The New York Islanders begin a big home-and-home with the Carolina Hurricanes tonight in New York, where if you’re outside the region or living under an East Coast-free rock, they are expecting yet another snowmageddon*.
(*no, not the Garth kind)
Something like 50 million people — that’s like two-and-a-half Mexico Cities! — are expected to experience a foot of snow or more. Thankfully for the Isles and anyone headed to Barclays Center, the storm isn’t expected to hit until the overnight hours.
So pending a six-hour delay for an offside review pending coach’s challenge, the Isles should be able to play this one, text their families “good luck with all that. shovel’s in the garage” and get out of town for the second leg in Raleigh.
And now, after we’ve played up the weather drama just like your local newscast, we turn to sports.
Take it away, Rex. You have 30 seconds:
“Well the road-weary Isles are back in New York for some home cooking against the Miami or excuse me Carolina Hurricanes in a hot Metropolitan Division battle. For those who don’t know, the Isles are not the Rangers, and the Hurricanes are not a basketball team. Tip-off is at 7:30 p.m. Good seats still available.
“Bob, back to you.”
Thanks, Rex. You know that reminds me last time I went to a snowball fight, a hockey game broke out. Nyuk nyuk. But anyway, here’s Liza with a heartwarming story about a cat, a blind veteran and their fight with city hall.
Lineup News: J-F Berube’s Very Big Day
Look, the coach said it, not me.
It’s a “big night” for Jean-Francois Berube, per interim head coach Doug Weight, who mixed “I have confidence” with a side of “gotta be good” about the Islanders backup goaltender, who frankly has not put up confidence-inspiring numbers.
Weight said it's a "big night" for Berube. "I feel very confident in J-F, but he's gonna have to be good for sure." #Isles— Brian Compton (@BComptonNHL) March 13, 2017
We’ve written a ton about this, and our comment section frequently fills up about it until we’re drained from repetition, but it’s a curious thing, the Isles’ devotion to Berube despite few occasions to demonstrate why.
With games on consecutive nights, and Thomas Greiss starting all nine games (and being pulled twice) on the just-concluded road trip, Berube draws one of the starts against the Hurricanes tonight.
If he falters? Jaroslav Halak — who was pulled on Saturday but has otherwise been excellent in AHL Bridgeport — surely waits in the wings. Garth Snow may be stubborn, but he usually, eventually, comes around when conventional wisdom gives him a stern look for long enough.
The only other change is Adam Pelech back in for Scott Mayfield, who played Saturday in St. Louis, his hometown.
It was a costly road trip for the Isles, who are still without Casey Cizikas, Shane Prince, Alan Quine and Johnny Boychuk. At least Travis Hamonic returned mid-trip though, allowing for continued rotation of Pelech/Mayfield as needed.
The Hurricanes will welcome center Lucas Wallmark, a 2014 fourth-round pick out of Sweden, for his NHL debut. In his first year in North America, he’s been leading the Hurricanes’ AHL affiliate in Charlotte at age 21.
Wallmark replaces Valentin Zykov, who like Brock McGinn will miss both games. Phillip Di Giuseppe is day-to-day.
Cam Ward starts for them in goal.
Stakes: Every Night, Must-Wins
The Islanders’ loss in St. Louis Saturday dropped them to a point behind the Leafs for the last wild card spot. It seems every day is a win-and-keep-pace, lose-and-fall-behind scenario.
Right now the Lightning are two points (73) behind and the Flyers are five points back. But as we know having seen the Hurricanes drop from contention well above the Isles to a state of “well, back to spoiler mode,” things can still change quickly.
The Flyers host the Blue Jackets tonight, the Lightning are at Madison Square Garden.
Tonight’s game is on NBC Sports in the U.S. at 7:30 p.m. EDT.
Leave your First Islanders Goal picks here by then.
Check out Hurricanes coverage at Canes Country.