The New York Islanders are 6-2, but for fans not used to this whole "we're good now" thing, or for fans aware of the dangers of small samples -- like winning games while conceding three goals -- tonight against the Winnipeg Jets somehow feels like a must-win.
It's not because of the Jets, or because of "statement games," or any other such thing. It's because those same fans are also aware of other hauntings from the Islanders' recent past: namely, brutal Novembers and brutal Western road trips.
The Islanders face both dangers just around the corner, with Thursday's trip to Colorado followed by a three-stop tour of California to open November.
The Isles lineup is the same as it's been tonight, save for Jaroslav Halak getting back in net. Travis Hamonic still out, with Michael Grabner and Josh Bailey still on IR.
So just keep doing what you're doing; that way, to keep doing what they've done in the past won't hurt as bad.
- Regression Can Be Good: The Jets still have an unbelievable 3.6 percent success rate. They have scored once on 28 opportunities.
- In a related story, Evander Kane, the subject of so many summer trade fantasies (though to be fair, I'd take him today and twice on Sunday), is skating but is still not back in the lineup after an opening night injury.
- Brenden Kichton, the subject of much scorn and angst in these here comment forums, is somehow in the AHL rather than the Jets lineup tonight.
- The Jets last played in a 2-1 OT win over Colorado. Both of those teams are in the Central Division. In case you're still not up on realignment.
- As high-scoring as Isles games have been this season, that's how low-scoring the Jets' games have been. Their 2.62 GA/GP is 14th best, while their 1.88 GF/GP ranks 28th. Did I mention their PP has been bad and their PK has been good (88.2%, 5th)?
- The inadequate Ondrej Pavelec is also inconsistent, which probably is what keeps the Jets in perennial hope that he'll pan out. Arctic Ice Hockey calls him Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. I think we want Jekyll Pavelec tonight rather than Ondrej Hyde. (Unless Jekyll makes us the victim? I never know when on the receiving end of that metaphor.)
- Of course, Halak is the guy with the .893 save percentage right now. We'll take our own happy regression pill there, please.
Expected lines, according to nhl.com:
Andrew Ladd - Bryan Little - Dustin Byfuglien
Mathieu Perreault - Mark Scheifele - Blake Wheeler
TJ Galiardi - Adam Lowry - Michael Frolik
Chris Thorburn - Jim Slater - Matt Halischuk
Toby Enstrom – Paul Postma
Mark Stuart - Jacob Trouba
Grant Clitsome – Adam Pardy
Context is King
John Tavares, hopefully not having flashbacks to Nabby:
"Jaro's been around for a while; he's not an old guy, but he's been around and has proved a lot at this level on a consistent basis. You just know Jaro is going to make the saves he needs to make. He's been huge for us."
He's not an old guy. You know, like the last guy.
That's BeLIeve, You Mean
Capuano-ism of the day: Asked by Winnipeg press about reason for hot start: "I think it’s believability and trust in one another." #Isles— Brett Cyrgalis (@BrettCyrgalis) October 28, 2014
Leave your First Islanders Goal picks for tonight over this way.