The New York Islanders have a two-game Halloween weekend, though there's a little more time between games than a typical back-to-back set: Today's game is early afternoon in Newark, while tomorrow night at home the puck drops at 5 p.m., but it's after everyone regains an hour thanks to the end of Daylight Manipulation Time.
Still keeping pace with the Rangers and Capitals for first in the Metro Division and off to their best start since that resurgent 2001-02 season, there are two more points on the table to make it a grand October, and four available for the weekend to start [Month Which Shall Not Be Named] off in style.
The Islanders, who have praised themselves for finding ways to win despite sub-par efforts, appear to recognize that this isn't a sustainable way to go about things.
"We're beating ourselves," Islanders forward Frans Nielsen said after the loss to Carolina. "We've got to get back to basics. We're getting outshot every night, it seems."
There is also this from the captain in Newsday, which said the Isles didn't spend Friday stewing over Thursday's blown point:
"I think we know when we're playing well and when we're not," John Tavares said Friday. "We know when we've got to be better. I think we've handled adversity pretty well this year. We've responded, whether it's the next period or the next game, so we're working toward that consistency we need."
And perhaps most honest of all, from the star pending UFA winger in the Post:
"It’s just early in the season, just a little bit of — not complacency — just a little bit of not being fully invested for 60 minutes," forward Kyle Okposo said. "I think we’ve played well in spurts, we just have to do a better job of being in it for a full 60, and I have no doubt that we will."
Having your best start in more than a decade despite several incomplete performances is the kind of thing that can be reassuring, but also alarming. That's the pleasant consequence of ever-increasing expectations.
As for lineups this afternoon, Jaroslav Halak was back at practice after sitting out Thursday with illness and is expected to start, but Ryan Strome was still out ill Friday and is a game-time decision.
And in late-breaking news, they recalled Taylor Beck from Bridgeport.
UPDATE: Tavares Out. And in late-late-breaking news, John Tavares will miss this game for reasons to be "provided after the game." There are guesses that he is ill as Strome and Halak were, but we'll see. (Maybe.)
The Devils, who suffered the indignity of losing to the Columbus Blue Jackets this month, bounced back to firmly deposit the Philadelphia Flyers on their backsides in their last game. That makes for a 5-1-1 run after dropping the first three games of the season. They feel they're progressing, but they know their schedule is about to get tougher.
Jiri Tlusty was nursing an injury and "questionable" for today's game.