Coming off their first two losses under Doug Weight, the New York Islanders host another team outside the playoff picture but looking to get in.
The Toronto Maple Leafs (57 pts.) are three points ahead of the Islanders (54) and unlike most Islanders opponents these days, they have the same number of games played (50).
So, no games in hand here for the Isles, but perhaps some hope: The Leafs sit just two points behind second wild card holders the Philadelphia Flyers, against whom both Toronto and the Isles have three games in hand.
Point being: Another meaningful game! In February!
Not something you likely expected three weeks ago. But so goes the East this year, where the Flyers once looked like they were part of an impenetrable group of five Metro teams destined for the postseason. Now, instead, a gaggle of teams including the Isles and Leafs are chasing them with some cause for optimism.
Lemme Tell You Why This Guy Here Should Come to Taranna
A visit by the Leafs means the Hockey Credentialed Media Center(e) of the Universe are in town, so that means the usual list of hopeful questions about Islanders franchise center John Tavares one day
selling papers clickbait signing with Toronto.
No worries. He’s been there and he chose the fish.
I bet he’s turned off by the lack of support...
I think the first game I had [in Toronto] over 30 people. Now it's not quite as large.
Tavares had plenty of praise for one of the big logical blocks to him ever going there anyway, that being Auston “I will be really, really rich and cap-hungry one day” Mathews:
"Pretty impressive guy," Tavares said. "Just the way he's been able to handle what comes with playing in Toronto and being a first pick and a lot of people looking to him to be a big part of that franchise for a long time. Really impressive how he handles himself...”
...”which he’s gonna need, ‘cause I sure won’t be helping him,” he neglected to add.
Cal Clutterbuck is still injured, with the injury he had before this one except not the same, kind of. (It’s complicated.) Sounds like they will be cautious and conservative with it and he won’t return for a little while.
So Shane Prince remains in, Thomas Greiss starts in goal for the Isles, while Frederik Andersen is expected in the Leafs net as they begin a traveling back-to-back.
New acquisition Alexey Marchenko is not expected to appear yet.
How To How To How To
Congratulations! Since no one cares about the Leafs in New York (I mean people drive upstate for leaves, but), this one is relegated to MSG+2. Radio is AM970 - The Answer, 88.7FM - WRHU and 103.9FM - LI News
Check more Leafs coverage at Pension Plan Puppets.
Leave your First Islanders Goal picks here.