The New York Islanders return from Christmas break for a home meeting with the Washington Capitals tonight in what is one of just five games over the next two weeks. After the Isles play every other night heading into New Year’s Eve in romantic Winnipeg, they won’t play again until the following weekend.
So, if you’re a glass-half-just-win-these-three-and-see type of person, well...they need to reel off wins this week to get back toward the top of the East’s have-nots, all of whom are drifting away from the group of eight at the top.
If you’re a glass-half “just drop far enough to get another lottery top prospect to mess up” type of fan, tonight’s opponent is always a challenge, Thursday’s opponent (Minnesota Wild) is on a 10-game win streak, and one can cultre-centrically assume New Year’s Eve in Winnipeg is enough to suck the life out of any team.
Walking to the game, 2 days after Christmas… pic.twitter.com/sqPn5EgxCF— Brendan Burke (@brendanmburke) December 27, 2016
Yep. pic.twitter.com/StPLA3a0G3— Brian Compton (@BComptonNHL) December 27, 2016
Tonight in sunny New York is the fourth of five meetings with the Capitals this season. The previous three featured typically close Isles losses sandwiching one Jaroslav Halak shutout win.
Halak starts tonight too, after Thomas Greiss backstopped the two wins to close out the pre-Christmas stretch.
Capuano said same lineup, Halak in #Isles nets. "The goalie that's playing well is going to play."— Brett Cyrgalis (@BrettCyrgalis) December 27, 2016
Halak hasn’t started since Dec. 13, a 4-2 loss in the last meeting with the Capitals.
The Isles are otherwise fielding their same lineup as Friday’s win over the Sabres, and the Caps likewise have no lineup surprises.
The Caps (20-12-4) have 44 points, tied with the Flyers to take up both wild card spots and three points behind the Rangers for the next spot in the Metro. That’s despite going 7-1-2 over their last 10, because 2016-17 is crazy. Check out Japers’ Rink for more on the Capitals.
The Isles have 32 points, tied for the East’s bottom with Buffalo and one point behind the Devils for Metro caboose.
Hey, if you see Richard, buy him a pint!
Getting ready for my first ever @NYIslanders game. All the way from London. pic.twitter.com/ekuaJXTFpE— Richard (@Year6Teacher_) December 27, 2016
Leave your First Islanders Goal picks here by game time, which is 7 p.m. EST.