EYES ON ISLES PREGAME REPORT
Tonight, the New York Islanders (16-22-7, 39 points) take on the Colorado Avalanche (27-12-4, 58 points) in game no. 46 of the 2013-14 NHL season. Here’s what you need to know before puck drop…
Where: Pepsi Center, Denver, Colorado
When: Friday, January 10th, 9:00 pm EST
Watch: MSG+ (Chris King, Butch Goring)
Listen: 88.7 FM WRHU, 103.9 FM WRCN (Chris King)
Opposition Blog: Milehighsticking.com
The New York Islanders take a stretch of good play into tonight’s contest with the Colorado Avalanche in the high altitude of Colorado.
Winners of five out of their past six and seven out of ten, New York cannot seem to make up much ground however in the Metropolitan division as they attempt to claw their way out of a hole that they dug with inconsistent play earlier in the season.
It’s not the 9 points out of third place in the division that looks imposing to New York’s playoff hopes. It’s the 5 teams they have to jump to get there. What that equates to is a lot of hoping and wishing those teams lose and more often than not lately, they have not been. Each team ahead of the Islanders in the standings other than the 3rd place Capitals (3-4-3) are .500 or better in their last 10 games.
Back to the good vibes however. Captain John Tavares is absolutely on fire lately, collecting 16 points in his past 7 games to push him into a 2nd place tie with Patrick Kane for the NHL scoring lead behind Sidney Crosby. Linemate Thomas Vanek has been equally impressive and getting seemingly more comfortable each shift with Tavares, picking up 15 points in his past 10 contests.
Kevin Poulin will be back between the pipes, re-assuming the starter role in the absence of Evgeni Nabokov. The word is that the injury suffered to the Islanders starter and clubhouse leader is minor and could have him back within two weeks.
Lubomir Visnovsky continues to be sidelined with the lingering effects of a concussion. He worked out yesterday with trainers at Iceworks in Syosset but has not begun any rigorous training or been cleared to perform any on-ice work.
Colorado presents an interesting match-up for the Islanders. Rookie bench boss Patrick Roy always seems to have his team ready to play. After a red-hot start to the season that had them at 22-10-1, they have gone just 5-5 over their past 10 games however, scoring 31 goals while allowing 31 goals against.
For the season, the Avalanche rank 7th in goals per game (2.9), 12th in goals against (2.5), 10th on the power play (19.8) and 20th in penalty killing (80.2).
On defense, Erik Johnson continues his resurgence. His overall game has been excellent this season under Roy and he is on his way to career highs in offensive categories (7-13-20).
The Avalanche are missing some key components to their offense however in this one. Ex-Islander P.A. Parenteau will miss the game with a shoulder injury expected to keep him out long-term. Alex Tanguay is nursing a knee injury and Ryan O’Reilly is not expected to play after injuring his shoulder last weekend.
With victories already during this stretch against the Detroit Red Wings, Boston Bruins and Chicago Blackhawks can the Islanders keep up their streak of knocking off the league’s more élite squads?
What They’re Saying
- “Early on, I don’t know if it was nerves or a lack of poise or confidence,” coach Jack Capuano said. “But now we’re just playing with an attitude, playing with an edge, playing with confidence and doing the right things to give us a chance.”
- “A character win for us,” coach Patrick Roy said. ” … The last five minutes, I really liked what I saw. We played with urgency and I was very proud of our team.”
- All time Isles vs Avalanche : 34-33-6
- The 2 teams will meet again on February 8 at the Nassau Coliseum
- Road Win Streak: The Islanders are on a five-game road winning streak. They’ve won six of their last seven road games, with victories over San Jose, the Rangers, Detroit, Minnesota, Boston and Toronto
- Assist Streak: Andrew MacDonald saw his five-game assist streak (0g/8a) come to an end Tuesday in Toronto. He fell one game shy of tying the team season high, a six-game assist streak, set by John Tavares (6a) from Oct. 15-26
- Back-To-Backs: The Islanders closed out their 11th set of back-to-back games Tuesday in Toronto. They are 5-6-0 on the front end, and 4-5-2 on the back-end of back-to-backs this season. The club will total 16 back-to-back sets this season
- 3 Straight For Poulin: Kevin Poulin has won his last three decisions for the first time in his career. He is 4-1-0 in his last five games
- 2013 Goals: John Tavares scored 44 goals in the 2013 calendar year. Only Alex Ovechkin (62) and Patrick Kane (46) scored more
26 Vanek – 91 Tavares – 21 Okposo
29 Nelson – 51 Nielsen - 12 Bailey
40 Grabner – 18 Strome – 15 Clutterbuck
13 McDonald – 53 Cizikas – 17 Martin
47 MacDonald – 37 Strait
44 de Haan – 3 Hamonic
14 Hickey – 46 Donovan
Scratches: 7 Carkner, 16 Regin, 36 Boulton
Injured Reserve: 4 Martinek, 11 Visnovsky, 20 Nabokov