The New York Islanders have only scored two goals over their last three games, and tonight in their final game before a holiday layoff, they welcome a team that has been stingy at giving them up.
The Anaheim Ducks are surrounded by the consequences of unmet expectations -- trade rumors, a "hot seat" coach, you name it -- but they've only conceded 12 goals over their last seven games, four of which were wins. They're a last-place team in a bad Pacific Division, but...it feels like they're hiding a more significant threat underneath.
Islanders (18-11-5, 3rd/Metro) vs. Ducks (12-14-5, 7th/Pacific)
7 p.m. EST | MSG+, radio
Brooklyn's [ingloriously sponsored] Center
Duck, duck, goose: Anaheim Calling | Battle of Cali
If you think the Isles have slumped offensively at times this season, that's nothing compared to what the Ducks have faced. Analysts are wondering whether it's all terribly bad luck -- their even-strength shooting percentage is almost incomprehensibly low -- or part of a feedback loop that entails decline plus luck and the kitchen sink.
Anyway, it's gotten to the point where even Ryan Getzlaf has been moved around, and separated from longtime running mate Corey Perry. Getzlaf was resigned to it a few days ago, per the Orange County Register:
"We’re not producing. You got to produce in this game. You got to find ways to do it. He’s doing his job to try and find ways to get us goals. And we got to do it.
"That’s his job back there. My job is to go out there and play. Whoever’s on my wings, I’m going to try and do that. You’re never going to hear me complain about that. I got to go out and play and do my job."
However, while their 2-1 win in Newark was hardly an offensive explosion, Getzlaf was with Perry and Pat Maroon again, and Bruce Boudreau called it one of Getzlaf's best games of the season:
"That's what they do," Boudreau said. "When they can control the puck in the offensive zone, and Patty is also very good down low, then they become a real viable threat."
Anyway, though the Ducks have disappointed so far this year and we could easily see a major change if things don't turn around, they are hardly limping into Brooklyn.
The Isles, meanwhile, could really color their Christmas break depending on how this goes: As bad as four regulation losses in a row, or as good as a more convincing win -- a decent power play would be nice -- to erase the memories of the last week.
They'll do it with Jaroslav Halak in net, without leading scorer Kyle Okposo and ... drumroll please ... Brian Strait in for Marek Zidlicky.
Leave your FIG picks for tonight here. Still don't choose Okposo...but maybe choose shutout?