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New York Islanders vs. New Jersey Devils: Grabovski to line 1, Strait taken out of storage

A few lineup changes and a minor malady as the Isles try to cap their slump at "mini" size.

Grabbo's turn.
Grabbo's turn.
Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports

The New Jersey Devils and their magical coaching carousel host the New York Islanders tonight, for the second half and opening half of back-to-back games for each team, respectively. While the Isles travel to Columbus for a game tomorrow night, the Devils are coming off a "pathetic 3-0 pounding" in Boston last night.

The Islanders, in second place and still on the same coach, obviously feel better than the Devils, mired in seventh place and under their second, er third, er fourth, er second three-thirds of a coach this season. Lou Lamoriello fired Peter DeBoer last month and took over as quasi-overseer for offensive coordinator* Adam Oates and defensive coordinator Scott Stevens.

But the Isles are still smarting a bit after losing the last two games of their Western swing in regulation, including an ugly one to the Oilers.

*Note: Not their real titles, but no one knows what to call all of this

Islanders (26-13-1, 2nd/Metro) @ Devils (15-21-7, 7th/Metro)
7 p.m. EST | MSG, MSG+ |
finance or metaphor or insurance or other] Center
The Occult:
In Lou We Trust

Lineup Notes
  • For the Devils, Long Island boy Keith Kinkaid gets his second start against the Isles. He was the victim in a 3-2 shootout loss last time.
  • Eric Gelinas was put on injured reserve, with center Jacob Josefson being activated.

For the Isles, up front and on the blueline, a few different looks:

  • Mikhail Grabovski will be the latest left wing on the top line next to John Tavares. He's played there at times in the past, but usually in a late-game situation with the Isles trying to tie.
  • Cal Clutterbuck is out (day-to-day), so Josh Bailey slots back in, possibly giving that fourth-line an oddly different look.
  • With Lubomir Visnovsky on IR, this time it's Brian Strait stepping in after Matt Donovan (who is scratched) was part of a "had a rough game" pairing with Thomas Hickey last game.
  • This will be just Strait's 20th game of the season, and his first since Dec. 11.

Lineup decisions? Jack Capuano loves having 'em:

"We’re healthy now," Capuano said. "We have some tough decisions to make as a coaching staff and that’s a good thing."

(Also in that link: John Tavares repeating his refrain that he digs being able to play with anyone.)

Jaroslav Halak is in goal again. The Isles play tomorrow night in Columbus, so we'll see if Chad Johnson gets an appearance there.

FIG Picks

Leave your First Islanders Goal picks for tonight over here. Don't choose Clutterbuck.