The New York Islanders’ four-game Western trip has not started off well. No points, no goals, nothing to show from the first two games in Nashville and Vegas.
Now Monday afternoon they feature an altered look, expecting to debut new acquisition Andy Greene. The thinking is Greene will stabilize the blueline by making Barry Trotz more confident in running out three regular pairs, something he hadn’t done since Adam Pelech’s season was ended by an achilles injury. The Islanders gave up a season-high 20 shots on goal in the second period of Saturday’s loss to the Golden Knights.
Trotz had continued to be careful with his deployment of rookie Noah Dobson, so Greene provides a lefty on the left side and an experienced penalty killer, which is another void Pelech’s injury created.
Despite the bad start to their trip, the Islanders enter today still in a non-wild card playoff position, in third place in the Metro and with three games in hand on Columbus, who also have 72 points. Close behind are the Flyers and Hurricanes, who have played two and one more games than the Islanders, respectively.
The Coyotes have cooled off after a big first third of the season but remain in a wild card spot and in the thick of a five-way Pacific dogfight. They begin today in 5th place in the Pacific and yet just four points off the division lead.
Like the Islanders, they are surviving through some important injuries, with Darcy Kuemper and Jason Demers each on IR. But they still have Taylor Hall, who the Islanders will face in a desert uni for the first time.
The Coyotes are coming off a big win over the Capitals on Saturday, when they joined the parade of teams keeping Alex Ovechkin from hitting 700. Follow the latest on the Coyotes over at Five for Howling.