The New York Islanders will take another run at the Ottawa Senators this afternoon, in another attempt to salvage a seven-game homestand that's off to a 0-2-1 start against a team that has managed to continue chugging along without its best defenseman and top-scoring center.
However, today the Isles face their own internal danger: A possibly absent or less than 100% John Tavares. The tweet that frightens, from yesterday:
Head Coach Jack Capuano: John Tavares is under the weather and resting today. Will be re-evaluated tomorrow. #Isles— NYIslanders (@NYIslanders) March 2, 2013
The Senators lost yesterday, 2-1 on the road to the Flyers, wasting a 39-save performance by Ben Bishop. In that game, Daniel Alfredsson was tossed in the third period for retaliating against Zac Rinaldo for doing a Zac Rinaldo thing.
Paul MacLean, who has already earned a lot of respect in his young career as an NHL coach, backed up his captain:
"We're not just going to let teams run around and run us and just accept it, that's not going to happen," MacLean said. "I thought the penalty that Alfredsson took was a good one. … We're going to protect ourselves and that doesn't change for any team in the League as far as we're concerned. We’re going to take care of ourselves."
Chris Neil has behaved the last couple of meetings between these two teams, so we'll see if soreness from yesterday causes that to change, or if he avoids doing a Zac Rinaldo thing himself.
The Senators have quietly remained one of the league's more promising teams even without Erik Karlsson and Jason Spezza in the lineup. Maybe those injuries are due to catch up with them soon, but we saw last time it didn't keep them from skating past the Isles. If Tavares isn't good to go or less than 100% today, then look out.
Spirit of the Times
- Looking into the numbers behind the Tim Thomas trade, and what it does for the Isles.
- More John Tavares love from TSN.
- If you missed PGI's fantastic revisiting of the Gang of Four era of Islanders ownership, you really should check it out. And if you saw it, then Newsday's piece about the county fighting with SMG and the Isles over who owes what to whom sounds all too familiar.
- Meanwhile in on-ice, or at least in-the-room, matters, Newsday's Arthur Staple says the Islanders need a veteran to step up and change the "we played hard, but" dynamic.
- Also in Newsday: Brian Burke on Rick DiPietro.
- The official site on Casey Cizikas and his linemates.
Leave your First Islanders Goal picks in this thread.