Eyes On Isles Pre-Game Report
Tonight, the New York Islanders (10-20-7, 27 points) take on the Detroit Red Wings (17-12–9, 43 points) in game number 38 of the 2013-14 NHL season. Here’s what you need to know before puck drop…
Where: Joe Louis Arena, Detroit, Michigan
When: Monday, December 23rd, 2013, 7:30 PM EST
TV: MSG+ (Howie Rose, Butch Goring)
Radio: 88.7 FM WRHU, 103.9 FM WRCN (Chris King)
Opposition Blog : Octopus Thrower
The New York Islanders, coming off a 5-3 loss to the Anaheim Ducks in which they allowed 4 third period goals will travel to Detroit, Michigan to take on the Red Wings tonight in their final game before the Christmas break.
After their victory Friday night over the rival New York Rangers, coincidentally by the same 5-3 score, many thought maybe this was the start of something positive for the Islanders in a season of unexpected downfalls and the second worst record in the entire National Hockey League.
But New York failed to capitalize on that momentum, falling into the same defensive blunders that have plagued the team all season long. With Lubomir Visnovsky no closer to returning, the feeling is that Matt Donovan should be getting a recall soon and Kevin Poulin would be expected to see more starts as the team will inevitably, have to start looking towards next season and evaluating talent.
These two teams have so far split the season series with both games being played at Nassau Coliseum. New York claimed a spirited 5-4 shootout win only to return two weeks later and get absolutely embarrassed by Detroit in losing 5-0. Everyone remembers that being the game where Andrew MacDonald took a circus like spill over a charging Kevin Poulin on what became a shorthanded goal for Darren Helm.
For the Islanders, head coach Jack Capuano announced lineup changes of Colin McDonald for Eric Boulton and Aaron Ness for Matt Carkner. Evgeni Nabokov will make his fourth consecutive start since returning from injury.
Detroit comes in hurting in the injury department as well and they are not secondary or role players either. Starting goaltender Jimmy Howard (knee), captain Henrik Zetterberg (back), Johan Franzen (concussion) and Stephen Weiss (sports hernia) are all expected to miss tonight’s contest. Red Wings head coach Mike Babcock is hoping to have Justin Abdelkader (head) and Helm (shoulder) back this evening.
The electrifying Pavel Datsyuk will be in the lineup however and is second on the Red Wings in scoring with 14-15-29 in 31 games. Hard hitting defenseman Niklas Kronwall is having his best offensive season with 4-21-25 in 36 games.
Expect to see Jonas Gustavsson in goal and he sports numbers of 10-3-2 with a 2.35 GAA and .915 save percentage.
What They’re Saying
- “We’re not executing in the third period, closing out games and making it hard for other teams,” captain John Tavares said. “We have to do a better job in a lot of areas, especially in our defensive zone and in our coverage.”
- “It’s huge,” Alfredsson told Mlive.com when asked about ending the shootout drought, which included six losses this season. “It becomes a mental thing. Winning in overtime last game [3-2 against the Calgary Flames on Thursday] and winning in a shootout I think lessens the grip on the stick the next time around.”
- Isles all time vs Detroit 46-45-8
- Goal Streak: Thomas Vanek has three goals in his last two games. His rate of 0.43 goals per game leads the Islanders, while his plus 3 rating is tied for the team lead.
- Streak Snapped: Saturday’s loss to Anaheim ended the Islanders’ three-game point streak (1-0-2) and four-game home point streak (0-0-4)
- NHL Scoring Race: John Tavares is tied for ninth in the NHL scoring race with 38 points (13g/25a)
- Need For 3: The Isles are 10-4-2 when they score at least three goals and are 0-16-5 when they do not.
- Shot Blocker: Andrew MacDonald leads the NHL with 129 blocked shots. Last season he tied for third in the league with 123 blocks, two shy of the leader.
- Heavy Hitter: Matt Martin leads the NHL with 180 hits. He’s led the league in hits in each of the last two seasons. In 2011-12, Martin’s 374 hits marked the highest total since hits became an official stat in 2005-06.
- Career Wins: Evgeni Nabokov’s 341 career victories rank 18th on the NHL all time wins list. Nabokov ranks 19th all time in shutouts with 55, two behind Clint Benedict.
26 Vanek – 91 Tavares – 21 Okposo
40 Grabner – 51 Nielsen – 12 Bailey
29 Nelson – 18 Strome– 15 Clutterbuck
17 Martin – 53 Cizikas – 13 McDonald
44 deHaan – 3 Hamonic
14 Hickey – 47 MacDonald
55 Ness – 37 Strait
Scratches: 7 Carkner, 16 Regin, 36 Boulton
Injured Reserve : 4 Martinek, 11 Visnovsky