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Eyes On Isles Pre-Game Report
Tonight, the New York Islanders (24-33-9, 57 Points) visit the Vancouver Canucks (29-27-10, 68 Points) in game no. 65 of the 2013-14 NHL season. Here’s what you need to know before puck drop…
Where: Rogers Arena, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
When: 10:00 PM ET, March 10, 2014
TV: MSG+ (Jiggs MacDonald, Butch Goring)
Radio: 88.7 FM WRHU, 103.9 FM WRCN (Chris King)
Opposition Blog: The Canuck Way
The New York Islanders look to the final 17 games of the 2013-14 season with an eye on the future. The anticipation that began in training camp at Barclays Center has now been replaced by the realization of a failed season, both on and off the ice, which will leave players home watching the battle for the Stanley Cup instead of participating in it.
In Vancouver, things have not been that much better. John Tortorella was brought in to restore order and not cause chaos, neither of which was accomplished. The Canucks are only two games above .500 and they have lost 19 of their last 25 games.
Roberto Luongo was shipped off to Florida, leaving only Eddie Lack and Jacob Markstrom to man the crease. And whispers of discord between the head coach and Ryan Kesler led to the Vancouver star being shopped and almost traded on March 5.
One struggling club will face another but the beauty of life in the National Hockey League these days is that there must be a winner. One of these teams has to walk out of there tonight with two points in tow, no matter how hard they try themselves to throw it away.
Kyle Okposo, having a career season with 26 goals and 62 points will certainly pass captain John Tavares for the team lead in scoring, with the latter out for the season after tearing up a knee in Sochi.
Anders Nilsson looks to get the brunt of the work down the stretch, as Islanders management tries to figure out the goaltending plan heading into the summer. Kevin Poulin had his opportunity and did not make the most of it, being sent back to Bridgeport.
The continued development of Ryan Strome, Anders Lee, Brock Nelson, Mike Halmo, Calvin de Haan and Matt Donovan is paramount now and probably the only reason many fans have to tune in and watch on television or attend a game at the Nassau Coliseum, which is down to its final legs before the team moves to Brooklyn.
What They’re Saying
- “We needed to play,” coach John Tortorella said after Saturday’s 2-1 home win over Calgary. “We have to scratch, claw and grind and find points anyway possible.”
- “Maybe it wasn’t the prettiest of goals, but that’s how we have to get out of our slump,” Yannick Weber said. “We played a gritty game, and got some ugly goals and that’s the way we have to play.”
- “We just stopped playing,” said Kyle Okposo, who scored his team-leading 26th goal. “We gave up a goal and we stopped moving our feet and stopped going after them. We dominated the game for 50 minutes. There’s no reason we should lose that game.”
- All-Time Record: 49-36-16
- Youngsters: The Islanders 24-man roster features seven rookies: Calvin de Haan, Matt Donovan, Mike Halmo, Anders Lee, Brock Nelson, Anders Nilsson and Ryan Strome.
- Road Warriors: The Isles are 11-4-1 in their last 16 road games.
- NHL Scoring Race: Kyle Okposo is tied for 12th in the NHL scoring race with 62 points (26g/36a). Prior to suffering a season-ending injury during the Olympics, John Tavares was third in the NHL scoring race with 66 points (24g/42a) in 59 games.
- Hot Starter: Anders Lee has seven points (5g/2a) in his first eight career NHL games, including five points (4g/1a) in six games this season since being called up after the Olympic break.
- Iron-Man: Thomas Hickey is the only Islander that has appeared in every game this season.
- Need For 3: The Isles are 21-9-3 when they score at least three goals and are 3-24-6 when they do not.
- Heavy Hitter: Matt Martin leads the NHL with 286 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.
40 Michael Grabner – 51 Frans Nielsen – 21 Kyle Okposo
27 Anders Lee – 18 Ryan Strome – 13 Colin McDonald
12 Josh Bailey – 29 Brock Nelson – 15 Cal Clutterbuck
17 Matt Martin – 53 Casey Cizikas – 43 Mike Halmo
91 John Tavares