The Islanders close out 2022 tonight with a visit from the lowly but well-rested Columbus Blue Jackets, who bring up the rear of the formidable Metro with 22 points and a .333 points percentage. Ouch.
It goes without saying, but my Bossy the Isles need to take both points from this one. Two impressive 5-1 performances against the Panthers and Penguins sandwiched the Christmas break and renewed belief in what this team can do when it’s clicking. But repeat disappointing losses to weaker teams makes tonight’s matchup a nerve-wracking one.
Adding to the long list of injuries is Oliver Wahlstrom, who didn’t even get an official update from Lane Lambert (other than: he wasn’t pulled from Tuesday’s game for concussion protocol) during yesterday’s post-practice media availability.
It’s next man up yet again, which in this case may be Ross Johnston. For his third NHL game, rookie Aatu Raty may have the unique pleasure of centering Matt Martin and Johnston, if yesterday’s practice lines persist.
No Oliver Wahlstrom at #Isles practice.— Andrew Gross (@AGrossNewsday) December 28, 2022
Fasching skated on Barzal's right wing along with Bailey.
Johnston skated on Raty's right wing with Martin.
Other two lines and D pairs the same.
And who knows...will Cory Schneider get a look?
Leave your First Islanders Goal picks for tonight here.
- Previewing tonight: The Blue Jackets haven’t played since Friday, because their first game after the break with the Sabres was postponed due to the deadly winter storm. [Isles]
- Injury updates and video clips from practice here. [Isles]
- The 17-game stretch between the Christmas and bye-week breaks is pivotal, so it was nice to see the Islanders pick up where they left off. [Athletic]
- More Thomas Hickey! The beloved defenseman-turned-broadcaster is the latest Talkin’ Isles guest. He does cover Lubo and his own OT winners. [Isles]
- It’s taken a lot of injuries, but it looks like Ross Johnston will finally get another chance in the lineup. [Newsday]
- Cats convening with a dog! Alex Romanov and Ilya Sorokin get an invite to the Shesterkin home for Christmas. [Post]
- Shuffling between the AHL and NHL with the Flyers, Kieffer Bellows is embracing the challenge. [The Morning Call]
- Whatever Brett Lindros might have become as a player, we never got to see it because his career was cut short so quickly due to concussions. [The Hockey Writers]
- Bridgeport lost a shootout to the Phantoms, though they continued their points streak against that franchise. [Bridgeport Isles]
Bridgeport has a point in its past 10 visits to Allentown, 6-0-3-1. Unasterisked weird team record. (Had a point in nine consecutive visits to Phantoms, 12/4/13-10/21/16... first three Glens Falls, last six Allentown)— Michael Fornabaio (@fornabaioctp) December 29, 2022
Last night’s NHL scores included the Devils losing in regulation again, and the Penguins falling in OT to the Red Wings.
- Did the Islanders break the Penguins? Pittsburgh followed up their 5-1 loss in Elmont by blowing a four-goal lead at home to the Red Wings. Long talks followed. [Athletic]
- Five potential trade destinations for Patrick Kane. The Isles are mentioned as one, though without substance. [Sportsnet]
- And what will happen to pending UFA trade bait Bo Horvat in Vancouver? [Sportsnet]
- Nonetheless, Bruce Boudreau says the Canucks are finally starting to believe in themselves. [TSN]
- It’s Fine The Leafs Day! Toronto was fined for a CBA violation, traveling during the Christmas break (er, well, shortly before midnight as a storm loomed). [NHL] Their coach Sheldon Keefe was also fined, for separate misconduct, directed toward officials. [NHL]
- At the WJC, Connor Bedard scored seven points in Canada’s rout of Germany. [NHL]
- Marc Crawford is returning behind the bench for his second stint with Zurich. [TSN]
- The Flyers’ Carter Hart is on IR. [TSN]
- Coyotes GM Bill Armstrong is pretty frank about how the team is navigating a major tank-and-build. [Athletic]