There were some interesting signs in the Coliseum stands when Kirk Muller returned as coach of the Carolina Hurricanes. I can only imagine what welcome is in store for the organism behind the Washington Capitals bench tonight.
With the season drifting away and a three-goal game being cause for a party, for one night fans can focus on a side motivation like the opposing coach to beg Fortune's favor for a win. The way the team is playing, it will take a late acquisition of the lead, good special teams and bounces. Sweet bounces. For the love of Pierre Turgeon, gimme some of that.
Capitals (35-28-6, 8th/E) @ Islanders (28-31-10, 14th/E)
7 p.m. EST | MSG+ | Audio: NHL - WRHU
Nassau [gloriously unsponsored] Veterans Mem. Coliseum
Club in Crisis?: Japers' Rink
This sort of thing is too fresh given the gut-punch losses of last weekend, but last meeting saw the Isles fall victim to a kind of late two-goal comeback the Capitals hadn't pulled off in decades. The encounter before that was Evgeni Nabokov's shutout and what could be the only two-goal game of pass-first P.A. Parenteau's career.
Isles Notes and Mourning
If you missed it yesterday, the emergency recalls of Micheal Haley and Anders Nilsson ended, putting both back in Bridgeport. That means Al Montoya is ready again, but there remains a scratch decision to be made at both forward and defense.
The Islanders know they need to better "in a lot of areas," but we'll see what if anything is done about it.
UPDATE - Lineup Note: P.A. Parenteau is out with the proverbial upper body injury. Lines for tonight:
From Eric Hornick's The Skinny:
Isles are now 15-1-7 when leading after 2 periods (winning 65.2% of the games). That's the lowest percentage in the NHL this season and the worst since St. Louis went 13-8-5 (winning only 50% of the games) when leading after 2 in 2005-06.
Islander records when leading after 2 in recent playoff seasons:
29-1-5 in 2006-07
28-1-5 in 2002-03
30-0-5 in 2001-02.
On average, NHL teams win 6 out of every 7.
Other than that though, the play was just lovely. (Aside: I remember that 05-06 Blues season all too well. Ug. Lee.)
- The Capitals sit in the eighth seed right now, but more importantly: just a point behind Southeast-leading Florida. With the Sabres just two points behind Washington, there's still a shooter's chance only one SE team makes it.
- Semin on, Semin off: The annual "can he be consistent?" and "will he be here next year?" topic.
- The coverage has focused on veteran Mike Knuble's frequent scratches, but recently it's been Jeff Halpern, their best faceoff guy, who's sat out. Mike Green is still serving a suspension.
- More than you ever wanted to know about how GM George McPhee feels about Alex Ovechkin.
Links of a Marginally Informative Nature
- Didn't post this yesterday, but Scott Mayfield's Denver did make it through to the next round in NCAA playoffs. Needed OT to decide the three-game series against visiting Wisconsin.
- I trust you're as shocked as we are that the Penguins organization could employ such a player. They just don't do such things.
- At the GM meetings, hybrid icing has momentum, as does disallowing hand passes in the D-zone. Reinstalling the red line does not. Any thoughts or preferences here? Hybrid has sounded like a no-brainer ever since it was conceived. The hand pass was first allowed because they thought it provided under-pressure defensemen an easy way to get a whistle, so they'd need some form of punishment, it seems.
Leave your First Islanders Goal picks for this game here. A link to the season's leaderboard is also in that link. As the season winds down, still plenty of room for movement. Which is more than you can say for the fabled playoff push.