If the New York Islanders hope to remain in the playoff race—because despite our kvetching yesterday, they're not yet out of it and surely don’t want to be—they will need to start stringing together some more wins. After rattling off three impressive wins on UBS Arena ice sandwiched around Christmas to close out 2022, the Islanders have just one win over a 1-4-1 stretch to open 2023 and have maybe six or eight (of 18 total) good periods of hockey to show for it depending on your level of generosity.
Tonight’s game against the Montreal Canadiens is a prime opportunity to reverse this ugly course. That being said, as Dom wrote in Thursday’s recap, this is the quote-unquote “easy” game of this challenging homestand, which means it’s also ripe for a trap. Coming off this 1-4-1 stretch and having started this homestand 0-1-1 hopefully translates to avoiding the trap; there have been few positive results to lull them into any sort of complacency. But with the Washington Capitals and Boston Bruins coming to Elmont next week, it is imperative that the Islanders earn two points tonight.
Some added inspiration to play their hearts out this evening comes from honoring Islanders deity Mike Bossy. Bossy, as we know, tragically passed away from lung cancer this past April. He would have been 66 next Sunday. So with his hometown Canadiens on Long Island, the Islanders will hold Mike Bossy Legends Night: The first 10,000 fans in attendance will receive a Bossy bobblehead.
"He was really loved as a person. It really touched me & it still does."— New York Islanders (@NYIslanders) January 14, 2023
Josiane is an artist & daughter of #Isles Legend, Mike Bossy. In honor of her dad, she wanted to create something that #Isles fans could have to remember #22. pic.twitter.com/uiiazfhoTz
- A preview of tonight’s game. It will be the Islanders’ first chance to play against 2022 No. 1 overall pick Juraj Slafkovský. [Islanders]
- Perhaps we’ll see some (more!) new lines. Andrew Gross also tweeted that Adam Pelech and Kyle Palmieri came on first as the extras do, and both participated in the team skate. Ilya Sorokin was the first goalie off the ice, so expect him in between the pipes.
#Isles lines at morning skate— Andrew Gross (@AGrossNewsday) January 14, 2023
Johnston and Palmieri (IR) extra Fs
- Andrew Gross agrees: The Islanders need to get their act together. [Newsday]
- Alex Romanov is playing his former team for the first time, but all he cares about are the two points. [Twitter]
- According to Scott Wheeler at The Athletic, the Isles’ prospect pool has moved up from No. 31 to No. 27. It is led by Aatu Räty and William Dufour. He says Räty is the only one with star potential, but while Wheeler can’t guarantee he reaches those heights, he predicts he’ll at least be an NHL contributor. Dufour, as well. [The Athletic]
- Quietly, the Bridgeport Islanders had been on an 11-game losing streak. But last night against the Lehigh Valley Phantoms, Räty scored the overtime winner, assisted by Dufour, to snap the skid.
- The Islanders organization made a $25,000 donation to Island Harvest, and the Isles’ wives and girlfriends helped Island Harvest pack 1,300 backpacks with food. [Islanders]
- On the latest Weird Islanders: The Podcast!, Noel Fogelman stopped by to chat about, as Mike described, “the first can’t-miss prospect who missed,” Justin Mapletoft. [LHH]
Mike Bossy Legends Night
- Mike Bossy’s daughter Tanya doesn’t remember too much of her dad’s career since he retired when she was six, but she says he dedicated himself to being “200 percent dad” when his career ended. [Montreal Gazette]
- Bossy’s family has since taken up the battle against lung cancer. Bossy, despite having quit smoking several years before his diagnosis, was already at Stage 4 when his cancer was detected. His family wants everyone to be aware of the signs. [Montreal Gazette]
- If you’re not going tonight, play Mike Bossy Trivia for a chance to win one of the bobbleheads! [Islanders]
Last night’s NHL scores include the Devils predictably walloping the Ducks, but the Jets got the better of the Penguins in regulation. Thank you and good morning to Winnipeg.
- Pierre LeBrun spoke with San Jose Sharks GM Mike Grier about his trade deadline plans. He says Erik Karlsson and Timo Meier have generated interest. [The Athletic]
- Anaheim Ducks defenseman John Klingberg submitted his ten-team list to the organization. He has not been very good this season. [TSN]
- Unsurprisingly, Connor Bedard is still the No. 1-ranked prospect at the midterms. [NHL]
- Robin Lehner and his wife filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in large part due to the value lost on an exotic snake farm he owns. [SinBin]
- An AHL game was suspended when a fan suffered a medical emergency during the first intermission. Paramedics performed CPR, and she was transferred to a hospital in critical condition. The game was suspended. [NHL]
Extra Space for Vancouver
I’m getting a little sick of writing about them, but like a massive trainwreck, I simply can’t look away. The Vancouver Canucks have to be the biggest shitshow going in sports right now, and this week was particularly disastrous.
For context, early on Thursday, the Canucks tweeted that Tanner Pearson was undergoing a second surgery on his hand and would be shut down for the season. Then, hours later, they “clarified” in another word salad tweet that it was actually his second surgery on his hand since his initial surgery back in November, which was supposed to keep him out only four-to-six weeks. That’s three hand surgeries in three months for those of you counting at home.
After Thursday’s game, Quinn Hughes was asked not about Pearson’s injury, but about his absence, as Pearson is allegedly a popular teammate. Hughes responded, unprompted, that his injury “wasn’t handled properly.”
He walked it back a little bit on Friday, but his comments induced the organization to launch an internal investigation into the handling of Pearson’s injury, one which Rick Dhaliwal reports has led to a serious infection that may keep Pearson out next season, too. Most damningly, though, was that President Jim Rutherford had no idea there was anything wrong beyond a setback, and neither did GM Patrik Allvin nor coach Bruce Boudreau. It took Hughes popping off to actually sound any alarms.
This deep dive by Iain MacIntyre, who initially reported on the internal investigation, goes through all this better than I can and contains quotes. [Sportsnet]