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Islanders Gameday: Key 5-game trip begins with Maple Leafs

Yeah, sure, it's early. But this road trip is a major test that will set the tone for the New York Islanders' lockout-shortened season.

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Sweet home, Toronto.
Sweet home, Toronto.
Tom Szczerbowski-US PRESSWIRE

I don't want to say that this is a pivotal road trip for the New York Islanders.

But this is a pivotal road trip for the New York Islanders. They know in their comments that they still operate with a thin margin of error, with talk of needing their "best effort" on a "consistent" basis to accumulate wins. Off nights will not luck into many wins for them.

So now begins a five-game road trip, with three games and three border crossings in the next four days. Tonight in Toronto may be their best chance, as they take on a team that played last night (a most pleasing thumping of the Pittsburgh Penguins), and John Tavares "loves playing in Toronto and beating the Leafs."

Yeah, that looks fun, I guess.

Nyi-yslim_medium Tor-slim_medium
Islanders (1-1) @ Maple Leafs (2-1)
7 p.m. EDT | MSG+
| Audio: NHL - WRHU
[one of them flyin' outfits] Centere
Pension Publishing Properties Puppetry:
Pension Plan Puppets

After tonight, it's back over the border to Boston for their first back-to-back of the season. Then it's back into Canada and as far West as they'll go this season for a Sunday visit to the Southeast [sic] Division [sic] Winnipeg Jets. Then it's off to Pittsburgh for a Tuesday night match that will appear on NBCrosby Sports Network. Thinks finish up closer to home Thursday, taking on the Devils in Newark.

Fortunately, all bodies are [KNOCK ON WOOD] still healthy, and it looks like they'll use the same lineup, including starter Evgeni Nabokov, that won 4-3 over the Tampa Bay Lightning Monday afternoon. If Rick DiPietro doesn't get one of the games on the first three of this trip, it will speak volumes.

The Leafs can't say the same: They lost Joffrey Lupul with a broken forearm, so Matt Frattin gets the callup which means the Islanders players in charge of Ruckus Prevention shall be on watch.

(Aside: Frattin has produced well in the AHL, but you know who leads the Toronto Marlies in scoring? Isles third-line center Keith Aucoin. Ain't lockouts fun?)

So what's up with the suddenly Burkeless, more corporate, less truculent Leafs? Check back in a bit for a Q&A with PPP from the Leafs therapy site Pension Plan Puppets.

FIG Picks

Leave your First Islanders Goal picks here. For future reference, the FIG threads go up in the FanShot section usually the day before each game.