The Pittsburgh Penguins have one regulation loss since Feb. 21. Also: Just one of the other kind of "loss" in the other 15 games during this period. The New York Islanders have three regulation wins in that same span. So this home-and-home should be fun.
One bonus, if you can call it that, to the Penguins' run is that they have pressed the Rangers for the division title, meaning they just might make the Smurfs lose their months-old lead and drop to the 4th seed for playoff purposes.
Of course for Islanders fans of contemporary vintage, that's small consolation. Something akin to watching North Korea and Iran coin flip over the spoils of a post-apocalyptic North America. (Should an asteroid or other calamity devastate the continent during this home-and-home, I apologize in advance for this "too soon" reference.)
The hope for Isles fans during this two-game set is that they don't see Marc-Andre Fleury both times, because Fleury has been Good Fleury much of this season.
As your friends in the hockey media have taken great pains to inform you, Sidney Crosby is at Concussion Level: Green and back playing healthily and productively for the Pens. He's been between Matt "Born Again" Cooke and Tyler Kennedy, but the most interesting part of his return was something Dan Bylsma detailed before Comeback #2: Placing him on the powerplay point. This was to integrate him into an already functioning powerplay where Evgeni Malkin has taken control of the customary spot on the half boards. (Some fun diagrams with colorful arrows here.)
The Penguins have some minor injuries -- well, losing Kris Letang isn't "minor" but it's not clear if it's lengthy -- so Simon Despres and Brian Strait have been recalled. Brent Johnson is hurt, so maybe he and Rick DiPietro can play-fight in rehab.
Nothing yet to say about the Islanders lineup, other than we'll find out who the scratches of the day are. [Update via Staple: Same as last game. Eaton and Nino sit.]
Steve Staios is five games from 1,000. The Islanders are winless in four meetings with the Penguins this year. Including DiPietro's shootout cameo, they have used four different goalies in those games.
P.A. Parenteau says his agent is likely to resume contract talks with Garth Snow this week. [Newsday] Staple points out a couple of defensive mistakes in recent games as his flaws, but I'd say a much bigger concern is his penalties and/or the fact referees do not give him the benefit of the doubt. Over a season, Parenteau's defensive work holds up fine.
Ryan Strome's playoffs are going okay. He's OHL Player of the Week.
Micheal Haley's AHL suspension for the post-penalty box fight with Mike Moore is over. That and other updates in Michael Fornabaio's chat today at 1:30. (Yes, that was a Micheal, a Mike and a Michael all in one note.)
But who needs Haley when you have KOS-KI-NEN! KOS-KI-NEN!:
Call him up Garth!!1
Update: Per Juho in comments below, Mikko Koskinen and his aggressor draw 1-game suspensions each. You might also enjoy Juho's comments on that KalPa playoff series in Sunday's post.
- Strange night in the NHL last night: Six games, zero overtimes or shootouts. Costly losses for Winnipeg (just about done) and Colorado (only four games left).
- Now go check out the Jason Spezza moves on Kyle Turris' goal here. Excellent and hilarious, with all five Jets skaters caught ball-watching.
- Granted his defense was of no help, but my goodness Steve Mason got lit up again last night, this time at Detroit's hands. Jack Johnson skated over 31 minutes.
- Your list of college players who have signed since their seasons ended.
- Humor: Down Goes Brown: Who will win the Masterton Trophy?
- Tragedy: Being a ref ain’t easy: compiling some of the worst no-goal calls of the past few years | Backhand Shelf
- Is that so wrong? ECHL leading scorer suspended after allegedly stealing taxi cab outside bar | Puck Daddy - Yahoo! Sports
- 30 Thoughts: Quebec arena announcement ends strange week + 30 thoughts | Friedman
From those 30 Thoughts:
23. It went under the radar, but what a big move it was for the Islanders to get Evgeni Nabokov under contract for another year. Remember when they took him on waivers? He wouldn't talk to Garth Snow and initially refused to report. If you can get guys to change their minds like that, people notice. His family likes it there, which is always a bonus.
Leave your First Islanders Goal picks for tonight's game here. It's a good battle at the top, but by golly I think I've got a late final push in me.