On Monday night with a traditional military-heavy audience for a tribute night close to Veterans Day, the New York Islanders host the Tampa Bay Lightning, the opponents who vanquished them in last spring’s playoffs and have trounced them twice in the past two weeks.
The Islanders’ ties to military-style appreciation — over 1,000 are expected tonight thanks to donations by Islanders players — go back to their founding, and their original home at Nassau Coliseum, which was created on the site of the decommissioned Mitchel Air Force Base.
Their ties to pain at the hands of the Lightning go back this month, last spring and even in 2004 when they were dumped by that year’s Tortorella-led, Stanley Cup-bound bolts team of the None More Black era.
All of which is neither hear nor there except that a loss tonight would be an exclamatio point on how the gap has widened between these two teams, consensus contender and consensus bubble hopeful, since six months ago.
And as if to underline that, the Islanders lineup has the appearance of a desperate man at the helm.
Travis Hamonic is coming back early from a broken hand.
Scott Mayfield, recalled because of the broken jaw suffered by Dennis Seidenberg, will also be in the lineup.
That means seven defensemen and 11 forwards — and not by forced hand, either. Shane Prince and Alan Quine are scratched and no non-healthy reasons have been given.
As to the remaining 11 forwards, Capuano told reporters “whoever is going well will play.”
We are left to conclude that this is some kind of kick in the rump for the lineup, though of course it’s always the least senior players who pay the dues with a scratch.
Meanwhile Jaroslav Halak, the first-string goalie who has been on the trade market for much of 2016 — both creating and complicating a three-goalie system where the third goalie doesn’t play — will get his sixth straight start in goal.
Your 2016-17 New York Islanders.
How to Watch
Though we advise you not to, you can watch this game in person — our Dan and Willhoft will be there as reluctant wittnesses — or on TV as the NHL’s only game on Hall of Fame induction night: MSG+, 660AM, 101.9FM WFAN, 88.7FM WRHU, WRCN 103.9 FM
Leave your First Islanders Goal picks here by game time, which is 7 p.m. EST.