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New York Islanders vs. Montrael Canadiens Preview: Something has to give

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The Canadiens are winless in four. The Isles are winless in three. Somebody's gonna feel like crap tonight!

Need another hero tonight.
Need another hero tonight.
Richard Wolowicz

The New York Islanders finish a thus-far futile road trip in Montreal tonight and, guess what? They meet yet another slumping team!

Dear Canadiens fans, your slump-buster has arrived.

Nyi-islestickslim_medium Mon-slim_medium
Islanders (6-8-3) @ Canadiens (8-8-1)
6 p.m. EST | MSG+2 (
twice the plus!) | WRHU, WRCN
[bank or brewer or telco or something] Centre
PGI-friendly opposites:
Eyes on the Prize

The Isles and the Hockey Club from Montreal -- each of whom expect far better of themselves -- are both 3-6-1 in their last 10. The Canadiens are winless in their last four (including one shootout loss), but they at least had the decency to drop points to three hot Western teams (St. Louis, Colorado, Minnesota) and only one division rival (Ottawa) during that string.

The Islanders, in contrast, have just handed six regulation points away to Metropolitan Division teams who will need those if they're to beat the Isles and others to what might end up being only two non-division-title Metro playoff spots.

But you know that by now. The killer, beyond any complaints about "battle level" or goaltending or WHY AREN'T THE LINES LIKE I DREW THEM and such, is this:

More of the ugly numbers from Eric in his Skinny post here.

Lineup Notes and Links

Isles: So Thomas Vanek was injured last night, missing all but 23 seconds. That surely means Brock Nelson will step back into the lineup. Expect Kevin Poulin to start in front of family and friends.

Hockey Club from Montreal: If the Isles are lucky, Douglas Murray will remain in the Montreal lineup and let John Tavares resume spinning him in circles as he did in last year's playoffs. ... Montreal recalled Gabriel Dumont and he's expected to be in for George Parros; Eric Boulton will just have to focus on scrounging up another assist. ... Daniel Briere is still out with a concussion, and big hitter Alexe Emelin is also still out.

Fun read: Matt Martin on hitting, hosting the VMAs. The final line is well played by Kathryn Tappan.

Sad read: Matt Moulson revisits L.A., sees his...wait, he has a brother-in-law? Moulson's line being benched for an entire period was "the most embarrassed" he's been in his career.

Newsday Notes: No contract talks with MacDonald yet ... Garth Snow's Vanek gamble ...

Bridgeport: The Sound Tigers play this afternoon, with Bruno Gervais back in a different uniform and hard-luck Kenny Reiter trying yet again for his first AHL win.

While you're waiting for the game, and perhaps looking for ways to remember how things could be much, much worse, check out Dan's guest post at Eyes on the Prize: "Why We Hate Kirk Muller."

And speaking of looking at the big picture, the Isles have company in their misery, on the opposite coast: The previously dominant San Jose Sharks have stunk up the joint for four consecutive games, including even an Islanders-esque loss to the last-place Buffalo Sabres.

So yes, losing streaks happen to everyone; this we know. Of course, the Sharks built themselves a cushion with their great start to the season. The Isles did not and now can much less afford this slump to continue. Lubomir Visnovsky isn't returning any time soon; Vanek's prognosis is unknown. They best figure out how to live without them, and fast.

FIG Picks

Leave your First Islanders Goal picks over here. Remember, game time is an hour earlier than normal (and picks are due by game time).