The New York Islanders host the Washington Capitals for the first meeting of the season with their Metro and fellow wild card rivals. It’s a pretty big one, and the Isles need to salvage more from this 1-1-1 home stand that concludes later this week against the juggernaut Bruins.
Currently the Capitals (52 points) and Islanders (49) are in the East’s two wild card spots, though the Penguins are right behind (48 points) and have multiple games in hand. The Isles enter the night trailing the Capitals by three points with one game in hand.
But tonight’s game aside, yesterday in the NHL was one of those “more than just a game” days, as news spread that former longtime Vancouver Canuck (and Islander, Flyer and Canadien) Gino Odjick died at age 52, about 10 years after physicians told him he had maybe a year to live.
I don’t remember much of Odjick’s couple years as an Islander — it was a turbulent time, he was dealt here by Mike Keenan a day before the Islanders and Canucks met, and Odjick and fellow trade mate Jason Strudwick fought.
More memorable is how beloved Odjick was by Canucks fans, how his career ranged from the fierce fighter role to occasionally riding shotgun with Pavel Bure. His early-career penalty shot goal against Mike Vernon was legend. He was on that Canucks team that went all the way to the Stanley Cup final in 1994 until the league decided not to award the Cup to anyone that year. More on Odjick in the links below.
For tonight’s game vs. the Capitals, leave your First Islanders Goal picks here.
- Previewing tonight...the Capitals are coming off a 3-1 loss to the suddenly not-automatic-pushover Flyers. [Isles]
- It’s a key matchup (one that we’ll see more of soon) for the wild card race. [Newsday]
- When asked, pending UFA Scott Mayfield reiterates his love for Long Island and being with the Isles. [Post]
- If he thinks this team can go somewhere (rather than retool), Lou Lamoriello needs to make big roster decisions sooner than later. [Fourth Period]
- Lane Lambert says shooting the puck actually on net is kind of important. [Newsday]
- In the latest Islanders Anxiety podcast, Mike and Dan discuss a disappointing week and a disappointing handling of the 50th anniversary season thus far. [LHH]
- It’s Mental Health Night at the game. [Isles]
- Leftovers from the win over the Canadiens: Three takeaways [Isles] Recaps from us, the Post. The Isles finally rewarded Ilya Sorokin with a win. [Athletic]
On Gino Odjick:
- “Born in Maniwaki, Quebec ... of Algonquin heritage and grew up on the Kitigan Zibi Anishinabeg First Nation reserve about 140km north of Ottawa.” Here’s a profile of Odjick on his induction into the British Columbia Sports Hall of Fame. [BC]
- And here’s a tribute in the Province.
- Odjick had been diagnosed with a terminal heart condition in his 40s, though treatments extended his life well beyond the initial prognosis. He was grateful for every moment.
- “Maybe it was meant to be.” On the night Odjick died, Ethan Bear, a fellow Indigenous NHLer who looked up to Odjick, scored an important goal in Vancouver’s win over Bear’s former team. [Sportsnet | Province]
In Sunday’s NHL scores, the Canadiens went from the loss on Long Island to dumping the Rangers in regulation at the Garden. Tee hee.
- Alex Ovechkin tied Mike Gartner’s mark for the most 30-goal seasons (17!) in NHL history. [NHL]
- The Bruins, another Isles opponent on this homestand, have signed pending UFA Pavel Zacha to a four-year, $19 million deal. [NHL | TSN]
- More waiver parties: The Red Wings put goalie Alex Nedeljkovic on waivers, and the Panthers do the same to Zac Dalpe. [TSN]