Not much has changed since the last time the New York Islanders hosted their city rivals: The Rangers still have two games in hand (though now they're four instead of three points behind), and they still haven't beaten the first-place Isles this season.
The Isles have come by their lead in the Metropolitan Division the old-fashioned way: by dominating the rest of the division, boasting an 18-2 record including last month's 4-1 win over the Smurfs. They'll try to tack on another tonight at Nassau Coliseum, in the fourth of five New York derbies this season.
Whatever happens, they'll have to put it behind them quickly as they travel to Raleigh for a game against the Hurricanes tomorrow night.
Calvin de Haan says he's ready to play and isn't happy about still sitting after his face laceration, but the Isles aren't putting him back in the lineup just yet. (Also in that Newsday story: IR updates on Michael Grabner and Kyle Okposo.)
That means the Islanders will use the exact same lineup as in their weekend win over the Blue Jackets, including Jaroslav Halak in goal.
The Rangers, of course, answer with Cam Talbot because Henrik Lundqvist is on IR. Dan Boyle was an illness concern, but it sounds like he's playing -- not that you particularly care.
Coach Jack Capuano in the morning scrum [mp3]:
"I don't know if we've dominated the Rangers. We've had some good bounces go our way."
"Well their game is fast. Their defensemen do a good job of putting pucks to areas where Hagelin and Kreider and those guys skate on to it. There's a certain style we have to play against these guys."
Q: Jack, they've said hat in the past you guys have drawn them into an open game. Do you want to do that?
"No. That's the last thing we want to do when we play teams in our division like them or Pittsburgh. We don't want a track meet. But every game is different. ... They're the ones, to me, that have opened it up a little bit more."
Mutual accusations of track-meetery: Just the latest episode in the decades-long Battle of New York drama.
Leave your First Islanders Goal pick for tonight here. Don't choose de Haan.