The New York Islanders start a new month in an unfamiliar -- but it's growing on them! -- position: Tied for first in the Metro, having laid waste to what used to be known as curséd November.
They start off at home, where they and the crowds have been electric, as the first half of a home-and-home with the struggling Ottawa Senators. The Sens will welcome back Daniel Alfredsson for his tribute night on the other leg of this series. So take care of business tonight, hope to catch them with ceremony legs on Thursday.
The Islanders will use the same lineup that hung on for dear victory over the Devils Saturday at the Coliseum, when they were outshot 16-1 in the third period. Given a brief respite after that run of six games in nine nights, hopefully they are refreshed and not so inclined to lean on the kindness of Jaroslav Halak for a full third of the game.
That said, if you're going to just hang on, Halak is a nice thing to have.
The Isles finished that game hemmed in and, to make matters more Halak-dependent, killing off multiple power plays -- a contrast to the end of last week's Flyers game where they affixed the clamp on Philly before finally breaking Steve Mason in the shootout.
- Same lineup means both Johnny Boychuk and Lubomir Visnovsky are still out -- though improving, Jack Capuano said -- while Brian Strait and Matt Donovan embody the face of blueline depth.
- Jaroslav Halak, the aforementioned First Start of November, starts again. If Halak gets the win, he'd tie Billy Smith's franchise mark for most consecutive victorious decisions.
- The Senators looked set to go with Craig Anderson, though early morning reports after Anderson took a high shot had people reading the ol' "well Robin Lehner was first off the ice" leaves. Should be Anderson though.
- Marc Methot, out all season, is close to returning but not yet tonight. Likewise (and also in that Citizen story), Zack Smith is still out as a scratch for being so eminently scratchable.
- Those darned special teams: With Boychuk and Visnovsky out, Nick Leddy is again slated for PP duty. "The Islanders also experimented with an all-forward power play – for a two-man advantage – featuring Kyle Okposo and John Tavares up top and Brock Nelson, Frans Nielsen and Ryan Strome down low."
Leave your First Islanders Goal picks for tonight in this little bucket.