The New York Islanders host the Phoenix Coyotes tonight, with one pending roster move being conservatively punted for another day or injury. Cal Clutterbuck, nearing his escape from IR after a freak leg laceration in the first preseason game, isn't coming back just yet.
Whether everyone makes it through tonight's game (and this week's practices) unscathed probably determines whether his imminent return will bump someone off the 23-man roster for Friday's game in Chicago.
Phoenix's Paul Bissonnette is still suspended, so there was always little risk of the lineups featuring the enforcer-cancel-enforcer routine, and Jack Capuano was happy with his lineup in the first two games, so a change involving Eric Boulton was unlikely anyway. That lineup:
26 Matt Moulson – 91 John Tavares – 21 Kyle Okposo
12 Josh Bailey – 51 Frans Nielsen – 40 Michael Grabner
29 Brock Nelson – 16 Peter Regin – 96 Pierre-Marc Bouchard
17 Matt Martin – 53 Casey Cizikas – 13 Colin McDonald
47 Andrew MacDonald – 3 Travis Hamonic
11 Lubomir Visnovsky – 14 Thomas Hickey
37 Brian Strait – 46 Matt Donovan
...With Evgeni Nabokov due his third consecutive start in goal.
The Coyotes, now enjoying some location stability for the first time in five years -- hey, just like the Isles! -- are on the second game of a five-game coast-to-coast road swing that began with an abysmal 5-1 thumping in San Jose where Mike Smith made 47 saves. Their widely respected coach, Dave Tippett, called tape of the game "a horror film." Our fellow SB Nation-based fans at Five For Howling are looking for summer free-agent signing Mike Ribeiro to earn his ducats.
Tippett was hoping injury questions Oliver Ekman-Larsson and Derek Morris would be ready to play tonight despite "upper body" injuries.
Tippett's reputation is as a defensive coach, but Lubomir Visnovsky remembers him from their shared time in Los Angeles differently: "He loves the offensive style. He loves the players who can skate and puckhandle."
Meanwhile, from the same Isles game preview, Frans Nielsen approaches an unfamiliar team according to the Book of Frans:
"I think we’re good enough to be able to go out and play our game and not worry too much about who we’re playing against. We have a good enough team that we should be able to beat any team if we play our best."
These teams last met at the Coliseum in December 2010, which ended with Phoenix getting two points by, yes, of course, the shootout. How long ago was that? It was Nathan Lawson's debut. How time flies. At least the goaltending questions have been ... ah, never mind.
If you haven't already, leave your First Islanders Goal picks in this thread.
More from Lighthouse Hockey:
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- Islanders (and Ex-Isles) News: Who's dumped for Clutterbuck, and why was Laviolette dumped?
- [Bits] Sound Tigers Highlights Cap Shootout Weekend for Islanders
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