After a riveting finish to last night's regulation win in Pittsburgh, the New York Islanders came back home to take on Pennsylvania's other team, the one at the opposite end of the standings, the one that has already fired its coach and has yet to solve its scoring slump.
The Philadelphia Flyers power play has struggled mightily -- they practiced it extensively at today's morning skate -- and no doubt their new power play quarterback would like nothing better than to get that unit on track against his former team.
This is Mark Streit's first appearance against the Islanders and at the Coliseum in a Flyers uniform, a fact Dan captured perfectly with this tribute to Streit's Isles tenure.
[IslesTV also talks to Streit a little at the end of this game preview video.]
But of course, Streit is gone because hockey is a business (one where old men are still rewarded handsomely in some quarters), and now it's time for the Isles to get to the business of stomping on a struggling division rival.
The Flyers' power play hasn't just been unproductive -- a jaw dropping 8 percent efficiency -- it's been objectively poor, sitting deep in the bottom third of the league in terms of shots generated (a rate of 44.7 shots per 60 min. at 5-on-4).
In contrast, the Islanders power play has been ridiculously hot, converting on a league-high 30.3 percent of its chances. As always, none of these extreme figures will remain that way -- 30 is too high, 8 is too low for an NHL team over 82 games. But they represent something real and could easily be the story tonight.
How struggling are these Flyers? Their leading scorer (Brayden Schenn) has five points. Their second, Tye McGinn, leads them with three goals and was just sent back to the AHL. That's because Scott Hartnell is now returning after three games missed to injury.
They've yet to score three goals in a game -- man, that would stink if the Isles changed that -- and they're averaging a Sabres-like 1.44 goals scored per game. Their offensive start puts them in historically bad company.
On the bright side, they've solved their decades-long goalie probl-- oh, I can't write that with a straight face. But the Flyers did dispatch the Rangers, 2-1, so in that sense they have done Bossy's work.
The Flyers and Islanders will both continue experiments in goal tonight: Philadelphia will continue to test whether Steve Mason is back to being an NHL goaltender. The Isles will continue testing whether Kevin Poulin can ever be one. Mason, to his credit, has continued his nice post-trade finish to last season by being fine thus far (.930 save percentage, .929 at even strength). Poulin gets his second start of the season.
Other lineup changes: Well let's just start with the fact Brock Nelson was the only Islander on ice at today's morning skate... Yes, he's a scratch as Michael Grabner returns from suspension, but then there's something else: The Isles have also scratched a fourth-liner in Colin McDonald, although you wonder if that's a relic from the injury that caused him to miss a game last week.
With McDonald out...Eric Boulton reappears. We had fun betting on who would sit after Grabner returns, but I doubt many expected both Nelson and McDonald. Initial guess is that Boulton is in because Flyers.
The defense remains the same, which means Thomas Hickey continues to survive the broken nose Kyle Okposo gave him last night.
One more note about Streit, because it was funny the first time, via the brilliant minds at Sportsnet:
"The 35-year-old Swiss defenceman is playing for a contender for the first time in his NHL career as he begins his four-year US$21-million contract with the Philadelphia Flyers."
Wrong about the present, wrong about history.
Finally, something cool and mind-boggling about tonight:
Godspeed, man. As fun as that job sounds, it is never-ending, tireless work.
Leave your First Islanders Goal picks in this thread. Grabner is back.
More from Lighthouse Hockey:
- Streit as an Arrow: Ex-Islanders Captain Returns as a Flyer
- [Bits] Don't Think. Just Do.
- Recap - New York Islanders 4, Pittsburgh Penguins 3: Bailey, Bouchard, Nielsen Late Heroes
- New York Islanders vs. Philadelphia Flyers: Ex-captain Mark Streit returns to Nassau Coliseum
- Rick DiPietro Signs with Carolina (Checkers. On a PTO.)