Deer Park – NY Unfortunately for this writer my trusty, never leave home without her thesaurus is out of terms to say “this is a big one.” With the shortened season, and only in-conference games every night I feel it redundant to say how big of a game it is tonight in sunny south Florida.
However far be it from me to shy away from obvious hypocrisies, so… Tonight is by far the Isles biggest game of the year (till Tuesday vs Sens of course). No, but seriously tonight is one of those cross roads game.
This one is huge for some new, different, and pleasant reasons the likes of which I understand will take the Islander fan a little while to adjust to. She’s not a huge tilt due to positional standings, not for the 8th and final spot like if we were playing say the Rangers. Or even a falling team that we could reach and pass like the Senators or Leafs. No tonight’s game is huge for that 6 inch space that can ruin or make a team where the games are truly won, between the ears.
Tonight’s game is a statement game as to how we as a team see our ourselves. Tonight is a game that will shape the atmosphere around our organIzation for not only the rest of this season, but for our club going forward as a whole. And there is nothing more important than controlling the atmosphere!
Tonight we can chose to leave behind and never to look back upon (in the John Tavares era, and yes he’s that good) the bottom, draft lottery, portion of the league standings. Tonight we can shed the “old Isles” and enjoy the “new”.
The Isles take on the Florida Panthers at 7:30 PM in a game we SHOULD win. The Panthers come into the game a Seth Jones favorite 7-15-6 for 20 points last in the Prince of Wales and the league as well.
They are last in the league with a mind boggling 105 goals against. Not that we should be talking to anyone about goals against, we have after all allowed 88 tied for 29th, but we had 88 heading into Tampa as well Atta boy Nabby !!! And no matter how you slice it 88 is a lot better then 105
It has been a rare feeling in the Snow era that we take the ice in the mental position that “we can’t lose to these guys”. Makes one wonder how often teams have seen us on the schedule and pondered that very same thought over the past 20 years? But I digress…
After the past 2 weeks I truly feel this isn’t the same ‘ole Islanders. The Isles are 4-1-2 in their past 7 earning 10 out of 14 possible points finding us at the ever elusive .500 mark of 12-12-3 with 27 points 10th in the Wales 3 points behind the Jets (whom are very, very big, and very good btw).
Florida has hit the skids in March compiling a record of 1-6-1 thus far and tonight is their 9th game in only 16 days. In their defense they have been beseeched by injury, but their play has of late been in a word uninspiring, and they are the poster boy for my every growing “Beach hypothesis”. http://eyesonisles.com/2013/03/14/1-21-gigawatts-isles-bolts-pre-game-notes/
The injury bug which the Isles had done a good job avoiding thus far this campaign has begun to bite. First Michael Grabner with the shoulder, and now David Ullstrom is sidelined 3-4 weeks with a severe groin strain. Someone get that number to the exterminator and get this infirmity expelled, now , thank you.
A Star is Born:
Now I know I kind of dismissed the Panthers as though we are so far removed for the 30th spot in the league. I guess us Islander fans are certainly nouveau riche. However the Panthers future is quite bright (no pun intended).
They do have in their stable one of the NHL brightest young rising stars. Jonathan Huberdeau the 3rd overall selection in 2011 is leading the Panthers in goals with 12 and tied for team lead with 17 points. This 19 year old is certainly proving that he not only belongs in the league, but that he will one day be a shining star down on the beaches of Miami (pun intended). Huberdeau coupled with most likely at least a top 3 pick this season, and the turnaround in FLA all be it years off is well underway.
The Isles are coming off of what one could argue as their best all around performance Thursday night in Tampa. Here is a perfect opportunity to shed the “inconsistent” label that best describes this .500 club.
Isles need to return from their sunny get away with 4 points in their pocket anything else but 2 points tonight is a disappointment.
- Jesse Joensuu is finally all the way back from his sports hernia he suffered during the lock out he is to take the place of the injured David Ullstrom. Joensuu was expected to make the roster at the start of the season, and the Isles like his size and mean streak he brings on a nightly basis. He’ll be sporting #6 tonight look for him to be on the revamped yet again 3rd line between Marty Reasoner, and Keith Aucoin.
- Congrats to Colin McDonald who inked a 2 year 1.275 million dollar deal with the Isles locking him up for the next two seasons. McDonald a career minor leaguer has really found a home on the fourth line with Casey Cizikas and Matt Martin. His energy and physical presence on the fore-check really helped him to now call the Island home. Prior to this season the 28 year old Weatherfield, CT. native only had played 7 games in the NHL. Congrats to a guy who has truly made the most of his opportunity and the most of our 4th line.
- Isles projected lines for tonight’s match-up
6 Jesse Joensuu – 16 Marty Reasoner – 10 Keith Aucoin
17 Matt Martin – 53 Casey Cizikas – 13 Colin McDonald
20 Evgeni Nabokov
- Keep an “eye” on that 1pm Ranger-Penguin game. Should the Rangers lose to the Pens then tonight’s Isles-Panther tilt will be yet another “right click” possible matchup. I’m poised to copy and past those standings that I don’t dare look at the moment we pass them. I’ve got my list of Ranger fan “friends” ready to be tagged on my facebook page to puruse as they look up at us in the standings… Go Pens… Just sayin…
- Just in case you missed this absolute beut from the Panthers-Bruins game the other night check it out here, it’s worth a watch even if you have seen it, it’s so worth a watch again, by Shawn Matthias.
Great Stuff !! Why hockey is so awesome right there. Enjoy the games tonight, have a great weekend everyone!! BE GREAT
Attempting to capture the Spirit of the Thing…
P.S. Have a Nice Day !!
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Tags: Colin Mcdonald Evgeni Nabokov Florida Panthers Garth Snow HOCKEY Isles Jack Capuano Jesse Joensuu John Tavares Jonathan Huberdeau Matt Martin New York Islanders New York Rangers NHL Pittsburgh Penguins Tampa Bay Lightning