Well, just look at these losing bunch of losers: Tonight at the Coliseum, the New York Islanders and Florida Panthers each aim to end two-game losing streaks. Two games is nearly big news this season for the Isles, who hold first place in the Metropolitan Division through 49 games.
They have been remarkably consistent, losing two consecutive games in regulation on only five occasions (six if you count a shootout loss), and extending that to an apocalyptic three only twice.
The Isles now kick off what is a very, very busy February. They do so by welcoming a Panthers team that played, though didn't really travel, last night. Once an outside playoff threat, the Panthers are now nine points back of a playoff spot.
Panthers (21-17-10, 5th/New Atlantic) @ Islanders (32-16-1, 1st/Metro)
7 p.m. EST | MSG+2 (twice the plus!) | WRHU/WRCN
Nassau [gloriously unsponsored] Veterans Memorial Coliseum
Lit in the box: Litter Box Cats
The Isles enter tonight with the same "gametime" lineup questions they had in Detroit on Saturday afternoon: Casey Cizikas is banged up and so might be replaced by Emergency Recall of the Month Colin McDonald. The defense have several members "banged up" [morning audio mp3]" so there could be a late decision to make a switch. Up top, Anders Lee may get his first real try as first-line wing.
However, in Detroit all was normal -- all save for the poor performance on the ice -- and that could be the case tonight too. One change is that number (forty-) one Jaroslav Halak is back in net.
- One Mr. Consistent: John Tavares will play his 400th NHL game tonight. My how time flies. Get that man a Cup.
- One return: Mr. Fisherman. For warmups, at least. Ohhh, the many photos we're about to see.
From the audio link above, a few quotes from the coach follow:
Jack Capuano, on Anders Lee having a turn on the top line:
"On that line you want to have...you know Josh, he's shooting the puck more, but he's not a shot-first guy. John is an elite player. ... The bottom line is you want someone on that line who is gonna create a little more space for those two guys."
On rolling lines, and the busy upcoming February schedule (15 games in 26 days):
"I'm one of those guys, I love our conditioning, I love the battle to make sure everyone's prepared. I think up to this point, we've dictated the pace in the third period every game but one or two, we've played on our toes. But as Johnny would say, we've got to trust in those guys, if they need a rest, they get a rest. Everybody plays different minutes, and we have to analyze that, have good communication with our staff with what we do on and off the ice."
On the maligned and struggling PK...
"We gotta get our PK going. We've talked about it, our guys know, A) We lose faceoffs, B) We don't get the puck deep. I know we are gonna get better. We were 92% in the 13-15 games we played prior to the last few. We know what we gotta do."
...and not letting down after a good first half:
"Knock on wood, we've played some solid hockey this year, and I know we'll continue to do that. You're not always going to get the results that you want, but as long as you continue to compete, that's what I'm looking for. Our work ethic will dictate that scoreboard."
Leave your First Islanders Goal picks here. Select at your own gametime decision risk.