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New York Islanders vs. Tampa Bay Lightning Preview: No Stamkos, no Hedman, no problem?

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Let's really try to win THIS one, guys.

Obviously the Isles miss Joensuu.
Obviously the Isles miss Joensuu.
Bruce Bennett

Coming off their third consecutive home overtime loss -- separated by a 1-4 road trip -- the New York Islanders will ice the same lineup as in the 1-0 OT defeat to Montreal.

That means Evgeni Nabokov is in net again, Colin McDonald and Matt Carkner are scratched, and Casey Cizikas remains out with his jaw bludgeoning, even though he had returned to practice.

Tb-slim_medium Nyi-islestickslim_medium
Lightning (19-11-3, 3rd/Atl) @ Islanders (9-19-6, 8th/Met)
7 p.m. EST | MSG+ | WRHU/WRCN
Nassau [gloriously unsponsored] Veterans Mem. Coliseum
Electric Slide: Raw Charge

This is the teams' first meeting of the season, and for a change the Isles get a team that is wounded and off its earlier peak form. No longer leading the NEW Atlantic but still playing well -- their shot/possession numbers are actually trending upward -- they are nonetheless out with two key players that will make an Islanders loss feel all the more deflating.

If it can get any more deflating.

For the Lightning:

  • Steven Stamkos is still out, but is scarily close to returning before the Olympics
  • Ageless wonder Martin St. Louis has 31 points in 33 games
  • Viktor Hedman is still out, but might return later this week
  • B.J. Crombeen is in, so Matt Martin or Eric Boulton will have to be on the lookout for a cancel-out fight
  • Richad Panik should return after a two-game suspension for a hit on Karl Alzner
  • Ben Bishop is in goal, because he's tall and has gotten good and the Isles should have gone there

Random factoid from the official site's morning skate post:

The Islanders are 40-35-7 all-time against the Lightning.

But only 1-4 IN PLAYOFFS AM I RIGHT?

For what it's worth, the Isles swept the season series 3-0 last season. Then again, the Isles made the playoffs last season.

FIG Picks

Leave your First Islanders Goal picks here. Surely it can't be two shutouts in a row, right Bishop?