."
- Henrique, by the way, believes in his Calder candidacy.
- Interesting read for the stat fans: Is Ilya Kovalchuk's perceived all-around improvement...an improvement? [Driving Play]
- Cool bit on Bryce Salvador, who missed all of last season.
- NCAA playoff results last night: Brock Nelson's North Dakota won 4-1 ... Scott Mayfield and host Denver lost to a very tough 10-seed Wisconsin 1-0 ... Anders Lee tied his game for Notre Dame late, but Michigan won it in OT.
Dee Karl had some sit-down time with Garth Snow and Jack Capuano (separately, both in that link). Snow on Nino Niederreiter:
"Nino -- whether he plays 50 games, 60 games, it doesn’t really matter to us the number of games because we have practices on a daily basis providing him an opportunity to work with our coaching staff to become a better player. Sometimes the quantity of games doesn’t serve a young player well."
Capuano on getting consistent efforts and not having "passengers":
"That room at this time of year is key. They have to come together as a group with the leadership that they have, and not just coaches that are holding players accountable. But the most important thing is players have to hold themselves accountable for each other."
Before drawing conclusions on either of the pull-quotes above, you should go read their full context, where you'll find more on those and other questions.
Finally, it's always intrigued me a little that the NHL heads into this summer under current CBA rules while the CBA's expiration date is Sept. 15. It apparently intrigues GMs too, since they'll likely enter July 1 with a higher cap and then potentially enter future seasons with a lower cap (if owners get that concession).
Regulars (and newcomers -- it's never too late to join the pool), leave your First Islanders Goal picks in this thread. No one had Andrew MacDonald last game, so the leaderboard remains the same.