The New York Islanders and Columbus Blue Jackets are really, really good at winning a little less than half of their games. But tonight and Thursday, NHL fans finally will get a conclusive answer as to which squad can rightly claim to be the Most Mediocre in the Metro.
Leave your First Islanders Goal picks here.
Both are in a state of standings limbo so perfect you’d suspect it was by design: So far behind the playoff teams, and for so long, that there’s not even a “well maybe if there’s an asteroid” thread of hope that they’ll move up.
And yet, they’re so far ahead of the division and conference’s truly putrid teams that it would take a truly awful stretch of hockey to sink down to the conference’s basement dwellers. (I was going to say “bottom feeders” but that’s not right — the Islanders and Blue Jackets are the bottom feeders, reliably collecting points from the floor teams before being eaten alive by the Lightning and Bruins.
Oh, so anyway, these could be fun, close games! It starts tonight in Columbus, before the rematch Thursday on Long Island.
The Isles were off yesterday so there was no official update on Ilya Sorokin’s status, but Cory Schneider was listed on the website so we figure he’ll be the backup tonight.
As for the Blue Jackets, they are also coming off a back-to-back weekend, though they salvaged extra-time points from their double-loss. Follow coverage of them at The Cannon.
- Preview/game notes: The season series is 1-1 so far (well, 1-1 for Columbus, 1-0-1 for the Isles because #NHLmath), but the last meeting was that 6-0 blitz by the Isles on March 10. [Isles]
- The Skinny from Sunday: “Brock Nelson, who now has 199 career goals, has scored 16 goals in 21 games since Feb. 17 – tied with Auston Mathews for the most goals in the NHL in that span.” [NYI Skinny]
- Look out ahead! Zdeno Chara says he still believes the Islanders and wants to stay. [Newsday]
- The Athletic’s Isles beatwriter Kevin Kurz joins Chris Botta’s latest podcast episode, discussing life on the beat so far (and its limitations in our Zoom world), plus whether the Isles can still make a go of it with this core. [Hockey Press Pass]
- Prospect Report: Ruslan Iskhakov starts to get a little momentum in Germany, while in the Q William Dufour snapped a four-game goal drought. [Isles]
Last night’s NHL scores include the Hurricanes torching the Capitals.
- However: With 1.8 seconds left, Jesperi Kotkaniemi received a “ridiculous” hit by Lars Eller and he is expected to miss some time. [ESPN]
- Eugene Melnyk, who saved the Senators but drove fans mad, has died from an illness at age 62. [NHL | Silver Seven]
- The Oilers signed NCAA Minnesota-Duluth goalie Ryan Fanti to a two-year ELC. [TSN]
- A few more college signings and other moves. [AP]
- Mark Giordano gives the Leafs new hope. [Sportsnet]
- Interesting story on how colorblind hockey players perceive the action, and find common bond when they meet one another. 
- The Canadiens GM already thinks Martin St. Louis has done enough where he should stay. [NHL]
- The NHL GM meetings are taking place, and Sheldon Kennedy addressed the group as it focuses on safety and inclusion. [ESPN | Sportsnet]
- Lots of new faces in GM roles, and they loved finally getting to see each other in person. [NHL]
- New GM Kyle (Chicago) and young GM Kyle (Toronto) clear the air after some, ahem, industry disputes. [Athletic]
- The Flyers think they can pull off an “aggressive retool.” Good luck with that, history is not on their side. [BSH]
- Kimmo Timonen dishes on what the Flyers need to do, and Flyers fans are ready to make him GM. [BSH]
- Nino Niederreiter appealed his one-game suspension for some reason and Gary Bettman said no, but thanks for giving me another chance to write an argument. [NHL]
Tage Thompson can do no wrong these days. This OT goal was...something: