Apart from the NHL's spring silly season and the wait for trade news that probably won't break until next week, there are actual games to play.
In their place is a trio of callups (Matt Martin is also out injured) who made up Bridgeport's top line last weekend and through much of its season: Ryan Strome, Anders Lee and Mike Halmo.
Most eyes will be on how the Isles use Strome in his second stint with the club. To start off, they're keeping him with Lee and next to former Bridgeport captain Colin McDonald.
Halmo takes Martin's place on the fourth line:
Halmo: "Down there I’ve felt more pressure to produce, but here I don’t feel that pressure," Halmo said. "I am going to play simple, finish checks and work hard."
Expected Power Play Units
With Nielsen out, the official site notes that MacDonald "takes the reigns as the Islanders ironman, as he is set to play his 162nd consecutive game." That doesn't look like it's gonna last.
Toronto has its own trade deadline circus to contend with -- as opposed to the everyday circus -- mostly focused on Dave Bolland, who is a valued pending UFA but is reportedly asking for the moon. Worse, he's still not quite ready to return from a foot injury that's had him sidelined most of the season. So they basically have 15 games of Bolland-as-Leaf data to think about.
Randy Carlyle took the break as a chance to re-examine and re-coach his team's defense:
"The issue for us has been when we’re loose with the puck through the neutral ice and in the offensive zone, we spend a lot more time in our zone."
So tonight, it's one team missing its top two centers while evaluating the next wave, versus another team hoping to firm up the alarming foundation that makes critics think it won't go far this season.
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