No, I insist, this is too much.
Tonight represents Griffin Reinhart's return to Ontario after captaining his Edmonton Oil Kings to the Memorial Cup championship in the province last spring, and the national capital is rolling out the red carpet. A morning press conference. Custom video messages throughout the arena. And as a special bonus, Griffin Reinhart will be allowed to participate in pre-game warmups with his New York Islanders teammates -- and former Senator Daniel Alfredsson will even be on the ice to see it.
Reinhart was Oil Kings captain for about 1/7th of the time Alfredsson captained the Sens, yet Reinhart still produced a WHL and a national championship in that time. Tonight's ceremony is a nice touch, really.
Islanders (18-7, t-1st/Metro) @ Senators (10-9-5, 7th/New Atlantic)
7:30 or whenever pomp ends | MSG+ | WRHU/WRCN
[national rubbery] Centre
Silver Alfredsson: Silver Seven
In all seriousness, cheers to the longtime Senators great for having his night, and hope the fans enjoy all the way up to the opening faceoff. Everyone and their brother could have told him that bolting to the Red Wings would not end in any sort of picturesque manner, but sometimes you've got to let the well-paid athlete try and fail before he returns home.
The Islanders just beat the Senators at Nassau Coliseum two nights ago, though it was harder than it should have been, requiring a Thomas Hickey zonal orbit in overtime to earn both, er, two of the three, points for the home team.
Even more so than that night, the Isles will be dealing with a shorter deck than has characterized their 18-7 start:
- Johnny Boychuk and Lubomir Visnovsky remain out; now Travis Hamonic is out too. That's one whole side of the blueline.
- That means Griffin Reinhart is up and in the lineup for his fourth-ever NHL game.
- Jaroslav Halak starts again.
- Michael Grabner is there (and off IR), but so is Cal Clutterbuck, who took an injury in the last game. So forwards are a gametime decision.
- Despite the Sens' rotation, Robin Lehner will not be in the lineup. He's hurt, so Craig Anderson starts again, backed up by an emergency callup.
- Like last game, the Senators are cagey on who will be back, if anyone: Maybe Marc Methot. Maybe Bobby Ryan. Maybe not.
Sens coach Paul MacLean, proving that men with bushy mustaches have something to hide:
"Marc, we believe, is going to be able to be available for the warm-up and we're going to see at that point in time if he's ready," MacLean said. "So obviously he's getting closer and closer to playing."
As for Ryan, MacLean said the onus will be on the player to give an honest assessment of his ability to be effective.
"If he can't be the player Bobby Ryan is then he shouldn't be out there," MacLean said. "If he says he's ready to play he has to be able to shoot the puck to the back of the net."
Reinhart, going through the standard initiation of "these guys are bigger and stronger and faster here":
"I’ve worked on every part of my game, but the biggest thing is practicing with guys that you are stronger and faster. That will naturally make you a better player."
Coach Jack Capuano on Reinhart [mp3]:
I like his size, I like his stick, I like his gap. It's a different game here. Hopefully he can come in here and do the job. We've got a couple guys doing well down there [in Bridgeport] ... and we have some guys banged up, so this is an opportunity for him.
Finally, in the interest of not filling our days with snark and irreverence for all that is sacred, here are two Ontario-born Islanders with nice quotes about Alfredsson -- who really was a great, even despite that ugly Jofa helmet. From the Isles official site:
Calvin de Haan (Carp, Ontario):
He’s arguably the best Senator to ever put on the jersey. He was one of my favorite players growing up. I enjoyed watching him. He was so smart on the ice, he competed and he was entertaining too. Especially in those Leafs-Sens series, some of the antics that went on were pretty funny. He was a great leader and good for the community. I’ve talked to him a few times over the years and he’s just a down-to-earth person.
I grew up watching him play quite a bit and he was such a good player for a long time. I played with him at the All-Star Game in Ottawa and got to know him a little while I was there. He’s a tremendous person. A lot of guys I know that have played in Ottawa have always said great things about Alfie. I’m sure it’ll be a special night… I’m sure everyone will take a moment to pause and reflect on what a great career he had.
Leave your First Islanders Goal picks over this way. Don't pick Alfredsson.