The weirdest thing about the NHL realignment that went into effect this season is that the Florida teams were unmercifully (yet still defensibly) cut off from their "Southleast" Division brethren and lumped in with the geographical northeast-based, Atlantic Division II.
The funniest thing? The Lightning's old doormat division neighbors are still largely impotent -- Washington, Carolina, Florida and Atlantapeg are all good bets to miss the playoffs, leaving the Lightning as the lone impressive Southeast survivor.
With 10 games left, the Lightning are seven points ahead of the nearest teams who could possibly pull a miracle to knock them out of the postseason. This, even after Martin St. Louis went Muller on the franchise.
The news of note today for the Islanders is that John Persson, essentially the last remaining Bridgeport Sound Tiger forward with NHL promise, has been recalled on emergency conditions. Kyle Okposo has been nursing a
n upper body injury and it's presumed he is Persson's target.
If Persson makes it in time for the faceoff, he'll join a lineup of other 2013-14 Sound Tigers that includes Ryan Strome, Anders Lee, Mike Halmo, Johan Sundstrom, Matt Donovan, Calvin de Haan and Anders Nilsson (though Evgeni Nabokov is set to start in goal). Full-season AHL graduate Brock Nelson and recent NCAA signing Kevin Czuczman are also rookies.
Stamkos In, Tavares Out
Tonight is the first time this season the Islanders will face Steven Stamkos, who returned recently from his broken leg. That has the Lightning power play humming and on a 9-for-36 run, which could easily make mince meat of the Isles' battered penalty kill.
There are a lot of comparisons. They have a little different offensive side to their game, but as far as leadership, character, work ethic and how they prepare for every game, that’s what makes them great players. It’s how they train in the offseason. They make their teams’ go, 91 makes our team go and [Stamkos] makes their team go.
Who's better? I don't know. They're different. To go talk radio on it, Tavares is the "proven winner," as he is the one with the Olympic gold medal, amirite?
Leave your First Islanders Goal picks here, by game time.