Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports
Eyes On Isles Pre-Game Report
Tonight, the New York Islanders (6-9-3, 15 pts) host the Nashville Predators (8-7-2, 18 pts) in game no. 19 of the 2013-14 NHL season. Here’s what you need to know before puck drop…
Where: Nassau Coliseum, Uniondale, New York
When: Tuesday, Nov. 12th, 7:00 p.m. EST
Watch: MSG+ (HD) – Howie Rose, Butch Goring
Listen: 88.7FM WRHU, 103.9FM WRCN – Chris King
The New York Islanders attempt to end their four game losing streak when they return home to Nassau Coliseum tonight to battle the Nashville Predators.
Coming off a zero point road trip in which they were out-scored 16-6 and went 2-13 on the power play in addition to falling to last in the league in penalty killing, things have clearly not been going well lately.
Lubomir Visnovsky has proven to be a much larger loss than initially anticipated and recent injuries to Cal Clutterbuck and Thomas Vanek, in addition to secondary scoring not producing at all, has left the team thin and inexperienced at core positions.
You knew things had to change and that begins this evening, as Kevin Poulin starts back to back games for the first time this season. It’s a huge opportunity for the 23 year old goaltender to either seize the starting job away from incumbent Evgeni Nabokov or slide back into his former role. How the Islanders defense reacts will play a key role in the outcome of the contest.
What was an Islanders strength heading into the 2013-14 season, the offense, has not gotten much production lately from any line. Too much time spent on the perimeter and an apparent unwillingness to go to the ‘dirty areas’ and create prime scoring opportunities has made the defensive mistakes that much more glaring.
As the quarter pole quickly approaches, there are no easy games in November on the schedule, making it imperative the Islanders stop the bleeding before it gets completely out of hand and even the best tourniquet can’t stop it.
For Nashville, they come in with problems of their own. Starting goaltender Pekka Rinne continues to be sidelined with a staph infection that developed in his surgically repaired hip. He is expected out another 4 weeks.
With only 37 goals in 17 games (2.2 average) the Predators, as in years past, are still struggling to fill the back of the net and without the aforementioned Rinne, are also 25th in goals against (3.1 per game against).
There is talent on this squad however so don’t be fooled completely. David Legwand is playing the best hockey of his career and leading the team in scoring (4-10-14) and Patric Hornqvist is still a dangerous offensive threat (4-6-10). Shea Weber, despite leading Predators defenseman with 4 goals, is -8 as he struggles to find his defensive game so far this season.
22 year old Marek Mazanec (6’4″) makes his first career start for Nashville tonight. He replaced current starter Carter Hutton a week ago in Winnipeg, playing the final 52 minutes and stopping 22 of 24 shots.
In the previous meeting this season between these two teams in Nashville, the Predators claimed a 3-2 victory, as the Isles struggled to get only 16 shots on goal.
What They’re Saying…
“We’re not playing well defensively and giving up way too many chances,” Predators captain and top defenseman Shea Weber said following a 5-0 loss to the Devils on Sunday. “We’re giving up odd-man rushes and not helping out our goalie. We need to play solid defensively in order to get offense.” [link]
Okposo: “Playing well isn’t gonna cut it anymore. We need to start winning games and that starts tonight.” [link]
Tavares: “We need a better forecheck, better coverage in the defensive zone. Those things seem to hurt as at certain points in the game.” [link]
Tavares: “We’ve gotta overcome those challenges when things aren’t going our way. I believe in this group; we’ll find a way out of this.” [link]
Capuano: “As a staff, we’re trying to stay positive. But on championship teams, it comes from within. It comes from your leadership.” [link]
Capuano: “It’s just getting back to what we need to do. It’s gonna change for us, I know that our guys care and that’s the big thing.” [link]
- The Isles are 6-1-2 when they score at least three goals and are 0-8-1 when they do not.
- Twelve of the Islanders’ 18 games this season have been decided by one goal (4-5-3)
- The Islanders are 90-92-30 under Head Coach Jack Capuano. He ranks second on the Islanders all-time list in both games coached (213) and wins (90), behind Al Arbour (1,500 coached, 740 wins)
- Matt Martin leads the NHL with 80 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.
- Andrew MacDonald leads the NHL with 67 blocked shots. Last season he tied for third in the league with 123 blocks, two shy of the leader.
29 Nelson – 91 Tavares – 21 Okposo
40 Grabner – 51 Nielsen – 12 Bailey
96 Bouchard – 16 Regin – 15 Clutterbuck
13 McDonald – 53 Cizikas – 17 Martin
47 MacDonald – 3 Hamonic
14 Hickey – 46 Donovan
55 Ness – 7 Carkner
Scratches: 4 Martinek, 26 Vanek, 36 Boulton
Injured Reserve: 11 Visnovsky, 37 Strait
Rich Dias (@RDNHL) is covering the game for Eyes in the press box. Follow him for updates throughout the contest. Rich will also be covering Thursday’s game against the Kings and Mike Willhoft returns for Saturday’s contest against the Red Wings.