By puck drop, the NHL's playoff pairings are already set (and don't include these teams) and these two lineups will be far cries from what both teams expect to field in their next game that matters, early next October.
That said, with both teams decimated by injuries, this game sure has meaning to the lucky callups who replace the wounded. (Oh, and to those draft lottery-focused Isles fans who desperately desire a loss to assure a finish behind Calgary.)
It's been a maddening, frustrating season for Islanders fans, but we've got one more game to go -- with Jiggs McDonald calling it, too. And then tomorrow, of course, this site will pick up where we left off, humming along and thanking you for joining in the
Islanders (bad-bad-bad, 8th/Metro) @ Sabres (bad-worse-worst, 8th/New Atlantic)
5 p.m. EDT (because let's get it over with early) | MSG-something | WRHU/WRCN
[it's not the Aud, so what's it matter] Place or Center
Kindred spirits?: Die by the Blade
While granted that some of these guys (but not many, honestly) would play if today were a playoff match instead of whatever this is, the following list of wounded is almost hilarious:
Injured Islanders: John Tavares (knee), forwards Johan Sundstrom (neck), Cal Clutterbuck (upper body), Michael Grabner (concussion) and Kyle Okposo (lower body), and defensemen Calvin de Haan (leg) and Lubomir Visnovsky (concussion).
Injured Sabres: Chris Stewart (ankle), Brian Flynn (lower body), Matt D'Agostini (lower body), Christian Ehrhoff (concussion), Michael Neuvirth (lower body), Jhonas Enroth (leg) Nathan Lieuwen (concussion), Zenon Konopka (back), defensemen Chad Ruhwedel (concussion), Tyler Myers (middle body) Alexander Sulzer (upper body).
For posterity, so that we may one day look back on this soon-forgotten moment, the Islanders are fielding an entire forward lineup of guys who are playing at least one line above where they should (rookies in bold):
27 Anders Lee – 51 Frans Nielsen – 12 Josh Bailey
56 John Persson – 29 Brock Nelson – 18 Ryan Strome
17 Matt Martin – 53 Casey Cizikas – 13 Colin McDonald
43 Mike Halmo – 59 Brett Gallant – 49 Justin Johnson
The defense is also green, green, green:
14 Thomas Hickey – 3 Travis Hamonic
46 Matt Donovan – 7 Matt Carkner
24 Kevin Czuczman – 42 Scott Mayfield
To top it off, rookie Anders Nilsson is in net, bringing his .894 save percentage (.003 higher than alternate backup Kevin Poulin!) to the lineup for his 17th NHL start.
For Buffalo, well, here's what Die By The Blade makes of who's left after three more injuries yesterday in Boston:
Leino - Ennis - Stafford
Hodgson - Girgensons - Mitchell
Foligno - ? - Deslauriers
Ellis - ? - Scott
Tallinder - Ristolainen
Weber - McBain
McCabe - Pysyk
Of course, along with some excitement for minor leaguers and rookies getting to play in the NHL, there is also the high degree of likelihood for silliness, involving fights, the general puffing of chests, flapping of wings, and showing of feathers. With so many rough guys in the Isles lineup and with John Scott being John Scott, John Scott may be busy today.