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New York Islanders vs. San Jose Sharks: Come on offense, my old friend

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Yeah, I'll totally do a Simon & Garfunkel pun if it means getting more than two lousy goals.

Hey, man, keep them away from there.
Hey, man, keep them away from there.
Bob Stanton-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Islanders launch a three-game road trip to the same region and around the same time where a trip last year nearly tanked, then resurrected, what would turn out to be a very good season.

Last year it was a spanking in Colorado and a narrow loss in San Jose that had things looking frightening, before two still-uncomfortable narrow bonus point wins in southern California were the appetizer for thorough win in Arizona.

This time the Isles skip Colorado but hit the California trio, then return home for their Coyotes dessert on Monday. What will the season look like a week from today?

Islanders (7-5-3) @ Sharks (7-7-0)
10:30 p.m. EST | MSG+,
radio everywhere
[PCs or enterprise apps or oh come on it's just] Shark Tank
Face of Foes: Fear the Fin

With just nine goals over their last six games -- roughly coinciding with the power play going dry -- the lines have received another tweak. Brock Nelson gets bumped up to the top line that will also feature a second game of Kyle Okposo on the right of John Tavares:

Nelson - Tavares - Okposo
Lee - Nielsen - Bailey
Kulemin - Grabovski - Bernier
Martin - Cizikas - Clutterbuck

That means Josh Bailey returns from his one-game banishment, and Taylor Beck is the healthy scratch. Bailey was "yep, been there" about his scratch from last game:

It’s nothing as a player that you want to have happen. I’ve been around quite a while now and I think I understand how to handle these things. You have your ups and downs and it’s how you respond to them and try to limit the down times as much as possible.

Thomas Greiss will start against one of his old teams. On defense, no changes yet as Monday recall Adam Pelech will not make his NHL debut on this night. Probably more meetings.

The once-hot but now-cold power play will see no personnel changes...yet:

Sharks

Opposite Greiss is Martin Jones, the former Kings backup the Sharks stole from their California rivals by way of Boston over the summer.

The Sharks are completing a four-game homestand tonight. They have yet to lose via overtime or shootout, which is weird, as it deprives fans of the chance to act clever and knock such loss points even though the standings are determined by numbers, not nouns.

While the Isles claim to have "the best fourth line in hockey," the Sharks...they have a fourth line too. Take it away, Fear The Fin:

If lines from yesterday's practice hold, however, the fourth line remains an unmitigated disaster.

Oh, and on that fourth line? The Sharks are expected to dress an old friend, one whose absence from the Isles lineup was the cause of much message board apocalypse from 2010-2013.

Not that fans ever overreact with hyperbole and melodrama.

Still, you know he'll score.

FIG Picks

Leave your First Islanders Goal picks here. You have extra time to do so. Game time is 10:30 EST.