Probably more important to you than tonight's game: Arthur Staple reports that Anders Lee has informed the Islanders he will stay at Notre Dame for next season. Lee is a "loophole" guy, but we'll see if that loophole still exists in the next CBA. We'll also see if the two entities in question actually create a new CBA.
The New York Islanders and Toronto Maple Leafs face off tonight with little on the line and complementary problems.
On a per game rate, the Islanders through 72 games have decreased their shots against and goals against since last season ... but their goal output has declined in 2011-12 as well. The Leafs through 73 games have upped the offense ... and the goals against, too, despite reducing their shots allowed.
Islanders (29-32-11, 14th/E) @ Maple Leafs (32-33-8, 12th/E)
7 p.m. EDT | MSG+2 (twice the plus!) | Audio: NHL - WRHU
[one of them flyin' businesses] Center
Pension and Media Property Puppetry: Pension Plan Puppets
The Islanders are on pace to slightly improve on last year's standings points total of 73. The Leafs are set for a points decline. Neither, of course, is enough to avoid meaningless March games like this one.
The Islanders are shooting the same but scoring less. The Leafs are shooting the same but scoring more. (Their powerplay is more productive this year.) They're also getting shot at less but still giving up more.
*For this PDO I combined their 5-on-5 shooting and save pct.
I don't have anything brilliant to add about all that (shock!), I just thought the teams' respective output was worth checking at this stage of the season. The Islanders entered the season thinking offense was a strength, but reality and/or the focus on reducing the shots-against barrage has neutered that.
The Leafs opened the season scoring like dynamos but that inevitable regression and breakdowns on the back end have let them down. Ron Wilson never was able to fix the PK, or at least not soon enough, before the ax fell on him. Brian Burke publicly said they'd look for goalie help at the trade deadline and added no one.
Tonight the teams meet for pride and to dodge last place in the East, while their fans do that guilty dance with eyes cast covetously at the June draft -- the kind of dance that brings out metaphors and gifs of armored vehicles.
Funny Quote from the Aftermath
"I have never really seen anything like that. I'm not sure why one team has an advantage." -- Leafs goalie James Reimer on Boston's domination of Toronto
Heh, there are ideas as to why. The Leafs were slaughtered 8-0 in Boston last night. Expect a more inspired performance tonight.
Also amusing (but before that slaughter): Claude Julien saying "You're starting to see [Randy Carlyle's] imprint on the team." And how! (Yes, that's unfair. The timing is still funny. I suspect we'll see a better Carlyle "imprint" tonight.)
Lineup and Silly Notes
Evgeni Nabokov is back in net. The forwards stay the same (Jay Pandolfo scratched). Seven defensemen will warm up, but Steve Staios is the lower body in jeopardy.
For the Leafs, injuries are not an excuse yada yada yada but the've lost Joffrey Lupul and that's kind of a big deal. (The Islanders haven't had as significant an injury this season, have they? For once.)
From the Isles and stat man Eric Hornick:
John Tavares is on the verge of making more Islanders history. With one more point, he will be one of only three players in Islanders history have recorded at least 71 points at age 21 or younger. All have banners hanging at the Coliseum: Mike Bossy, Bryan Trottier and Denis Potvin.
Sorry, Burkie. Hands off.
Matt Martin was apparently deprived of the torture that is Full House.
- Milan Jurcina: Leopard print skate guards.
- Toronto media: They're as bad as Columbus! Reasoned writers: Um, no.
Not about Tonight
- Graham James: Two years.
- I am fascinated by the CBA, NHL-KHL poker and the Alexander Radulov situation so I tried to assemble those themes here. Just think there are a lot of scenarios to be considered.
- Patrick Roy back to the hockey club from Montreal, episodic rumor 330.
FIG Picks for Tonight
Leave your First Islanders Goal picks in this thread.