It’s a 4:00 p.m. start that will be broadcast on national TV: TNT, to be specific. I’m sure that when TNT booked two consecutive Sundays of Islanders games—they played the Tampa Bay Lightning on the network last Sunday—they expected to cover the games of a Stanley Cup contender and possible Metro Division champion gearing up for the [REDACTED].
Instead, they get a battle between one team that has already been eliminated and another that is perilously close. But the Islanders enter today’s contest on a three-game win streak and have played to a record of 11-4-1 in their last sixteen games, and the Devils sport some of the most exciting players in the game, including budding star Jack Hughes. So today’s game at least figures to be entertaining.
First Islander Goal picks go here. Brock Nelson hasn’t scored in a couple of games if you’re looking for a guy to pick.
- Some keys to today’s game include the fact that the home team has won the first three games of this four-game season series. [Islanders]
- Andrew Gross penned a column about the maturity in Noah Dobson’s game and how things seemed to slow down for him so that he could make the plays he has made in juniors. If I had to choose one reason for the Isles’ recent success, and one reason to be most optimistic about next year, it’s Dobson’s emergence.
- Another reason for their recent success has been their extremely effective penalty kill, which ranked fifth in the league by percentage entering yesterday’s play. [Newsday]
- Former Devil Kyle Palmieri has come alive in the last couple of months, but he played well by expected goals all season long; the goals just weren’t falling as he shot 1.9%, which is unusually low by his standards (and most players’ standards). It has since corrected a bit.
- The Zach Parise-Mathew Barzal-Oliver Wahlstrom line had looked good but wasn’t getting the production. Now, it is, and it’s a line that will hopefully remain effective and intact next season. [Newsday]
- This is the first time really that Barzal has had a linemate who was significantly younger than him and where he is one of the veterans on his line. He has also seen his ice time drop a bit with a reduced role as he returned from the first injury of his NHL career. But through it all, he has shown immense maturity both on and off the ice, right down to his hurrying away from an interview so that he could say goodbye and give well wishes to Sasha Kandrach, the Isles website writer whose last day was Thursday. [The Athletic]
- There has been a rumor going around Twitter that Mike Bossy, who has been sick with lung cancer, can no longer walk and has been sent home from the hospital to be with his family in his final moments. It has not been confirmed by anyone with ties to the team but reportedly comes from his family. If it is true, prayers go out to Bossy and his family. But I pray that it is not true.
Yesterday’s NHL scores include the Florida Panthers entering the third period down 6-2 against the same Devils we face today and coming back to tie it and win it in overtime. Perhaps the Devils will be demoralized. That or furious.
- We have our first clinching scenario today, and it involves the Islanders as the ninth-place team.
If the Panthers take at least as many points from their game against Buffalo as the Islanders take from their game against New Jersey, then Florida will be the first team to qualify for the playoffs.— Micah Blake McCurdy (@IneffectiveMath) April 3, 2022
- The Anaheim Ducks have some beef with the refs following Jay Beagle’s vicious cross-check of Trevor Zegras and equally vicious pounding of Troy Terry, who did not appear willing to fight. [Sportsnet]
- The Buffalo Sabres raised a banner in honor of legendary broadcaster Rick Jeanneret, who will retire at the end of the season after his 51st year with the team—meaning he has been the Sabres’ only play-by-play broadcaster throughout their existence. [ESPN]
- The Philadelphia Flyers made Keith Yandle a healthy scratch last night, snapping his iron man streak at 989 games. They need to make way for younger players, but I feel like they should have at least let him hit 1,000. [ESPN]