Tonight, the New York Islanders (11-21-7, 29 points) take on the Boston Bruins (26-11-2, 54 points) in game no. 40 of the 2013-14 NHL season. Here’s what you need to know before puck drop…
Where: TD Garden, Boston, Massachusetts
When: Tuesday, December 31st, 7PM
Watch: MSG+ (Howie Rose, Butch Goring)
Listen: 88.7 FM WRHU, 103.9 FM WRCN (Chris King)
Opposition Blog: Causeway Crowd
Happy New Years Eve, Islanders Country! We’ve been through quite an eventful 12 months, as the Islanders began their lockout-shortened season in January, and we haven’t looked back from there. The team had its ups, and is currently going through it’s painfully usual downs. However, the Islanders did have a nice up-tick with an impressive come-from-behind victory Sunday against the Minnesota Wild.
The Orange and Blue battled back from trailing 3-0 in the 2nd period to win by a score of 5-4. Two goals scored by Olympic-hopeful Kyle Okposo propelled the Islanders in the third period, and Long Island’s hockey team walked out Minnesota with a big win.
The Islanders will certainly have their work cut out for them tonight, going up against the Atlantic Division leading Boston Bruins, who have more than twice the amount of points than them.
For tonight’s game, goaltender Evgeni Nabokov will start between the pipes. Nabokov was on the bench for the team’s previous game in Minnesota, so he’ll be nice and rested coming into tonight’s showdown.
Michael Grabner, who sat last game, will be replacing Eric Boulton tonight. Grabner has been on a bit of a hot streak in the last few games he’s played, scoring 3 goals in his last 4 games. In addition to Eric Boulton, Josh Bailey will be sitting tonight. Bailey did not play Tuesday either, as he remains day-to-day with an upper body injury.
Matt Carkner will also be playing, as he replaces young defenseman Aaron Ness. With Ness struggling as of late, while no word or rumor has surfaced, it’s only becoming more and more logical to think we’ll be seeing Matt Donovan again soon in the near future.
As for Boston, Tukka Rask will be making his first start against the Islanders this season. Rask rode the bench in the first meeting between these two teams back on November 2nd, a game that the Islanders won by a score of 3-1. Rask has posted Vezina Trophy caliber numbers halfway into the 2013-14 season, boasting a .936 SV% and a dominant 1.89 GAA through 31 games played.
So with that said, while anything is of course possible, look for a rather low scoring game. Despite Boston’s injuries, the last few times these two teams have played each other have been low scoring events, so don’t look for that to change.
What They’re Saying
“It’s fun to get a win like that. We kept chipping away. We were down 3-0 and we just regrouped and decided we were going to go after them and start moving our feet,” Kyle Okposo said when after Sunday’s win over the Minnesota Wild.
“[Kyle Okposo] is playing physical, he’s grinding it out, playing good down low, protecting the puck and he’s shooting pucks. It’s about confidence and he’s got that right now. He’s playing poised, he’s playing relaxed and when you do that you play confident and play your best hockey. He’s utilizing his size and playing real well,” Coach Jack Capuano said on Kyle Okposo’s chances on becoming an Olympian.
“We didn’t lose our mindset against the Wild. We felt like we could come back if we started moving our feet and playing smart. We did that.” Andrew MacDonald said following Sunday’s win.
“We’re certainly going to miss [Seidenberg], but there’s nobody discouraged in that room,” Boston coach Claude Julien said on the loss of Dennis Seidenberg.
- Kyle Okposo is on a six-game point streak (4g/3a)
- Thomas Vanek is on a four game point streak (3g/4a)
- John Tavares is tied for 11th in the NHL scoring race, Kyle Okposo is tied for 17th
- The Isles are 12-4-2 when they score at least three goals and are 0-17-5 when they do not
- Andrew MacDonald leads the NHL with 136 blocked shots
- Matt Martin leads the NHL with 190 hits
26 Vanek – 91 Tavares – 21 Okposo
40 Grabner – 51 Nielsen – 15 Clutterbuck
29 Nelson – 18 Strome – 16 Regin
13 McDonald – 53 Cizikas – 17 Martin
47 MacDonald – 14 Hickey
44 de Haan - 3 Hamonic
37 Brian Strait – 7 Carkner
20 Evgeni Nabokov
60 Kevin Poulin
Scratches: 12 Bailey, 36 Boulton, 55 Ness
Injured Reserve: 11 Visnovsky, 4 Martinek