You know why I'm ready for realignment? Because the Islanders can win tonight, pass the Jets in points, move into possession of eighth place...and Winnipeg would still be the third seed in the Eastern Conference.
But Winnipeg's perch is not a safe one. In the standings, they don't have to worry so much about teams like the Islanders as they do abut the two Southeast rivals who are just three points behind.
So, lotta marbles at stake tonight. It's April in the NHL, three-point games abound, every night has marbles. Not all the marbles, but enough marbles to get us game-planning every possible scenario and keep our interest, hopes and anxieties high.
Just the way Gary Bettman wants it.
The Islanders and Jets both played in the metro area last night, with the Isles winning 3-1 in Newark while Winnipeg fell 4-2 at MSG. As many of you who followed both games know, the Jets were in good position leading 2-1 before a pivotal Ryan Callahan shorthanded goal. The loss was their third in a row, which has them looking for answers and checking their rearviewmirror.
Figure Al Montoya spells Ondrej Pavelec in the Winnipeg crease, but the only Isles goalie at their optional morning skate was Kevin Poulin.
Something tells me Evgeni Nabokov is going back to back.
But that's speculation. [UPDATE: Indeed!] Jack Capuano will talk to media at 5 p.m., so we'll learn of any lineup changes then. Anders Lee is signed, equipped and was considered a "possibility" for tonight, but we'll see. We'll see. UPDATE: Staple has the goods: Lee debuts on wing with Matt Martin and Casey Cizikas. Marty Reasoner sits. Kevin Poulin starts.
Jack Capuano on Poulin:
He's had time to work on things. I feel he's prepared. He's worked hard in practice and he knows he's ready.
Anyway, this is just the second meeting of the season, with the rubber match coming at the beginning of the five-game road trip that closes out the Isles' season. Last time out was in the season's opening weeks, a 5-4 OT loss that featured four lead changes. Evander Kane and Travis Hamonic got double-minors for roughing at the end of the first period, so look for them to renew matchups.
And lurking in the background for tonight: The Islanders miserable home record of 6-11-2. I don't think it's a thing, but the more it looks like a thing, the more it becomes a thing in our collective psyche. So, in case they needed any further reason to win tonight...there's that.
- Heavens knows we've talked about Mark Streit plenty today. If the Isles -- who have not found agreement on a contract extension -- want to trade him, then tonight would be his last game as an Islander. Weird. For the record, Elliotte Friedman reports they were trying to reach a three-year deal.
- Down on the farm, Ryan Strome is set to make his pro debut with the Bridgeport Sound Tigers in the AHL. Team story here, write-up in the Connecticut Post here.
- Also for the AHL, Arthur Staple of Newsday reports terms on an ELC have been agreed with Andrey Pedan.
- A little more on Lee in the WSJ. Yes, the WSJ.
- Kerry Fraser thinks the game misconduct and major for Chris Kunitz's hit on Josh Bailey was the right call, as was the decision not to further punish a Penguin.
- You can feel the remorse in Burnside's formulaic voice if he won't have the Isles to kick around anymore. There there, Burnsie. Odds are still against them making the postseason.
- On TSN and Sportsnet's battle to
outobnoxious one anotherget more eyes on Deadline Day.
Speaking of the deadline, our full stream of coverage appears here and will continue to be updated. After the dust on this game settles, we'll have a general open thread up tomorrow, as well as dedicated posts to anything Islanders-specific.
Until then, you commenters can feel free to jaw up other goings-on: Jack Hillen got a two-year extension, Jagr is a Bruin, MAB is a Cane, Roy is a Canuck, JayBo is a Blue, etc.
Leave your First Islanders Goal picks in this thread. The standings are updated after last night's Bailey-wick.