Last night the New York Islanders sat Casey Cizikas and dressed Eric Boulton for his first game of the season. Boulton didn't screw it up, so tonight in Anaheim it's Cory Conacher's turn to hop on the scratchwagon and take in a game from the press box.
He is survived by a fourth line -- against the Stanley Cup champions, the standard-bearers of going four lines deep -- of Matt Martin, Cizikas and Boulton. Last night, Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf were out with the flu. Tonight, to face the Isles' second half of their smog-and-cars back-to-back, recently injured Anze Kopitar and Marian Gaborik are in the Kings lineup (though Justin Williams is out). Plus, Chad Johnson is in net. This should be interesting.
If you're keeping score at home, this is the latest line mix:
Kulemin - Tavares - Okposo
Grabovski - Nielsen - Clutterbuck
Lee - Nelson - Strome
Martin - Cizikas - Boulton
They'll need offense from the first line and kid line, smothering coverage from the Nielsen line, and a dark, quiet hiding place for the fourth line. Because Darryl Sutter will find them. And he will exploit them.
Also, Johnson needs to have a game reminiscent of his Boston days.
The Kings lines, per nhl.com, look like this:
Marian Gaborik – Anze Kopitar – Jordan Nolan
Tanner Pearson – Jeff Carter – Tyler Toffoli
Dwight King – Mike Richards – Dustin Brown
Kyle Clifford – Jarret Stoll – Trevor Lewis
Who Are the Kings?
Back before Gary Bettman was blamed for everything wrong with the NHL, there was the original "sunbelt" expansion in 1967. It included the Los Angeles Kings and
Oakland California Oakland Golden California Seals, who were located in some backwater growing state no on ever heard of except all the other major professional sports who were already there.
Yada yada yada, the Kings have been around almost 50 years and now have two Stanley Cups. (The Isles are younger and have four, but whatever.) They've had enough silly logo changes to make a Canuck blush, but that's not important right now.
Point is, Eurasia has always been at war with Oceania, the Kings have always been a gaudy crown, I mean purple, I mean silver, I mean black, I mean purple, or maybe gold, or is it "Forum blue," and the NHL has always wanted to grow and expand where the majority of the North American population continues to migrate. Deal with it.
It tends to work over the long term. These people are now so enamored with hockey that they can even tolerate a replay of Cartman's voice over and over and over in the name of the team.
Who Are We?
The Royal Half is true to form with its meta-preview tonight: These photoshops of the Brooklyn influence on the Islanders fanbase, marketing and roster are something(s) to behold.
Leave your First Islanders Goal picks over yonder. You have 3.5 more hours than usual to get them in, because this game is being played on Hawaii time. Don't pick Conacher.