After a big time win against the Hurricanes without their A-Game, the Islanders will turn around to face the top team in the NHL.
- Thursday, 7 pm ET, Nassau Coliseum
- TV: MSG+
- Islanders: 38-19-1, 77 Pts, 1st Metropolitan
- Predaators: 39-12-6, 84 Pts, 1st Central
On Tuesday night against the Carolina Hurricanes, the New York Islanders didn’t have the effort and energy we’re used to seeing. It was understandable after that very emotionally swinging 6-5 loss to their cross-town rivals the night before. Not being fully up to the task in Carolina was predictable on the back end of a back to back.
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However, thanks to the help of backup goalie Chad Johnson, the Isles did what good teams do – knocking off the Hurricanes 4-1 despite playing lackluster hockey.
If Jack Capuano’s squad thinks they can give that same effort Thursday night against the Nashville Predators, they’ll be sorely mistaken.
The Predators will come into Long Island as the league’s top team with 84 points (39-12-6). Goalie Pekka Rinne has been so dominant that many consider him the Hart Trophy (MVP) front-runner. The last time a goalie won the MVP was Jose Theodore for the Canadiens in 2002, but Rinne’s 34 wins, 1.94 goals against average and .932 save percentage proves how silly his play has been.
Rinne has a league leading 34 wins despite recently missing eight games due to injury.
Feb 17, 2015; Raleigh, NC, USA; Carolina Hurricanes goalie Anton Khudobin (31) stops the shot by New York Islanders forward Michael Grabner (40) during the 1st period at PNC Arena. The New York Islanders defeated the Carolina Hurricanes 4-1. Mandatory Credit: James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports
He spoke after the win against the Sharks, via CBS Sports:
“You just stay focused and just worry about that next shot,” Rinne said. “You don’t want to get caught with making a highlight save and then kind of stop playing, so that’s the last mistake I want to make.”
The Islanders will most likely have their main man in between the pipes. After giving up three third period goals to New York on Monday and six in total in the game, Jaroslav Halak received a much needed and well deserved rest the past three days.
They’ll need Halak on his game too. Not only does Rinne lead the way for one of the stingiest teams in the league (second in the league with 132 goals against), but Nashville is also fifth in the league in total goals scored with 175.
They’re also riding high with a six game winning streak including their last victory coming Tuesday night in a 5-1 win against San Jose.
20-year old rookie sensation Filip Forsberg has solidified this group as one of the scariest in the NHL. He’s second on the team with 19 goals and first with 50 points.
One guy who hopes to keep the slight momentum going for the Isles and fill the void that Kyle Okposo has left is speedy winger Michael Grabner. He’s been injured most of the season, finally came back and then recently missed another five games. Making his return against the Canes two nights ago certainly jump-started a half-dead effort.
“I don’t think you want to get in a spiral, losing two, three, four in a row,” Grabner said. “It’s nice to get back the two points, put that behind us and move on.”
The Islanders are still four points clear of Penguins and Rangers who’re currently locked in the Metropolitan two-spot. The problem though is they must view things tighter as the Blushirts have a ridiculous three games in hand while Pittsburgh has one.