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Islanders vs. Penguins Gameday: Do it for Bridgeport

Even when a playoff spot is long gone (realistically if not yet quite fully mathematically), there is news. Always something going on in Islanders country.

On top of last night's news with the Isles shaking the dust off John Grahame so he can finish out the year as Al Montoya's backup -- enabling Kevin Poulin, called up last night on emergency recall, to ultimately return for Bridgeport's playoff push -- we also have news today of David Ullstrom being returned to Bridgeport.

Nyi-islestickslim_medium Pit-slim_medium
Islanders (32-33-11, 13th/E) @ Penguins (47-23-6, 2nd/E, #4)
7 p.m. EDT | MSG+ | Audio: NHL -
Nassau [
gloriously unsponsored, unstatued] Veterans Mem. Coliseum
Flipping Pensburgers:

I'm going to take a wild stab here and say this is a favor to Mitch and Murray the Sound Tigers, who excelled with Ullstrom and Casey Cizikas in the lineup but stalled with those two forwards getting promotions. Ullstrom has made his case and positioned himself nicely for a bottom-six role next season; now he can go finish what got him there by helping a playoff team.

Also: Re-enter Nino Niederreiter. Make your case now, but next season it could be you earning your way up from Bridgeport, the way the gods who don't own CHL teams intended it.

Lineup Notes, and the 2-3-1 Atlantic

Yes, the above means Niederreiter is back in and Al Montoya is your starter -- probably for the rest of the year with Evgeni Nabokov's injury, which sure appeared to be aggravated by Chris Kunitz's stick.

Michael Fornabaio at has the practice day notes for the Sound Tigers, who play three-in-three this weekend.

For the Penguins, Kris Letang remains out, and Marc-Andre Fleury says he's fine after he dive-bombed an ill-advised pokecheck on Frans Nielsen that led Paul Martin to take his head off and led Nielsen to leave forehand judgment in its wake.

Tell me if you ever expected this year's Penguins to worry about doing more defending and less out-gunning after a game vs. the Islanders. That makes tonight a little more interesting.

In their five meetings so far this season, the Penguins have outshot the Islanders 182-132 and outscored them 20-10. Strangely, another win over the Pens tonight would make the Islanders 2-3-1 against every Atlantic opponent this year except the Devils (2-3-0, one more meeting remaining).

This and That and FanShots

After watching him make knee-jerk move after knee-jerk move, now the Hockey Club from Montreal fires Pierre Gauthier. Bob Gainey, who kind of hand-picked Gauthier as his successor, is also gone. Classic Habs note via Bob McKenzie:

Molson said his preference is to hire GM who can speak French, but organization will consider all of the best people available.

Habs Eyes on the Prize says it was inevitable, but isn't exactly happy it took so long:

Instead of looking at the process, he looked at the results. Instead of noticing the team was playing very well, outshooting and carrying the play in the vast majority of games, he panicked. He fired an assistant coach for a PP that was one of the league's best in shot production but the worst in shooting percentage, a notoriously fickle stat. At this point, he notoriously claimed that the team had to start "thinking outside the box." It was a statement that would become a haunting one for Canadiens fans, as it changed the direction of the team from one of patience and discipline to one of impulse decisions based on emotion.

FIG Picks

Leave your First Islanders Goal picks for tonight's game in this thread. Your leaders with five games to go:

38 - Captdallas
38 - skeeterman
36 - Pretty Good Idiot
33 - mike in mi
31 - Dougtone