The New York Islanders won't be playing any critical games this spring, but they have prospects in several leagues already playing do-or-die matches, beginning (or in many cases continuing) this weekend.
Before we get to the prospects in action as early as this afternoon, some further Isles-related media:
Mark Streit on the captaincy [Newsday]
Evgeni Nabokov talking contract and why he re-signed [XM].
The Islanders have some player quotes about the re-signing as well. There's clearly a PR message there -- once players arrive, they look to stay -- but it can't be denied that the players, well, are staying. They believe in each other. We'll see if little by little that helps draw a beyond-depth free agent from the outside.
Want some creative Isles-inspired tees? Interesting new shop here: Tristate Co-Op. (Not officially endorsed by LHH, official legalese, yada yada hocus pocus.)
CHL Playoffs Under Way
In the OHL, Ryan Strome notched a goal in the first few minutes of Game 1 as Niagara destroyed Oshawa 8-2. Mitchell Theoret was a healthy scratch. Game 2 is tonight.
UPDATE: Just because he was scratched doesn't mean Theoret can't rock a, um, special hair cut.
Andrei Pedan begins playoff action tonight as Guelph opens at Plymouth.
In the QMJHL, Kirill Kabanov's Shawinigan team is host with an automatic Memorial Cup bid. So they don't need to win out to keep playing, but that'd be just dandy if they did. They're the #2 seed playing host to the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies in Game 1 tonight.
Brenden Kichton and Spokane begin their playoffs tonight in Vancouver and "real NHL coach" Don Hay. Here are some keys to that series.. Kichton was named a First Team All-Star in the WHL's Western Conference.
NCAA This Weekend: Mayfield, Nelson
The NCAA tournament kicks off this weekend with 16 teams vying to make it to the Frozen Four.
First up as far as Islanders interests go, Scott Mayfield and his Denver U. squad take on Ferris State this afternoon at 4:30 p.m. Central Daylight Time. That's the Midwest Regional in Green Bay, and the winner will meet either Cornell or Michigan.
In the West Regional in St. Paul, the Squad Formerly Known as Fighting Sioux and Brock Nelson take on former "real NHL coach" Andy Murray's Western Michigan at 12:30 p.m. Central Daylight Time Saturday. The winner faces either Boston U. or Minnesota, the regional host.
Check Western Hockey College Blog for a collection of links for NCAA previews. And the SB Nation hub has a dedicated story stream with previews of each of the regionals.
Finally, this doesn't have an Isles connection exactly, but the Bridgeport Sound Tigers are still on the road because the East Regional (Union vs. Michigan State, Miami vs. Massachussets-Lowell) is being held at the [bank of some sort] Arena in Bridgeport.
Tonight the Sound Tigers try to break a five-game regulation losing streak in Springfield. Sunday, they're finally back home with a bit matchup against the Whale. They enter the weekend four points behind Connecticut for the division lead.
Sweden: Johan Sundstrom's Frölunda was dumped from the playoffs in six games by Brynäs.
Some other fun reads from around the NHL:
As mentioned when Bruce Ratner parachuted into the MSG telecast, Isles-Devils tickets in Brooklyn go on sale March 29.
Green jerseys in the Isles locker room.
For the soccer fans: Behind the Net takes on the EPL.
From the same minds: The Best Hitters in the NHL -- Forwards - Arctic Ice Hockey
Good: Winter Classic Fight Suspect to Face Trial | NBC 10 Philadelphia
Finally, this is an interesting read on how well-intended plans can break down for a variety of reasons: Over the summer I hoped the Isles would make a play for Marcel Goc or Joel Ward -- not because of Playoff Hot Streak Joel Ward, but because of Productive Bottom-Six Grinder Joel Ward. The Islanders needed better bottom-six forwards, and Ward would've helped. Washington got him, overpaid a little on salary and term, and as Japers' Rink analyzes, it's been a tough year for both parties. Similarly (yet worse) tough year for the fourth-line upgrade the Isles did sign, Marty Reasoner. On a related note, Zenon Konopka has appeared in four games this month for the Senators.