This is a big one, folks. If the New York Islanders want to ensure that they don’t fall out of the playoff race, they need to take two points from the Pittsburgh Penguins tonight and Monday night, and ideally not concede any points to the Pens.
If the Islanders manage to win tonight, they would put themselves in a playoff spot, albeit with more games played than everyone around them besides the Florida Panthers, who beat the Washington Capitals in regulation last night.
They have had that chance before and not taken advantage, but the sense from the team this week is that they actually are recognizing the urgency of their situation. Whether they have the talent to keep up with that effort is another question. However, despite my meltdown in Wednesday’s bits, they are not yet dead.
FIGs go here. Don’t pick J-G Pageau; he's on IR. Also, tonight is a 7:00 p.m. start instead of a 7:30 start, so adjust your calendars and clocks accordingly.
Happy birthday, Seabass.
Help us wish Aho a very happy birthday! pic.twitter.com/zaobUb11c0— New York Islanders (@NYIslanders) February 17, 2023
- A preview of tonight’s hugely big matchup. Tonight is Billy Smith Legends Night, so here’s some Billy Smith trivia, with the potential prize of a bobblehead of the Islanders’ Hall-of-Fame netminder. [Islanders]
- As intimated above, Pageau is on IR with an upper-body injury. Andy Andreoff is up in his stead. [Islanders] The Islanders do have five centers when fully healthy, but splitting Bo Horvat and Mathew Barzal seems unwise; still, they have some things to figure out, now. [NY Post]
- Lane Lambert shuffled his lines again a bit with Pageau out. Casey Cizikas bumped up a line, as did Zach Parise. Josh Bailey dropped down, and Anders Lee will roll out with Horvat and Barzal. Lee could use the spark. [Newsday | amNY]
- He won’t shuffle the D-pairs, though, and they arguably need it more than the forwards. In particular, put Noah Dobson and Alex Romanov back together because the former with Sebastian Aho and the latter with Scott Mayfield just ain’t working. [NY Po$t]
- Early returns on the Horvat trade and sign: He’s good. He’s good on offense, on the power play, and in the room. [The Athletic]
- Stefen Rosner spoke with Horvat yesterday after practice to chat about his adjustment to Long Island and the Islanders. He’s “starting to get more and more comfortable.” [NYI Hockey Now]
- Andrew Gross, on this latest Island Ice, says the Islanders as a whole need to get it together as he wonders whether they will be buyers or sellers or stand-patters as the deadline approaches.
Last night’s NHL scores include the aforementioned Panthers’ win over the Capitals. Also of relevance to the playoff picture, sort of, is the Red Wings beating the Flames for their fifth straight win.
- After that latest loss, the Calgary Flames players, and one very vocal agent in Allan Walsh, publicly criticized the negative culture. Darryl Sutter hasn’t been mentioned explicitly by anyone involved, but it’s clear his grating, negative style doesn’t work on a human level when you’re not winning. [Sportsnet]
- You know who’d look good in blue and orange and knows how to score goals from the wing? Alex DeBrincat. The pending RFA still hasn’t signed an extension with the Ottawa Senators. But sadly, GM Pierre Dorion says he’s not going anywhere. [NHL]
- The St. Louis Blues are open for business, and they might even trade another defenseman, even though all the ones remaining have term. [TSN]
- In this 32 Thoughts, which contains a full 32 thoughts, Elliotte Friedman breaks down the Jakob Chychrun/Vladislav Gavrikov “trade-related reasons” meme. [Sportsnet]
- More non-update updates from Pierre LeBrun about Timo Meier, the Nashville Predators, and Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane. Gotta churn out that content. [The Athletic]
- The NHLPA officially tapped Mahty Walsh, formah mayah of Bahston and now-former Secretary of Labor, as their new Executive Director. [NHL]