Tonight is the only preseason game of 2014-15 -- and the last one in history -- at Nassau Coliseum. To welcome the Carolina Hurricanes, the New York Islanders will be using an intriguing lineup for the home fans.
Highlights include a line of young prospects who should become important pieces of the team this season, a few promising defensemen, another audition on John Tavares' left wing, and a longer run for the new #1 goalie, Jaroslav Halak.
- When: 7 p.m. EDT, Nassau Coliseum
- Watch: Streamed live at nyislanders.com
- Listen: WRHU 88.7 FM
- Enjoy: On your couch, in your office, behind your garage, curled up in a ball in your corner of choice
Lines of Intrigue
The Islanders posted the lineup for tonight in their game preview, but Newsday's Arthur Staple had the expected lines and pairings like so:
Grabovski | Tavares | Okposo
Lee | Nelson | Strome
Conacher | Nielsen | Skille
Martin | Cizikas | Clutterbuck
After Josh Bailey played there and scored in the opener against Ottawa in St. John's, Mikhail Grabovski gets a look at left wing on the first line next to John Tavares and Kyle Okposo.
That means Brock Nelson remains at center, this time flanked by fellow youngsters Anders Lee and Ryan Strome.
Cory Conacher and Jack Skille, both bubble guys, play around old reliable Frans Nielsen. Conacher has better odds of making the squad, but Skill at least helped himself with the late winner in St. John's.
The fourth line is traditional, but Matt Martin and Casey Cizikas are two of the incumbents under pressure to prove they should keep their spot.
Key absences: Michael Grabner, Josh Bailey
Pairings of Promise
The defense, according to Staple:
Hickey - Visnovsky
Reinhart - Pokka
Ness - Brennan
Thomas Hickey and Lubomir Visnovsky are familiar; if they stay together that's a fine second pairing. But Griffin Reinhart and Ville Pokka are both strong candidates to force a veteran out.
Meanwhile, Aaron Ness is somewhat the forgotten prospect, but he can help his place in the pecking order by creating a puck-moving pairing with new signing T.J. Brennan. Brennan is on a one-way deal and after lighting up the AHL, is angling for a spot that might otherewise be ticketed to Matt Donovan.
In goal, Kevin Poulin backs up Jaroslav Halak, but coach Jack Capuano said the Isles are leaning toward having Halak play the full game.
The Hurricanes limp in from Buffalo, where they played last night and lost Jordan Staal to a broken leg. That's got to be freaking depressing. Here is their expected lineup, via Canes Country:
Jeff Skinner - Elias Lindholm - Jiri Tlusty
Nathan Gerbe - Victor Rask - Zach Boychuk
Brad Malone - Jay McClement - Patrick Brown
Brock McGinn - Ben Holmstrom - Phil DiGiuseppe
Andrej Sekera - Justin Faulk
Jay Harrison - Ryan Murphy
Ron Hainsey - Brett Bellemore
Well, the game result doesn't count. But the execution of it does -- for these players' spots in the lineup, but also for fans jumping to the Coliseum for what will soon be a dwindling number of opportunities to see them in the place the Islanders made their name.
Enjoy. And don't break a leg.