I know it's Sunday. But if the Islanders five game road trip was a work week, tonight's game against the Jets would be Wednesday. That's right, hump day!
Tonight's game against Winnipeg marks the key to the Isles road trip. Not to slight the Jets in any way, but when the final two games of your trip against division rivals Pittsburgh and New Jersey, this game is an important get for the Islanders.
Winnipeg won't make it easy for them though. After losing their opening game, the Jets haven't lost in regulation since, including a shootout loss to the Bruins and an impressive 4-2 victory over the Penguins on Saturday.
Even strength will be the key:
The Jets under Claude Noel have been the most disciplined team in the NHL this season. Winnipeg has surrendered an NHL low 9 power plays to the opposition.
On our side of the ice, the Islanders are only one of two teams that have not given up a power play goal yet this season (Friday's opponent Boston is the other). The Isles are 13 for 13 on the penalty kill coming into tonight's game.
Okay we lost a game. Lineup changes, now? Please:
Even my mother has seen enough of Joe Finley, but has Jack Capuano? For the first time this year, Finley was "directly" responsible for a goal being let up. Besides a fight that happened 1 second into the Tampa Bay game, you can't say Finley has brought anything to the table for the Islanders.
So tonight Islanders fans will get their wish and see Thomas Hickey in the lineup in place of Finley. We'll also see Eric Boulton play instead of Casey Cizikas.
For those wanting Marty Reasoner scratched, Cizikas has been playing the wing on the 4th line. So the substitution of him for Boulton makes a little sense...I guess.
All signs pointed to Ondrej Pavelec being in goal again for the Jets tonight. But Noel decided to play the goalie who is familiar with the Islanders, and will play ex-Isle Al Montoya instead (to my delight)
For the Islanders, we'll see the return of Evgeni Nabokov tonight. While not sharp against Toronto, he still is the Isles #1 goalie, and a better option than that other guy on the roster.
He's Coming Home:
Travis Hamonic returns to his hometown of Winnipeg for the second time in his NHL career. Hamonic missed the Islanders last trip to Manitoba, but in his one appearance there, Hamonic logged nearly 29 minutes of ice time in an Isles 3-2 shootout victory.
FIG-gy Pudding: Make your "educated" guesses here. All Aucoin-bandwagoners will be subject to approval. Boulton choosers will win a double pat on the back.