After a mammoth NHL trade deadline, the completely overhauled New York Islanders (I kid) get back in action tonight with a visit from the Ottawa Senators (25-35-5). The Isles won the previous two meetings of this three-game season series.
Cal Clutterbuck, who was scratched for “maintenance” last game and then rewarded all of our speculation with a two-year contract extension, remains out. Andy Greene, who was scratched/maintained for Sebastian Aho in that sleepy 2-1 loss in Philadelphia, is expected to be back in.
Unlike the Standing Very Pat Islanders, the Senators moved some pieces at the deadline — they got Travis Hamonic! — but it was mostly tinkering.
The Isles, meanwhile, are in this wonderful limbo that is the 2021-22 season: Finally just a hair over NHL .500, their playoff chances are up in smoke because of a poor first half and the fact that their main playoff rivals are all on pace for 100-point seasons.
The Islanders, after 60 games, sit at 61 points.
Lou Lamoriello is often quoted as saying, “if you have time, use it.” The longtime NHL GM is taking that thought to the extreme this season, as he’s decided the first 3/4ths of the season were essentially a mulligan, simply not enough time, and he is doubling down on this aging group being able to make a go of it one more time, next season:
“This [trade deadline inactivity] is an indication that we believed in the group prior to coming in here, we still believe in it and now we’ll find out one way or the other over this period of time before the end of the season.”
The Isles are basically saying this would be a really attractive house if it were in a less pricey neighborhood and if that giant oak hadn’t crashed through the roof.
It’s a theory, it’s one we should’ve understood they would follow all along, and we have a summer and a season to watch and see if it is at least viable enough for Playoffs 2023.
Meantime, games! Twenty-two more, including tonight’s 7:30 p.m. start at Belmont.