The New York Islanders play their final game of March this evening, and it's their final chance to get their first home win of the month.
Not that "March" itself is significant, though it suddenly feels like the way we used to see November 'round these parts. We organize the passing of time and games by months and such only because we are desperate for patterns and organization, but by any measure the past four weeks have been unkind to the Isles.
They've had two winless homestands (though a win today would knock that down to one), they've lost their shot at first place and now second-place is in serious danger, they've lost one-goal games to every contender that's cruised into town, and their lone wins were against two patsies and one first-place team, in Nashville all the way back on March 5.
Tonight they welcome the Detroit Red Wings, who have likewise had a rocky March (5-7-1), but are coming in off a shutout of the high-powered Lightning offense yesterday. The Wings are five points behind Tampa with two games in hand in the race for second place in the (new) Atlantic.
Changing of the Guard
It's not exactly a "goalie controversy," but the Wings have pretty definitively handed the reins to Petr Mrazek, who got that shutout yesterday. Jimmy Howard has been torched recently. Mike Babcock was plain and pithy about the change:
"Everybody in the National Hockey League knows the best guys get to play. If you're playing the best, you get to play. Our players start each game knowing that ... Everybody thinks it's the coach who decides. All the coach does is observe. They decide who plays, not us."
Last Call at Nassau I: Wings farewell
Barring a playoff encounter, this is of course the Wings' last visit to the Coliseum. Former head scout and assistant GM Jimmy Devellano and Chris Osgood share their thoughts on the building from their time with the Isles. Devellano remembers when it was "clean" and new. Osgood remembers it as electric.
Last Call at Nassau II: Landers returns
A cool thing about today that should have you tuning into the radio feed during the second period: During that period, former play-by-play radio voice (1981-97) Barry Landers will have the call. He talks about that, and tells a tale from the Easter Epic in 1987.
Lineups: As you were
With both teams playing yesterday, there wasn't much morning news. But the Wings will start Mrazek again and field the same lineup as yesterday's 4-0 win. The Isles will go back to Jaroslav Halak and use the same lineup, though maybe with some shuffling:
Capuano said he may shuffle his lines again, go back to trios that have had chemistry in the past. Moulson-JT-PAP?— Arthur Staple (@StapeNewsday) March 29, 2015
Hear Capuano audio [mp3] here.
Leave your First Islanders Goal picks here before 5 p.m.