Thomas Greiss has earned himself a consecutive start, Josh Bailey has earned 500 games in the show, and New York Islanders fans have earned an extra train on the LIRR. (That last one kind of sounds like a curse, but we'll explain.)
With Greiss standing on his head in the second period of Saturday night's win in Tampa, the Islanders backup goalie gets the nod again tonight as they host the Colorado Avalanche. Greiss has been strong all season and played nearly as many games as the de jure starter Jaroslav Halak, factoring Halak's injury at the start of the season and some relief appearances. If Greiss (6-3-2) gets a decision tonight, he'll have as many of those as Halak (6-4-2) though in one fewer game and about 40 minutes less action, depending on tonight's results.
Meanwhile, the game is also a celebratory occasion for absolutely every single Islanders fans everywhere: Josh Bailey, whose selection in the first round of the 2008 draft was the first piece in a long Islanders rebuild under Garth Snow, will play in his 500th NHL regular season game. He no doubt has even the most cynical, mournful Isles fans pulling for him on this occasion.
Almost trolling the haters among the fanbase of whose existence he's probably blissfully unaware, Bailey told Newsday:
"I know what my role is on this team though and I'm happy to fill it. I enjoy it. I've always looked forward to being part of this team when we're winning and I'm proud of the fact I've made it to this many games with one team."
Congatulations to The Bailey.
Finally, tonight marks the first night of a whole new extra eastbound train being added to the LIRR service fleet of trains at Atlantic Terminal on game days. This brings the "extra" gamenight trains from two to three, though with varying game nights and faceoff times you have to check the schedule to catch it. The best part of the MTA announcement is the use of "hockey fans forsaking their cars," which turns this into a damn-near religious experience.
Islanders (12-8-4) vs. Avalanche (9-13-1)
7 p.m. EST | MSG+, radio radio[
Low standings, high fanbase: Mile High Hockey
Oh, but the game: With Greiss starting again, there are zero lineup changes.
The Avalanche are in the basement of the Central with 19 points and it already looks like their hopes for a playoff spot have gone Columbus. But they're not exactly horrible (it's still the NHL, they still have some really good players), and they are 5-5 in their last 10 thanks to three wins on their last Eastern road trip (6-1 in Montreal! How can we learn to do that?).
One of those good players, Matt Duchene, just broke the franchise record for most goals (11) in November previously held by former Islander* and consummate tool Claude Lemieux.
*technically if not spiritually true
Duchene is riding a lethal line with fellow top-of-the-draft picks Gabriel Landeskog and Nathan MacKinnon. Oh, they also have Blake Comeau, one of the early victims of the Isles rebuild's awkward adolescent stage.
Last season these two teams hilariously traded blowouts less than two weeks apart: The Isles lost 5-0 in Colorado at the beginning of that dreaded-but-season-turnaround-igniting Western trip. Memories.
Eleven days later, and riding a high from the commenced turnaround, the Isles exacted revenge 6-0 at the gloriously unsponsored Coliseum.
Now they meet for the first time this season, in different directions, but "on any given Sunday" and all that. For a succinct read on the Avalanche angst as its retired greats lead the front office, check this post at Mile High Hockey.
You can still leave your First Islanders Goal picks here by 7 p.m.
Since this is a late preview post, go ahead and make this your in-game thread too.