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Eyes On Isles Pre-Game Report
Tonight, the New York Islanders (10-19-7, 27 points) take on the Anaheim Ducks (25-7–5, 55 points) in game number 37 of the 2013-14 NHL season. Here’s what you need to know before puck drop…
Where: Nassau Coliseum, Uniondale, New York
When: Saturday, December 21st, 2013, 7PM EST
TV: MSG+ (Howie Rose, Butch Goring)
Radio: 88.7 FM WRHU, 103.9 FM WRCN (Chris King)
Opposition Blog : Pucks of a Feather
The New York Islanders return home from an extremely short and abbreviated road trip to face the Anaheim Ducks in the second and final meeting of the season between the two clubs.
New York is coming off a 5-3 victory over their cross town rival New York Rangers and fans are hoping that this is the start of something positive for a team struggling out of the gate to 6 regulation wins in 36 games.
Anaheim is not exactly the opponent that you want to try and continue or start a streak against, and this game will be a huge measuring stick to see just how much confidence last night’s game gave back to the Islanders. For once, the hockey gods smiled on the team, who were the beneficiary of some soft calls by the officiating, although the chances given still had to be converted.
Michael Grabner finally got back on the goal scoring ledger, providing the team with some much needed secondary scoring. His shorthanded goal in the first period was a thing of beauty and showcased all of Grabner’s skills in one fleet rush. Cal Clutterbuck was a factor all night long and since being inserted on the penalty kill by head coach Jack Capuano, has done a marvelous job. The lack of production from the first line did not hurt the Islanders on this night with so many others stepping up to the forefront.
Thomas Hickey had a rough night on the blueline but was supported by extremely strong showings by rookie Calvin deHaan and veterans Travis Hamonic and Andrew MacDonald. He will get another shot tonight at redemption with Capuano announcing absolutely no changes to the New York lineup from the previous night.
That also means Evgeni Nabokov, so strong since his return from a groin injury, gets his third straight start in goal. Looking calm, cool and collected, the Islanders are relieved to not only have the veteran back on the ice but in the dressing room as well.
Anaheim comes in only one point off the Western conference and overall NHL points lead, trailing only the defending Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks. They are 8-0-2 in their last ten games and have won seven consecutive contests.
Team captain Ryan Getzlaf continues to pace the offense with 16-23-39 in 34 games and leading goal scorer Corey Perry is a threat all over the ice with 22 goals in 37 games. The Ducks have not missed the offensive force of Bobby Ryan, traded to Ottawa in the off-season.
Special night for Islanders fans to see one of the legends of the National Hockey League for the last time as Teemu Selanne continues his farewell tour. Selanne has struggled this year to only 4 goals in 29 games after being one of the most prolific scorers we have seen grace the ice.
With Jonas Hiller playing last night in New Jersey and getting the 3-2 overtime win, all signs point to rookie Frederik Andersen getting the start for the Ducks. He comes in 8-1-0 on the season with a 1.74 GAA and .938 save percentage.
What They’re Saying
- “What makes this team special is the depth in here,” right wing Teemu Selanne told the league’s official website. “It’s a good sign. Obviously a lot of hard work ahead, but I think we have all the pieces.”
- “I don’t think we had won too many games overall,” said right wing Michael Grabner, who scored two goals. “We’ve got to work ourselves back into the playoff picture. (Friday) was a good start, but (Saturday) is another test.”
- The Islanders and Ducks face off tonight for the second time in a two-week span to complete their two-game season series. The home team has won five of the last six meetings between these clubs.
- Team Streak: The Islanders are on a three-game point streak (1-0-2) and a four-game home point streak (0-0-4). In their last fourhome games, Alex Ovechkin, Sidney Crosby and Max Pacioretty all scored in OT, while Nikita Kucherov talled a shootout winner
- Back-To-Backs: The Islanders complete their ninth set of back-to-back games tonight. They are 4-5-0 on the front end, and 2-4-2 onthe back-end of back-to-backs this season.
- Pair Of Firsts: Ryan Strome recorded his first NHL point (assist) on Brian Strait’s first NHL goal (regular season) Friday against theRangers.
- Shorthies: Cal Clutterbuck scored on his first-ever penalty shot last night against the Rangers. He is now tied for the NHL lead with twoshort-handed goals.
- NHL Scoring Race: John Tavares is tied for seventh in the NHL scoring race with 38 points (13g/25a).
- Need For 3: The Isles are 10-3-2 when they score at least three goals and are 0-16-5 when they do not.
26 Vanek – 91 Tavares – 21 Okposo
40 Grabner – 51 Nielsen – 12 Bailey
29 Nelson – 18 Strome– 15 Clutterbuck
17 Martin – 53 Cizikas – 36 Boulton
44 deHaan – 3 Hamonic
14 Hickey – 47 MacDonald
7 Carkner – 37 Strait
Scratches: 13 McDonald, 16 Regin, 55 Ness
Injured Reserve : 4 Martinek, 11 Visnovsky