Despite a 3-0-1 record under Doug Weight thus far, there will be more lineup changes in his fifth game as head coach.
As the Montreal Canadiens visit Brooklyn for the Isles’ final pre-All-Star Game match, forwards Shane Prince and Stephen Gionta exit the lineup as healthy scratches to make way for the return of Anders Lee (illness) and Anthony Beauvillier (bruised foot) after one-game absences.
Weight said taking Prince out was a tough decision. "He'll be back in soon."— Arthur Staple (@StapeNewsday) January 26, 2017
Also of note, Thomas Hickey joins Travis Hamonic on the injury list. Hickey was held out of practice yesterday with what they’re calling a lower body injury. This is the durable Hickey’s first absence of the season.
The Canadiens have injuries of their own, as Alex Galchenyuk will miss his second straight game joining Brendan Gallagher, Andrei Markhov and David Desharnais on the injury list.
With Lee out Tuesday, Nikolay Kulemin did well in his spot top-line turn. But Lee will return to the top line with John Tavares and Josh Bailey, and Kulemin will return to the “checking” line with Casey Cizikas and Cal Clutterbuck.
Weight said 27-91-12 and 86-53-15 will be together tonight. Likely 72-29-18 and 16-10-25, but may switch those two lines around.— Arthur Staple (@StapeNewsday) January 26, 2017
Looks like Brock Nelson will center a three-centers line with Beauvillier and Ryan Strome.
Thomas Greiss and Carey Price are the goalies.
If you missed it in post-game coverage Tuesday, or yesterday in Newsday, Weight went into a little bit of what he’s trying to get the team to do, notably having the centers come back lower to build a trio with the D and start breakouts from there. Not much practice time, so step-by-step video work:
“We pulled the casino rules, turned the air all the way up, make it nice and cool in the room and we spent 20-30 minutes on the computer, watching the games, watching our structure and walking through it,” Weight said. “Everyone’s talking.”
And with an overall philosophy of: Playing. In. The Other Team’s. Zone. To paraphrase, he said some people say “oh you’re trying to be more offensive,” but no, it’s really just in today’s game with the speed you need to get the puck up quickly and spend more time with the puck in the opponent’s zone, make them work.
Philosophy as old as the hills, but plays a little different depending on era and coach.
The Canadiens are atop the (New) Atlantic Division standings with 65 points, just 13 regulation losses in 49 games. Injuries have slowed them a bit lately, but they are still eight points clear of the Atlantic’s second-place Ottawa Senators.
The Isles, meanwhile, are atop what is now a comically six-way tie for 11th place in the Eastern Conference. They, the Hurricanes, Sabres, Lightning, Devils and Red Wings all have 49 points, but the Isles have between one and three games in hand on each of those.
More importantly, they are two teams and five points back of the Flyers, who hold the second wild card spot but with three more games played.
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