The San Jose Sharks are one of the Western Conference steamrollers, and they arrive having torched opponents with only one regulation loss in their last 10 games. Their recent thrashing of the Toronto Maple Leafs -- who arrived on a back-to-back while the Sharks rested -- was a clinic that reflected San Jose at its outshooting best.
If there's one solace for the New York Islanders tonight, it's that on this occasion they are the rested team while the Sharks are the traveling team on a back-to-back, and their performance last night in Columbus was a rare blip. A shootout win, yes, but a rare occasion in which the Sharks were decisively outshot.
Of course, the Sharks arrive at Nassau Coliseum needing a Bridgeport program to figure out who all these Islanders are. In addition to new NCAA signing Kevin Czurczman and the latest callup Johan Sundstrom (recalled after Michael Grabner's concussion), there is the arsenal of rookies like Anders Lee, Ryan Strome, Mike Halmo, Matt Donovan, Anders Nilsson and Calvin de Haan who spent much of this season in the AHL several injuries and two trades ago.
Sundstrom will make his NHL debut -- on right wing with Mike Halmo and Casey Cizikas, per Arthur Staple. Czurczman, however, is still in the "meetings" stage and won't debut just yet.
As we saw in Monday's dramatic comeback win, this makes for entertaining chaos as we check out the kids.
The Sharks, however, are at the top of the Pacific and near the top of the league overall. After years of favorite status in which they fell short, this could actually, finally, at long last be their year.
If you remember, last meeting the Islanders actually came out on top, but it was one of those outliers hockey is so good at delivering, where the Isles won (via shootout) a game they had no business winning but for Kevin Poulin saving their bacon and putting in a rare Islanders goalie game-stealer.
Leave your First Islanders Goal picks for this one right round this way. We've had two games in a row where no one picked the winner (life's tough in a world with no John Tavares, no Thomas Vanek, eh?), so the top of the standings remain like so:
39 - martylnd
26 - zack779
24 - DoctorOsty
21 - mike in mi
20 - Isle in Dixie
20 - Torgo
19 - jeanluc1968
18 - hockeyp6
18 - mrs. mike in mi
18 - Ukiddinme