The New York Islanders gained five standings points in their first three games under new interim head coach Doug Weight, but the second half of this six-game homestand turns the challenge up to 11: Second-place Columbus visits tonight, followed by Atlantic leaders Montreal on Thursday, and concluding with the league-leading Washington Capitals on Tuesday after the All-Star break.
At least according to Thomas Greiss, Doug Weight’s activities in his first week as top dog include minor changes in approach on defense, and a little more aggressive approach in the offensive zone.
Among the other changes, perhaps: Willingness to sit a player for a few shifts after a costly mistake — though the target last game, tying-goal villain Ryan Strome, is not new.
Weight gave the players yesterday off the ice to take a break from a busy, emotional week after the firing of Jack Capuano. Also, a chance to review video from their first three games.
"I see a different vibe among the players and it's showed in their play,” he said, according to Jamie Stuart of News 12 LI.
The overtime loss Sunday to the Flyers was close, and perhaps a different “vibe” was present, but it left questions as to whether a few changes, tweaks, and emotional/chemistry boosts would be enough to overcome what many see as a flawed roster.
These teams last met in the middle of the Jackets’ epic win streak, which included a 6-2 Columbus win thanks to a four-goal third-period explosion.
Tonight marks the return of Andrew Ladd after missing four games with a nagging injury, though there was evidently not a difficult lineup decision to be made to make room: Anthony Beauvillier has a sore foot from a shot block and Anders Lee (illness) is a question mark.
Save your lineup rage for another day.
Lee did make the morning skate, however, so expect him to play. Thomas Greiss starts in goal.
The Blue Jackets also went to overtime on Sunday, though there’s was quite a contrast to the 3-2 slogfest on the Barclays Center ice: a 7-6 marathon win over the Ottawa Senators.
The Jackets have been battling a flu bug and some blueline injuries, but their key defensemen are all present and accounted for. Sergei Bobrovsky will start in goal.
For more CBJ coverage, check The Cannon.
Catch tonight’s game on MSG+, or on radio at AM970 - The Answer, 88.7FM - WRHU or 103.9FM - LI News.
Leave your First Islanders Goal picks over here by game time, which is 7 p.m. EST.