The New York Islanders wrap up their latest four-game road trip tonight against the Chicago Blackhawks, who are competing with the San Jose Sharks to see who can be more historically futile. Hmm, refresh my memory. How did that game last month against the Sharks go again?
Although that Sharks game was frustrating because it was perhaps the most egregious of their several blown leads this season, it was ultimately forgivable because it took place during an extended run of banking points. It’s hockey; it happens.
On the other hand, a loss tonight would not be forgivable. When a team has been struggling the way the Isles have for the last few weeks and the schedule deals a hanging slider, that team needs to knock it out of the park. I mean for the love of God, with Connor Bedard still out of the lineup, Chicago’s best player tonight might be… Jason Dickinson?
At this stage, the Islanders just need to secure two points by any means necessary. Handing away a point to a Western Conference opponent and a bottom feeder doesn’t really matter. But it would be better for their psyches—and maybe ours, too—if they delivered a calm regulation win where the outcome was never in doubt.
- Lane Lambert may scratch Mike Reilly, I’d guess because he took two penalties on Tuesday. But aside from the stupidity of it from a tactical standpoint, Reilly, though raised in Minnesota, was born in Chicago. Perhaps there is family there he’d want to see him play?
- After calling up Kyle MacLean, the son of assistant coach John MacLean, it looks like he will make his NHL debut tonight. It’s a family affair. [Islanders]
- Pierre Engvall did not skate yesterday in practice, so I guess he really is injured. [Isles DTD]
- If Engvall is going to be out any significant length of time, as much as I love Hudson Fasching, he is not a second-liner. Ruslan Iskhakov ought to get the call. [THN]
- In his return from a long injury absence, Adam Pelech is still trying to find his groove. He has improved steadily in each game, though. [NY Post]
- Less than a month away!
Outdoor hockey awaits. pic.twitter.com/d1G0XfETAN— New York Islanders (@NYIslanders) January 19, 2024
Last night’s NHL scores include regulation wins for the Flyers over the Stars—thanks for the help, supposedly elite Dallas—and the Capitals over the Blues, powered by a TJ Oshie hat trick against his former team. But at least the Golden Knights smacked around the Rangers.
- Minnesota Wild captain Jared Spurgeon, the one Garth let get away, will undergo two surgeries and miss the rest of the season. [NHL]
- After a prolonged stretch of excellent, the Los Angeles Kings have been abysmal for the last ten games. But GM Rob Blake says coach Todd McLellan isn’t going anywhere this season. [NHL]
- The other night, Lindy Ruff got mad at a reporter who asked him a legitimate question about why Alexander Holtz wasn’t getting a lot of ice time despite scoring. [NJ.com]
- Nikita Kucherov is playing at an MVP level right now. [NHL]
- On the other hand, John Tavares is slumping hard right now, not scoring a point in five straight games. Teehee. [TSN]
- Relatedly, with the Maple Leafs’ struggles, Sheldon Keefe’s seat is getting rather toasty. [Sportsnet]
- Before this season, it was a matter of ‘when’ Alex Ovechkin would break Wayne Gretzky’s goal record. Now, it’s a matter of ‘if.’ [TSN]
- The PWHL is already experiencing success “way beyond” what they anticipated at this stage. [Sportsnaut]
- 11 teams facing a cap crunch or cap issues, including our beloved Islanders, who have tied up a lot of money in an aging core, so goes the criticism. [The Athletic]