The New York Islanders and Carolina Hurricanes meet in snowy Raleigh (yes, snowy) tonight after flying in last night from games further north. The Isles lost a 6-5 gut punch to the Rangers, while the Canes doubled up the Senators 6-3 in Ottawa.
The Islanders have a few lineup changes:
Michael Grabner comes off IR and slots into the lineup for Casey Cizikas (lower body injury). In previous games, that has meant Ryan Strome centers the fourth plus special teams duty, but we'll see how deployment goes tonight. No morning skate for line hints, etc.
- Calvin de Haan returns for the first time since a big skate cut on his face, and Lubomir Visnovsky comes out.
- ...that means Brian Strait, who had an awful game last night -- and is generally the Islanders' worst defenseman -- stays in. Less subtly, Visnovsky tipped one puck past his goalie and was weak defending Derek Stepan's goal. Not clear whether the decision is punishment/merit or gentle handling of the older blueliner, but we'll probably never hear which.
- Chad Johnson is in goal after Jaroslav Halak played, and got lit up for six goals, last night.
When these two teams last met, the season was young but the direction of things was already strongly hinted: The Isles swept the Hurricanes in the season-opening weekend on their way to battling for first place in the Metro Division all season long (well, at least through the first 57 games anyway). The Hurricanes, already bad and soon beset by injuries, launched a season long flirtation with last place, a position they still hold in the Metro.
For what it's worth, the Hurricanes have an NHL-style "winning" record at home of 11-10-3. They'll have Anton Khudobin in net after Cam Ward played last night.