After arguably their most complete game of the season, a 4-0 win over the New Jersey Devils on Sunday, the New York Islanders managed just a goal apiece in losses to Florida on Tuesday and in Colorado on Thursday. They'll try to break just their third two-game regulation losing "streak" of the season tonight in Glendale.
And they'll try to do it minus Kyle Okposo, their leading scorer with 36 points in 33 games.
Something will break here: The Islanders have had trouble finding goals the last couple of games, while the Arizona Coyotes have had trouble preventing them, giving up 12 (including an empty netter and a 3-on-3 OT goal) in their last two games.
You look at the Isles lineup -- even without Okposo -- and you figure they should be able to score. You look at the Coyotes blueline and you think...who? Outside of Oliver Ekman-Larsson (the only one pulling his weight), there are declining guys (Michalek, Grossman) and mid-20s guys trying to make a name.
Add to that goalie Mike Smith's injury, which means Anders Lindback must carry the load for the Coyotes, and you have the recipe for Islanders goals. (The Blue Jackets scored seven on the Coyotes the other night.)
But with Okposo's injury and the offensive struggles, the top three lines take on a very remixed look:
An admittedly struggling Anders Lee joins the top line while Frans Nielsen centers Brock Nelson and Ryan Strome. Steve Bernier, in the lineup for Okposo, goes next to the Kulemin-Grabovski pairing.
Lee - Tavares - Bailey
Nelson - Nielsen - Strome
Kulemin - Grabovski - Bernier
Martin - Cizikas - Clutterbuck
Lee started the season on the Tavares line opposite Strome, which did not go well and did not last long for either of him. Here's to a reset being good for both Lee and Tavares, who himself hasn't been producing over the last week or so.
Anders Lee hopes bump up to JT's line will help shake him out of slump -- no goals in 12 games. "Last night was pretty close to the bottom."— Arthur Staple (@StapeNewsday) December 18, 2015
Jaroslav Halak will start in goal.
Leave your First Islanders Goal picks for tonight here. Insider tip: Don't choose Okposo.