Despite facing 32 shots plus shootout attempts last night, Cory Schneider will start again in goal for the Devils because why not.
"Less Brodeur, more Schneider" was the advice hurled at the Devils from all corners the past few years. It took a while to sink in, but once it did they really took it to heart. Schneider has started all but one of their 23 games, and appeared in 1,261 of their 1,390 total goalie minutes. Scott Clemmensen, who by rights should have been put out to pasture with Martin Brodeur, got the other start and holds a .852 save percentage (eight goals, 54 shots) in 101 minutes.
But the problem for the Devils has traditionally been creating goals, and they are again in the bottom third of the league there at 2.44 goals per game. However, their grey hairs are largely producing -- Mike Cammalleri scored his ninth and tenth last night, while Jaromir Jagr continues to be Ageless Jaromir Jagr -- and their power play is clicking at nearly 22 percent (21.7%, 7th overall). At even strength, their shooting percentage of almost 7.9 percent is at least middle of the pack, better than it's been in recent seasons.
What really stands out: The Devils penalty kill is almost as horrid as the Islanders. (73.6% for the Devils, 73.1% for the Isles, 29th and 30th respectively).
Of course, unlike previous seasons when "puck luck" or any number of variables (Brodeur) failed an otherwise strong possession team, this time around they are below 50 percent in Corsi and Fenwick possession stats. As the Isles' special teams have underlined this year, in hockey there is always another lever or two to work on.
- Lots of bodies banged up on both sides as the NHL's ridiculously congested holiday schedule continues:
- Johnny Boychuk will sit again, joined by Lubomir Visnovsky (both "upper body"), which means Matt Donovan joins Brian Strait from dry storage.
- Jaroslav Halak starts.
- For the Devils, a couple of big ones: Both Adam Henrique and Travis Zajac took injuries last night that will cause them to sit out. They are replaced by frequent scratches Damien Brunner and Jordin Tootoo. Looks like Seth Helgeson (awesome name) slots in for Eric Gelinas, too.
Donovan, on approaching his second game of the season:
People know I was in a tough position having not played all season. Playing after sitting out for 20 games is difficult. I was happy with the way I played. I kept things simple and I’m just going to try and continue that tonight.
The Islanders have had exactly three days without a game since last Thursday. The fatigue looks like it's showing a bit, and is no doubt having an effect in bumps and bruises experienced but not reported.
No matter what happens tonight, it will have been one hell of a month. But hopefully they can suck it up in front of the home fans, take advantage of an opponent that is also banged up, and finish November like this is actually just October 60th.
Leave your First Islanders Goal picks over yonder. Don't pick Visnovsky.