The New York Islanders are home for their usual Columbus Day matinee game as they take on the San Jose Sharks. The Islanders faced off against the Nashville Predators in their home opener on Saturday and fell short by a score of four to three. They had a huge advantage in xGF% in that game overall thanks in part to the penalty differential (somebody please inform Peter Laviolette that playing both Zac Rinaldo and Anthony Bitetto in the same game is probably going to carry that result), but they were outplayed at even strength.
Lineup changes have already been announced for the Islanders - Tanner Fritz is being subbed out for Tom Kuhnhackl, Luca Sbisa heads to the bench for Scott Mayfield, and Thomas Greiss will back up Robin Lehner. Sbisa has the second to worst xGF% relative of all Islanders defensemen in this season’s limited sample size only to Nick Leddy. Leddy was forced to play his offside by Sbisa’s presence, so hopefully the switch back to the left side gets himon track. The line of Fritz, Valtteri Filppula, and Leo Komarov has had the team’s second worst xGF% after the line of Brock Nelson, Anders Lee, and Jordan Eberle, but Fritz had the highest xGF% relative of the three on his line and had contributed more than Komarov offensively. Still, the Bridgeport Sound Tigers have reached their maximum allowed number of veteran’s contracts and with Andrew Ladd’ return imminent, there may not be room for Fritz moving forward.
Robin Lehner will make his first appearance as an Islander as he looks to improve from his days with the Buffalo Sabres. Lehner had a lackluster .908 save percentage last year, but had save percentages in the .92’s the previous two seasons. From an advanced numbers perspective, his dSV% in five on five situations hasn’t been better than a -.45% for the past four years and he’ll need to show considerable improvement if he wants to earn a starting gig anywhere in the league.
The Sharks will be without the presence of certain hall-of-famer Joe Thornton who was placed on the I.R. for what the team called precautionary reasons. Martin Jones was confirmed as their starter earlier today. They come into today’s contest with an xGF% of 59.22% (62.12% in five-on-five situations) and a record of 1-1-0.