The New York Islanders face the Philadelphia Flyers in a season finale that everyone probably wishes had been played back when it was first scheduled, before the latest Storm Apocalypse struck the Atlantic seaboard.
The Flyers, who are already set to play the Washington Capitals in the first round of the playoffs, can gain nothing from today. The Islanders, who along with Anaheim are the last team to determine their playoff opponent, are more invested in resting up for the first round than they are in making sure they finish third (and face Pittsburgh) than fourth (and face Florida as the top wild card).
This is the Flyers' sixth game in nine nights and the Islanders' fifth in seven, so I wouldn't blame either team for just dressing their general managers in net plus whoever drifts in off the street.
However, one thing the Isles have been great at come playoffs or no playoffs is finding opportunities to get guys their NHL debuts. Alan Quine -- he of the first goal off his knee -- was yesterday's debutante. Tonight it's Ross Johnston.
And that's far from the lone lineup anomaly.
Islanders ( 3rd/Metro or 1st Wild card) vs. Flyers (2nd wild card)
7 p.m. EDT | MSG+
Brooklyn's [ingloriously sponsored but playoff-hosting] Center
Phlying into the Playoffs: Broad Street Hockey
This is how contrived the season finale lineup will be:
Capuano: Greiss will start, no Tavares, no Nielsen, no Okposo, no Boychuk. Martin, Clutterbuck in. Call-ups as well. Greiss won't finish gm.— Arthur Staple (@StapeNewsday) April 10, 2016
That's right, controversial "Good Guy" Award-winner Johnny Boychuk is too good of a guy to play in this one.
That makes for fun lines, including Ryan Strome at center (revisions to official site's lines via Arthur Staple during warmups):
Thomas Hickey - Marek Zidlicky
Calvin de Haan - Ryan Pulock
Adam Pelech - Scott Mayfield
The Flyers, after playing yesterday afternoon, are probably resting some guys too. Who knows. (Arthur Staple says: Claude Giroux, Sean Couturier, Wayne Simmonds.)
All I care about is having someone who isn't necessary for playoff games do something really savage to Radko Gudas. Normally I wouldn't advocate such things, but I have a rule where once you abdicate any concern for your fellow man, I abdicate the responsibility to see you as anything but a video game villain. Gudas continuously plays like he doesn't give a damn about the health and safety of his players association brothers, so like Ulf Samuelsson he deserves whatever might come his way.
Eric Boulton, playing his 654th and possibly final NHL game, wearing an 'A' tonight. Nice touch by #Isles.— Arthur Staple (@StapeNewsday) April 10, 2016
The season First Islanders Goal pick champion has already been clinched (congratulations NYIFanInRI!), but that's never stopped me from making a selection.