By and large the Isles have continued their good form against the Metropolitan Division (Washington excluded), but the Blue Jackets represent the Metro's basement, well back of the crowded mob vying for spots 2-7 in the division.
Jaroslav Halak gets the start, as he did in the two previous visits to Columbus. The Blue Jackets are on a 4-1-1 run backstopped by replacement goalie Joonis Korpisalo (gesundheit!), which has only brought them up to 47 points, good for a three-way tie for last in the NHL with Edmonton and Toronto.
The talk around the Isles have been of demanding consistency while also feeling a little unfortunate about not being rewarded for recent efforts. The game in Washington in particular was a well-played team game through, save for letting Alex Ovechkin free at the most critical time.
The Red Wings loss was poor, though they felt they started well and didn't get any bailout saves for their first period mistakes. In any case, Sunday's laugher over Edmonton was a tonic. Hopefully tonight is the digestif.
This is the Islanders' second meeting with the Johansen-less Jackets. Seth Jones had one shot and minus-1 in the last meeting.
Milestone and Memories
Tonight is Kyle Okposo's 500th NHL regular season game. With Martin Brodeur honors in the news, think back to KO's first NHL goal, helmetless (after a crosscheck from Mike Mottau), one-timer (after a pass from Richard Park), drawing Brent Sutter to make a Sutter face:
As a warmup, check out the latest Islanders Anxiety podcast, won't you? Timeout shenanigans, Hamonic talk, Mike's Islanders security blanket, and the week that anxiously was.
Leave your First Islanders Goal picks here.