For the 3rd time in the past 6 days the Islanders will play the Devils for an Atlantic division match up. The two teams split the first two games in the series so with baseball season approaching I will consider this the rubber match with the winner of this game winning the series. The Islanders will look to rebound from Thursday night’s embarrassing lose to the Devils and get back to some winning ways.
The Islanders come into the game still only seven points out of a playoff spot with 15 games left to play. This doesn’t leave any room for bad play if the Islanders want to be serious about making the playoffs. The lines may change slightly from Thursday’s game as Matt Martin is questionable. He left Thursday’s game early and wasn’t allowed to travel back to Long Island with the team due to a sickness. I have not heard a report yet this morning about his condition and whether or not he will play tonight. If he doesn’t play then Grabner will be placed back in the lineup. Grabner I feel was missed in the last game with the Devils (healthy scratch) because to beat the Devils defense you need speed and to have our fastest skater in the press box doesn’t help the situation.
The New York Islanders earned two points against the Boston Bruins at the TD Garden before starting a three game series with the New Jersey Devils. Josh Bailey, Matt Moulson, and John Tavares all scored for the Islanders who picked up their first win since last Friday's 4-3 shootout victory against the New York Rangers. With the victory, the Isles moved within 7 points of the East's eighth playoff spot, but the standings are subject to change since New York played an early afternoon contest.
While the New York Islanders must be content with the effort that they put forth against the Bruins, the team knows they have a tough challenge to face when they play their first of three games against the Devils in less than 24 hours. Evgeni Nabokov might get the nod for his second start in two days as he did not look too tired during the post-game conference and was very sharp against a Bruins team that put up 34 shots on goal. Even though Nabokov came under siege at times, he was equal to the task and made some brilliant saves at key points of the contest.
Rick Nash won't be donning an Islanders jersey tomorrow night; the Islanders didn't get a first round pick for Evgeni Nabokov and/or P.A. Parenteau; Al Montoya will still be on the bench to back up the Islanders number one goaltender; and the defensive play of Mark Eaton, Milan Jurcina and Steve Staios will still be seen for the rest of the season.
Staios, despite popular reports from a fake twitter account, was not dealt to the Vancouver Canucks for a 6th round draft pick.
BUT Garth Snow did manage to rid himself of the putrid play of Brian Rolston and the defensive relapses of Mike Mottau. Both were sent packing to the Boston Bruins for a couple of prospects; Yanick Riendeau and Marc Cantin.
Ah, the Ottawa Senators. Islanders fans would like to forget this past Monday's game against them. You remember...the matinee? Yeah, I want to forget, too.
The Ottawa Senators are probably one of the most underrated teams in the NHL right now. A team in which everyone thought could be one of the worst teams in the history of the NHL before the season started. But look at them now; They are in seventh place in the East and I'm convinced that they will make a huge playoff run.
The stage was set for an emotional carry over into Saturday morning regardless of the outcome of Friday night's Islanders/Rangers game; a win for the Isles against their biggest rival and top team in the Eastern Conference would keep their playoff hopes alive, but a loss to their number one foe would have been a crushing blow to their confidence and chances.
Fortunately, the orange and blue would come on top with a 4-3 shootout victory with Matt Moulson netting the finally tally in the fourth round.
Tensions were high at the start of the game and Matt Martin decided to ease things up a bit by fighting Stu Bickel just over two minutes into the game. Both got their licks in before Martin swung and missed, falling to the ice to end the fight early. A fair draw would set the tone for how evenly the game would be played.
The New York Islanders went from potential playoff contenders to looking towards next season within 48 hours earlier this week.
Having the best team in the Eastern Conference coming into your building after being shutout in their last game, isn’t what the doctor ordered.
After two terrible performances against Ottawa and Buffalo on Monday and Tuesday, the Islanders welcome in their cross-river rivals the New York Rangers on Friday Night.
The Rangers are leading the Eastern Conference with 81 points, 7 points ahead of both New Jersey and Boston. They travel to Long Island after being blanked by the Pittsburgh Penguins 2-0 on Tuesday night. Henrik Lundqvist continued his stellar play making 29 saves in the losing effort. After an 8-1-1 stretch, the Rangers have lost two of their last three games.
Thomas Vanek and Tyler Myers both scored and Ryan Miller made 30 saves as the Sabres spoiled interim head coach Doug Weight’s coaching debut 2-1 on Tuesday Night.
Weight was appointed interim head coach for the game as head coach Jack Capuano dealt with a flu that has ravaged his lineup in the past three games. Evgeni Nabokov missed his third straight game dealing with the illness.
An all too similar start to the game forced the Islanders into an early 1-0 hole. Tyler Myers opened the scoring just 1:21 into the game. After a initial stop on Derek Roy, Myers found the rebound and snapped it over a prone Kevin Poulin. For the second straight game, the Islanders fell behind within the first 90 seconds.
Per Arthur Staple of Newsday via Twitter: "Evgeni Nabokov's agent, Don Meehan, tells Newsday that contract talks with #Isles will likely start soon."
And the Twitter feeds went wild. Nabokov, who is currently sitting due to the flu, could possibly return in an Islanders sweater for the 2013 season. Who would have thought that this would be the case a year after Nabokov was claimed off of waivers by GM Garth Snow and then failed to report?
Nabby has a 14-14-0 record with a 2.24 GAA and a .925 save percentage. His stats are pretty solid for a goalie that has been playing on a team with a fragile defense and an offense that started off terribly and currently sits as the fourth worst team in scoring in the league. With the Islanders six points out of the playoffs, his ability to steal games, much like his 45 save shutout performance against the Philadelphia Flyers, has allowed Nabokov to become the main piece between the pipes for a late season playoff push. (Photo Credit: Robert Kowal/Flickr)
The New York Islanders future has always been uncertain when it's come to whether or not they will remain in Nassau County when the lease expires in 2015. Christian Arnold of Islanders Hockey Blog wrote an excellent piece since he was able to attend a public meeting at the Nassau County Legislature as a group of developers met to discuss the possibility of developing the hub in 2015, with or without the New York Islanders.
The Republicans have done their part to thwart owner Charles Wangs' efforts to get a new arena and the Democrats have thrown road blocks of their own, putting the Islanders in a position where Vince Polimeni of ABLI (A Better Long Island) has the upper hand in developing that giant parking lot into a place that doesn't contain an NHL hockey team. And Polimeni isn't the only one that has come to this realization; other developers have been drawing up their own proposals (Read Arnold's blog for more in-depth coverage).
2015 may be three years away, but it will be here a lot quicker than most may realize, regardless of your position on the topic. But 2013 is a lot closer, and the future of the Islanders success may get worse. (Photo Credit: clyedorama/Flickr)