After being in position to “control their destiny” in the playoff race earlier in the month, the New York Islanders close out March looking like they are just playing out the string.
With six games to play, they’re six points back of the wild card-holding Bruins, the team who beat them in a pivotal pole-position meeting six days ago in Brooklyn, then proceeded to beat the Predators after the Isles fell to them, also in Brooklyn.
True, with a game every other night over the season’s final 10 days the Isles can still change the direction of things, but they now have company in the Flyers (82 points, same as the Isles) and Hurricanes (84 points) in addition to the Lightning (85) in a quartet of teams chasing the Bruins (88 points).
Last night’s performance in Philadelphia was not the stuff of “crazed dogs,” unless crazed dogs roll over and go to sleep after a frenetic six weeks of terrorizing the neighborhood.
It’s the second half of a traveling back-to-back so we’ll see if the team has any updates closer to game time. Travis Hamonic left last night’s game with an “upper body” injury after that fight which is...well, it confirmed my fears upon seeing him drop the gloves for Momentum’s Sake.
He didn’t return, and Arthur Staple reported him appearing with a cast on his arm after the game, so...
Thomas Hickey and Scotty Mayfield were the scratches on the blueline last night as Johnny Boychuk returned, and both* goalies saw action in the blowout.
*sorry, two of the three goalies
So, while waiting for lineup news...
(UPDATE: we have them now: Hickey lives! Thomas Hickey is in for Hamonic, Shane Prince is in for Casey Cizikas (upper body), and Jaroslav Halak starts in goal.)
...let’s have fun with Doug Weight Reactions from last night:
More Weight: "It’s not like they make tic-tac-toe plays – they had four chances in the first and it’s 5-0. Four! Do the math."— Arthur Staple (@StapeNewsday) March 31, 2017
And, lastly, Weight: "And it’s absolutely floating, not engaged with anything...We worked, but it doesn’t really matter. A piss-poor first."— Arthur Staple (@StapeNewsday) March 31, 2017
I’ve no idea where this team is headed from here (well, some idea; it’s not my first season in their captivity), and I still don’t know Weight’s potential as a long-term head coach, but regardless it’s probably good for his own future decision-making to experience a rut like this.
Sucks for the season, of course. But it’s a good reality check for him, since things started so rosy at the beginning of his tenure.
For the Devils, sounds like Keith Kinkaid will start in goal and Michael Cammalleri will return to the lineup after a 13-game injury absence.
This game is on MSG+ (Isles feed) and MSG+2 (Devils), with radio on AM970, 88.7FM, and 103.9FM.
Leave your First Islanders Goal picks here by game time, which is 7:30 p.m. EDT.