The New York Islanders and Florida Panthers continue their jockeying for home ice in their respective Eastern Conference divisional playoffs with their final meeting of the season in Brooklyn Monday night.
The Isles have hit a speedbump (0-1-1) but are 7-2-1 over their last 10. That's good enough for...a continued scratch and claw, three points behind the Rangers for second place in the Metro and just two points ahead of the Penguins, whom they'll meet in Pittsburgh Tuesday night.
The Islanders have some good news though: Defenseman Calvin de Haan is back from injury, and Mikhail Grabovski has been activated from injured reserve, though the latter will not appear tonight.
If you're worried by de Haan's "lower body" injury, return, and injury again, perhaps he can reassure you:
"It took a little longer to heal up," de Haan said of his ailment. "It wasn’t really a problem, we were just being cautious and we’re in a good position right now and they want me to be healthy for the playoffs."
Caution is good. There were varying tea leaves over whether this injury was the same of his last one -- Newsday's Arthur Staple turning over what little injury info comes from the club -- but hopefully this one is as stated, healed up with an abundance of caution.
Grabovski's injury was never declared, but sounds like he'll provide another option down the stretch. Hopefully some rest did him well.
Regardless, same forward skaters for the Isles as usual, while de Haan bumps Brian Strait from the lineup and recreates his pairing with Travis Hamonic.
That means Thomas Hickey and Ryan Pulock will be together, a combo many would like to see more of for a third pair.
Thomas Greiss is in net. With the Islanders playing back-to-back, will they try him both nights or toss J-F Berube into the fire in Pittsburgh? That's for tomorrow.
Tonight, it's stop Jaromir Jagr and the many Panthers who are young enough to be his children.
It's also Anders Lee Bobblehead Night, outfitted in green in accordance with the popular holiday and his alma mater.
The Panthers have won both previous meetings, including that insane shootout in November where everybody and their brother scored. The Cats are tied with Tampa for second place in the Atlantic and are one point behind the Boston Bruins but have two games in hand.
Leave your First Islanders Goal picks for tonight over here. Don't choose Strait.