In his second game as NHL head coach, Doug Weight is willing to talk about the goaltending.
Or, at least, to try his backup on a weekend where the New York Islanders will play twice in under 24 hours.
With a 6 p.m. start Sunday at home against the Philadelphia Flyers, Jean-Francois Berube will be in net for tonight’s 7 p.m. start against the visiting Los Angeles Kings. It interrupts Thomas Greiss’ string of two consecutive shutouts — under two different coaches — and allows Berube to face the franchise for whom he developed and won an AHL championship.
This will be just Berube’s third start of the season — and first without a third goalie looking over his shoulder.
Boychuk, Ladd, Hamonic Still Out
There could be one other lineup change. Defensemen Travis Hamonic (“week to week”) and Johnny Boychuk, along with forward Andrew Ladd, are still certain injury scratches, but the team reports Cal Clutterbuck (day-to-day like Ladd and Boychuk) is a gametime decision.
‘Meaty’ Hickey the A
As the official site also noted, with those injuries Thomas Hickey wore the “A” for the first time. Said new coach Weight:
"We decided to put it on him, but he knows he's a leader and a lot of guys know they're leaders in there without having letters on.
“Just the way he performs when games are physical or meaty, March, April, May, June he's that type of player," Weight said. "He competes and he's a big piece or our D and our leadership, just a good kid and his voice is heard. That's why our team is going to make a run at this because of guys like that in the room."
Not that any of the above isn’t true -- especially regarding the critically underrated Hickey — but Weight is definitely talking pep, trying to give these players renewed belief that they can climb back into the hunt.
Here Come the Kings
It feels like a lifetime ago, but this second and final meeting follows a Nov. 23 game in L.A. when the Kings won thanks to two quick Dwight King goals in the final minutes in regulation.
Sadly, that was among their best efforts through the first 20 games of the season, and the futility and frustration — already looking too little, too late -- was both a confirmation and harbinger of where things were headed.
Now here they are 20 games later with the same dark spot in the standings, but a new coach and at least a new outlook, if not improved chances at scraping out of this.
The Kings, meanwhile, are just 8-11-3 on the road. So...maybe funky Barclays confines keeps that up.
How to Watch
Tonight is on MSG+ and radio at 660 AM, 88.7 - WRHU, and 103.9 - LI News.
Check Kings coverage at Jewels From The Crown.
Leave your First Islanders Goal picks here by game time, which is 7 p.m. EST. Remember that tomorrow is a 6 p.m. Sunday start.