The New York Islanders seek to halt its (as of now) mini-skid against a team that overcame a season-opening skid of its own: The Boston Bruins opened the season with a win over the lowly Flyers only to lose three consecutive games, leading to tales and mythology about slumped body language and, probably, something about not wanting it enough.
Yet the hockey continues. The Bruins beat the even lowlier Sabres and the Sharks -- the Isles beat them too -- to recover to 4-4. (The Flyers, incidentally, last night beat the Penguins, who themselves handed the Isles their first loss -- it's almost as if each game has two teams who can win most nights!) Tonight our featured combatants hope to use the other as fodder for their fan-pleasing narratives.
Islanders (4-2-0) @ Bruins (4-4-0)
7 p.m. EDT | MSG+ | WRHU
[finance and football or something] Garden
Boy, they lost their chuk: Stanley Cup of Chowder
These teams -- or diluted facsimiles thereof -- met twice in the preseason, with the Isles persuasively taking the first game and the Bruins mercilessly taking the second in Bridgeport.
The early storyline coming out of the Islanders locker room has revolved around 1) Raised expectations, which is less tolerant of 2) Being "too easy to play against" in losses, which can be addressed directly by 3) Finding more sources for 5-on-5 offense.
Indeed, to the point that the third theme is true, it's been masked by a hot power play in the opening games of the season…until the last two losses.
(It's funny how, no matter what else goes on around a hockey game, that final game result -- and consequently, the words of the team and the mood of the fan base -- can turn on something as simple and variant as a hot special teams night or a great goaltending performance.)
Anyway, with the Islanders still missing Mikhail Grabovski (officially placed on IR yesterday), Anders Lee has been recalled to goose the offense. If his first 22 NHL games are an indication, he should be able to do so by firing shots and getting his big frame to the net.
Making way for Lee is Colin McDonald, who watched the first few games before Grabovski's injury, and now finds himself waived and Bridgeport-bound if he clears.
With Grabovski on IR (but retroactive, meaning it could be short-lived if his concussion protocol allows), that means it's another open spot for ... Lubomir Visnovsky, coming off IR to make his season debut. That could be key, because last word was the Isles may force Travis Hamonic to sit out to rest his injury.
The year of depth, impatience and raised expectations is here.