Speed meets speed. Again.
The New York Islanders look to exact revenge on the Tampa Bay Lightning, who beat them by 5-2 last week at the end of the Isles' Florida back-to-back. Tonight is the second half of a back-to-back for the Lightning, though their intra-New York travel was a little easier, and last night's opponent rolled over for them at Madison Square Garden.
The novelty of tonight is seeing ex-Islander and frequent Stan Fischler sidekick play against his old team, with his replacement Jaroslav Halak at the other end.
Nabokov had fawning things to say about the Islanders last week as a team that will go places soon, and the Isles likewise remember him fondly:
"He was a great teammate, he fit really well in this locker room," John Tavares said. "He made a big impact on a lot of us, especially myself."
"He’s a super guy," Bailey said. "He’s a great teammate, a great goalie and he was a great veteran presence for our team for the time he was here, and definitely a great friend of everyone in this room. That being said, we’re going to want to put it to him tonight, and I think he’s going to want to do the same to us."
Lightning coach Jon Cooper explained the decision in goal (an easy one, since they played last night too):
"The old guard is coming in to protect his turf," Lightning coach Jon Cooper said with a laugh Tuesday morning when asked if Nabokov would play against his former team.[...]
"I know this is a big night for him," Cooper said. "I know he had a twinkle in his eye when he looked at the schedule. We knew all along he’s be playing this one. We’re really excited for him, and I know the guys will play hard for him."
The only other lineup change is Cal Clutterbuck back in the lineup for Cory Conacher. Clutterbuck missed the game in Tampa with a minor leg injury.
Ride the Lightning
Thomas Hickey on the Lightning, via SportsTalkNY:
"I think these guys are the best team we played," Islanders defenseman Thomas Hickey explains. "Even though we haven’t played Montreal yet. Standings wise these guys are really good, they proved that last night and recently against us."
"They have depth, speed and they are young" Hickey describes. "It is a very dangerous combination. They have more live legs on a back-to-back game then a lot of other teams do."
Yes, the Lightning have been good -- and fast. This should be a different meeting than what many saw in Manhattan last night. And hopefully, a different result from the Isles' loss in Tampa.