New Jersey Devils vs New York Islanders: Pre-Game Report


Eyes On Isles Pregame Report

Tonight, the New York Islanders (11-20-7, 29 Points) host the New Jersey Devils (15-16-8, 38 Points) in game no. 38 of the 2013-14 NHL season. Here’s what you need to know before puck drop…

Where: Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum, Uniondale, NY

When: Saturday, December 28th, 2013, 7PM

TV: MSG+ (Howie Rose, Butch Goring)

Radio: 88.7 FM WRHU, 103.9 FM WRCN (Chris King)

Opposition Blog: Pucks And Pitchforks

Tickets:   New York Islanders Tickets

Tonight, the Islanders look to continue their winning ways (didn’t think I would ever say that again), as they host the New Jersey Devils at the Coliseum.

The Islanders have won 2 of their last 3 games after basically forgetting how to play the game of hockey for the better part of a month. The Isles have the chance to end the year on a high note. They have 3 games in 4 days, and stringing some wins together could really boost their playoff chances as we enter the second half of the year.

Let’s get the big news out of the way first. John Tavares‘ iron man streak will be snapped. He is out with a lower body injury. He did not practice and will not play tonight. Brock Nelson, will once again be inserted into the first line. He will again get a chance to shine as the odd line pairings of Jack Capuano continue. Nelson was scratched just a few weeks ago, after a stellar performance in place of Thomas Vanek on the Isles’ first line. Now, he is back in a familiar spot.

The Islanders have owned the Devils as of late, with wins in 3 straight against their pitchforked foes.

Evgeni Nabokov will once again start in net for the Islanders. Aaron Ness will sit while Peter Regin and Matt Carkner will dress.

In Tavares’ absence, Kyle Okposo has the chance to step up and be seen. In case you missed it, this is the big push for Kyle to make the US Olympic team. The tournament starts in in just over a month and Okposo has really stepped it up the past few seasons. He is an Alternate Captain and one of the driving forces behind the Islanders’ success last season. He has had another good year so far in 2013. He has 12 goals and is in the Top 25 in scoring in the league. Hopefully JT won’t be out long, but for now Brock Nelson and Kyle Okposo have a chance to really shine.

What They’re Saying

I have to come ready to play. It’s the same game, I can’t over think it. I just have to go out there and play.”

-Islanders Forward Brock Nelson on taking John Tavares‘ spot on the first line tonight.

I’m concerned obviously. You know what Johnny is to our hockey club. He’s not only a leader, but his play speaks for itself. He’s not ready to go and we’re not going to put him in a situation where he could further hurt himself. It’s a day-to-day situation right now. We’ll be cautious with it and hopefully he’ll feel better tomorrow.”

-Islanders Coach Jack Capuano on John Tavares‘ injury.

“[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.”

Jack Capuano on potential Olympian Kyle Okposo

“We’ve hung around in games against some good teams. Even though we’ve lost some of those, we won a couple recently and that should give us some confidence going forward here.”

-Capuano talking about the Isles chances going forward

“Sal is our captain. He brings some things that we don’t have enough of in our group in general,” DeBoer said. “That’s grit. He makes people pay a price to play against him. We miss that element. We need him back in.”

-Devils Coach Peter DeBoer on the return of defenseman Bryce Salvador after missing time with a broken foot.

Quick Hitters

  • John Tavares‘ iron man streak ends at 245 straight games
  • Bryce Salvador returns for the Devils after missing 30 games with a fractured foot
  • Kyle Okposo (two goals, two assists) Frans Nielsen (two goals, two assists) and Thomas Vanek (three goals, one assist) are all riding four-game point streaks
  • Billy Harris is the Islanders’ all-time iron man with 576 consecutive games played
  • The Isles will end the year with 3 games in 4 nights.
  • After not scoring since opening night, Michael Grabner, aka The Austrian Attack, has 3 goals in his last 3 games.

Projected Lineup

26 Thomas Vanek 29 Brock Nelson– 21 Kyle Okposo
40 Michael Grabner– 51 Frans Nielsen– 12 Josh Bailey
13  Peter Regin– 18  Ryan Strome– 15 Cal Clutterbuck
17 Matt Martin – 53 Casey Cizikas – 13 Colin McDonald

47 Andrew MacDonald – 14 Thomas Hickey
3 Travis Hamonic – 44 Calvin de Haan
7 Matt Carkner – 37 Brian Strait

20 Evgeni Nabokov

60 Kevin Poulin

Scratches 36 Eric Boulton, 91 John Tavares

Injured Reserve: 11 Visnovsky, 4 Martinek,