Eyes On Isles Pre-Game Report
This afternoon, the New York Islanders (8-14-3, 19 points) take on the Detroit Red Wings (12-7-7, 31 points) in Game 26 of the 2013-14 NHL Regular Season. Here’s what you need to know before puck drop…
Where: Nassau Coliseum, Uniondale, New York
When: Friday, November 29th, 4:00 p.m. EST
Watch: MSG+ (HD) – Howie Rose, Butch Goring
Listen: 88.7FM WRHU, 103.9FM WRCN – Chris King
Tickets: NY Islanders tickets
Crunch time begins now. It’s not early in the season anymore. While it’s no time to push the panic button just yet, it’s definitely time for the Islanders to elevate their battle level (my favorite Cappy-ism) if they want to be a serious team in the NHL. They’ve been struggling mightily this month of November, and the season’s not getting any younger.
The Islanders have shown they’re going to act on players who aren’t performing, as they’ve sent Matt Donovan down to Bridgeport amidst a mini slump he’s been in. With Donovan being sent into Bridgeport, the Islanders recalled defenseman Calvin de Haan. De Haan, who still is considered one of the Islanders’ top defensive prospects despite his injury riddles history, should be a solid contribution when called upon. He’s a strong two way defenseman, and we should see this while he’s up with the team.
However, just a little while ago, Coach Jack Capuano stated that de Haan will be a healthy scratch for this afternoon’s matinee. This move for sure comes as a surprise, but Capuano scratching Josh Bailey doesn’t come as a surprise at all. Bailey, who was a key factor in the Islanders’ magnificent run last year, has not scored in over a month, his last goal coming on October 25th against Pittsburgh. This move has been coming for a long time, and it is a good decision by Capuano to finally have Bailey sitting out tonight.
As expected, Kevin Poulin will be in net tonight for the Islanders. Poulin has played very well since goaltender Evgeni Nabokov suffered an injury to his groin. The stats don’t do it justice, but Poulin has played very well these last few weeks, and has shown to many that he is capable of playing at the NHL level.
In net for Detroit will be Jimmy Howard. Howard has put up average numbers thus far, owning a .908 SV% and a 2.72 GAA in 18 games played. He hasn’t been as impactful a player as he was during last season’s Stanley Cup Playoffs, but hasn’t looked bad in net either.
Goaltending shouldn’t be Detroit’s major concern for tonight, given the team’s unfortunate string of injuries. Veteran stars Pavel Datsyuk and Todd Bertuzzi won’t be playing this afternoon. Danny DeKeyser will sit today’s game out due to injuries as well.
So with that pre-game briefing, expect the Islanders to come out stronger and more desperate than they’ve played all season. We saw the team play with desperation in the closing minutes of Wednesday’s game against Winnipeg, and the Islanders nearly came back to win that game despite being down by 2 goals coming into the third period. The Islanders know that the season will be over soon if they don’t put in a complete 60 minute effort, and they will come out of the gates screaming.
What They’re Saying…
“They’ve (Bridgeport) have had a few days off down there. We’re gonna get him in a few practices first,” says Coach Capuano on scratching Calvin de Haan for today’s game. (link)
Islanders Captain John Tavares after Wednesday’s loss: ”Our intensity and the little things … taking hits to make plays, all the little things that make a big difference in a game over a long run, we’re just not doing. We’re not creating our breaks or our opportunities. It seems like we’re just waiting for them to happen, and they’re not gonna come until the consistent effort for each and every shift is there.” (link)
Detroit Red Wings coach Mike Babcock after Wednesday’s win against the Boston Bruins: “We’ve played lots of good games this year; we haven’t won lots of games. That’s the fact, because we never score. … I thought we built off what we’ve been building and it was a positive for the guys.” (link)
“Josh (Bailey) is fine, and I’ve got a lot of confidence he’ll bounce back,” says Capuano when asked about Josh Bailey being scratched (link)
- The Islanders have a 46-44-8 record against Detroit all time
- The Islanders have won 5 straight games against Detroit
- Both Thomas Vanek and John Tavares are riding 3 game point streaks
- The Islanders are 0-12-1 in games in which they don’t score 3 goals
- Matt Martin leads the league with 123 hits; he’s on pace for the most hits ever recorded
26 Vanek – 91 John Tavares – 21 Okposo
40 Grabner – 51 Nielsen – 29 Nelson
96 Bouchard – 16 Regin – 15 Clutterbuck
29 – 53 Casey Cizikas – 17 Matt Martin – 13 McDonald
47 MacDonald – 3 Hamonic
14 Hickey – 55 Ness
4 Matinek – 7 Carkner
Rich Dias (@RDNHL) is covering the game for Eyes on Isles from the press box. Follow him for updates throughout the contest.