The Islanders are in Toronto tonight to take on John Tavares and the Maple Leafs, who have been rolling since they fired Mike Babcock and let Sheldon Keefe take over. The Islanders are coming off a rough loss to the Devils, one where they couldn’t get much going against the team in last place in the Metro. But, they seem to get up for big games, and tonight’s a big one. Obviously the Tavares angle, but also that Toronto is home for some of the guys and the fact that Toronto is playing at a high level over the last month or so.
They will have to head up there missing a key cog in Adam Pelech, though. Shame, too, because he’s from the Toronto area and surely would have had family in attendance tonight.
FIGs can go here. Puck drops at 7:00 p.m.
Keep voting, folks! Ten times a day, send Brock Nelson to St. Louis!
Did you get your votes in today???— New York Islanders (@NYIslanders) January 3, 2020
Vote now! https://t.co/d4A7keoBC1 ⭐️ #BrockToAllStar pic.twitter.com/ioCH0v5GhR
- Of course, as hinted in the blurb, the very big news from yesterday is that the Islanders have lost Pelech for four months due to an Achilles injury that required surgery, meaning he wouldn’t be available until at least the Conference Final. Sebastian Aho has been recalled in his stead. [LHH | Islanders | Newsday | Islanders Insight | NHL]
- Seems that the injury occurred in pregame warmup two-touch, the soccer game most NHL teams play a couple hours before game-time. Where do the Islanders go from here, though? [The Athletic]
- More immediately, let’s preview tonight’s game, shall we?
- Gary Bettman played coy about where the Islanders will play their playoff games this spring when speaking with Evan Roberts on WFAN. [Newsday]
- Old friend Colin McDonald, playing on the top line with Otto Koivula and Kieffer Bellows, scored his first goal of the season, the lone goal in the Sound Tigers 3-1 loss to the Binghamton Devils. [Soundin’ Off pre-game and lines | Sound Tigers post-game]
- Bellows hasn’t scored in a couple of games, which makes sense, since he seems to score in bunches. [Islanders]
- The moment you’ve all been waiting for: here’s Part 2 of Stan Fischler’s epic re-telling of the Easter Epic. [Maven’s Memories]
Here’s a hell of a throwback: Nik Andersson.
Nik Andersson with the nasty dangle #FishermanFriday | @NYIslanders pic.twitter.com/d4c0TK6TT9— Isles on MSG Plus (@IslesMSGN) January 3, 2020
Only two games in the NHL last night. The Stars beat the Red Wings, but of particular importance to us, the Capitals topped the Hurricanes. More importantly, it was in regulation. As much as I’d love to catch Washington, it’s probably more important that teams behind us, like Carolina, don’t catch up to us.
- The NHL has named its All-Star coaches, the coaches of the divisions leaders as of yesterday. Bruce Cassidy (Bruins, Atlantic), Todd Reirden (Capitals, Metro), Craig Berube (Blues, Central) and Gerard Gallant (Golden Knights, Pacific) will man the benches. [PHT]
- Ilya Kovalchuk has finally found a new home, and it’s in Montreal. Canadiens GM Marc Bergevin thinks he’ll be motivated, saying that Kovalchuk knows it’s his last chance to prove himself in the NHL. It’s a league-minimum two-way contract, so it’s not a bad gamble. [EOTP | NHL]
- Stars forward Corey Perry was suspended five games for his dumb Winter Classic elbow to the head of Predators defenseman Ryan Ellis. [NHL]
- Almost a month after his firing, former Dallas coach Jim Montgomery released a statement saying that the Stars were right in their decision to fire him and that he was entering an inpatient rehab facility for alcohol abuse. I can’t imagine he got fired for being an alcoholic, I’m pretty sure they can’t legally do that, but we still don’t know what spurred his firing. [Defending Big D]
- Zdeno Chara, Patrick Marleau, and Joe Thornton are the 12th, 13th, and 14th players to ever play in four decades. Also, Thornton just passed Adam Oates for seventh on the all-time assists list. [NHL]
- This article is mostly about Rick Tocchet of the Coyotes, who led the NHL site’s mid-season poll for the Jack Adams, but Barry Trotz finished second in the voting. [NHL]
- VIDEO: The Lightning’s intermission host pronounced Gary Bettman dead twice in a memorial mix-up with David Stern. [Awful Announcing]