The Nashville Predators are performing above the expectations many had for them, and Matt Duchene is back to being a top performer. Ryan Johansen appears to be back in form, too. They’re fourth in the Central, just one point behind the Avalanche and Blues. And they make their first visit to the new arena at Belmont Park tonight. Catch up on Predators news at On the Forecheck.
The Islanders, 6-10-5 with a paltry 17 points, have actually earned points in four straight. Following two OT losses and a shootout loss, they finally ended their 11-game winless streak with a win over the Senators.
This is the return meeting on the schedule, as you might remember In The Before Time when the Islanders visited Nashville just before Halloween and lost in the shootout.
Barry Trotz was asked if seeing bodies back is making things feel normal again. “It does a little bit, because we’re starting to play games at a regular pace, getting some faces back. We’ve gotta get everybody back.”
Casey Cizikas (COVID) and Brock Nelson (hip or “lower body”) joined the morning skate but are still “days” away and won’t dress tonight.
He was also asked about Ross Johnston filling in for Matt Martin. He cited Johnston’s improvements and better speed, how the Identity Line hasn’t looked itself this season, and that Martin is still dealing with his injury that required offseason surgery. He also had praise for Zach Parise as a “true pro” and filling in at center for Casey Cizikas.
Full media availability:
Trotz Pregame Availability pic.twitter.com/zrVes64g3y— New York Islanders (@NYIslanders) December 9, 2021
Sounds like he’s high on Johnston lately, so I don’t envision him coming out of the lineup yet. And while there is a plan to balance the load with Ilya Sorokin and Semyon Varlamov, will Sorokin get the nod since he was in net for the long-awaited win?
Gametime is 7:30.