Greetings, fellow Islanders hockey serenaders! Hope you had a restful break. I always enter this late-December stretch eagerly anticipating some days off and thinking I’ll get to recharge after a hectic year. But inevitably I forget how this instinct overlooks all the cooking, child-wrangling, schedule-imploding, drinking, and overeating that comes with trying to see every family member and every friend possible in a very short amount of time.
Tonight the NHL returns from its brief Christmas break — a period where the NFL apparently plays 73 games, I learned during my various family visits over the weekend — and the Islanders are one of 28 teams in action tonight as they host the Pittsburgh Penguins for these teams’ first meeting of the year. The Islanders swept last season’s series (teehee).
The Penguins are above “.500” at 15-13-4 and also 7th in the division, because in the NHL both can be true. I would be lying if I pretended not to enjoy watching them age and struggle under their new boy genius GM and savior. But, I’m sure they’ll bottom out briefly and just in time to be gifted the NHL’s next generational talent!
Leave your First Islanders Goal picks for tonight here.
After 33 games, Mathew Barzal is your leading points (35) scorer, Brock Nelson your leading goal (16) scorer, with Noah Dobson and Bo Horvat close behind in those categories, respectively.
- Previewing tonight: The Isles are coming off a win Saturday in Raleigh and aiming to bank more points during this divisional stretch. [Isles]
- Not sure I buy that A led to B, but since Lou Lamoriello said Mat Barzal and Bo Horvat had “more to give,” both have been racking up points. [Newsday]
- For their final Islanders Anxiety podcast of 2023, Dan and Mike discuss reasons to marvel at the current Isles form with so many blueline injuries and guys playing their off-side. [LHH]
- Entering the break in second place in the Metro, are the Islanders living their best life? [Post]
- Before the break and amid a very busy December, Lane Lambert said it would be a welcome respite, a chance to take their minds off the grind. [Newsday | Post]
- With all his minute-logging, Noah Dobson sure deserves the break. [THN]
- Still pulling double duty on the New York hockey beats, Arthur Staple takes questions on the blueline, Oliver Wahlstrom and more. [Athletic]
- Matt Martin, on and off IR, is adjusting to be a healthy scratch. [Newsday]
- Stan Fischler reflects on gratitude and writing about hockey from war-embroiled Israel, where ESPN recently featured him after his recent pieces. [THN]
- World Juniors tracker, Islanders lens. [Isles]
- World Juniors tracker, NHL lens. [NHL]
- The Hurricanes have recalled Antti Raanta back from the AHL, and after watching Pyotr Kochetkov let in all manner of goals against the Isles I can see why. [NHL]
- The Canucks are enjoying their unexpected perch in first, knowing they need to keep proving critics wrong. [Sportsnet]
- Hot but carefully managed Ducks rookie Leo Carlsson is going to miss some time with an MCL sprain. [TSN]
- After a scary exist from their last game, Sean Kuraly is said to be doing okay and just suffering from an abdominal injury. [TSN]
- What would a Leafs analysis be without some big prediction about one of their stars? [Sportsnet Luke Fox Jukebox]
- The NHLPA is expected to appeal David Perron’s six-game suspension for trying to decapitate the wrong guy. [TSN]