John Tavares and the New York Islanders are spending Valentine’s Day trying to keep their playoff hopes alive in Toronto. A win tonight will put the Islanders in the 8th playoff spot in the East.
Tonight’s tilt against Toronto will be the third and final meeting in the season series. The Islanders took the first two, one in overtime, one in a 5-1 drubbing. This will, however, be the first time and only time the two teams meet on Toronto’s home turf.
Tavares and the Islanders, coming off a squash game against the league-worst Avalanche, are 6-2-2 in their last 10. Toronto has dropped back to back games to Dallas and Buffalo and are 4-4-2 over their last 10. This game will play a big part in both team’s outlook for the trade deadline and the rest of the season.
There is, however, a larger existential battle being waged tonight. Losing tonight could expose the Islanders (and Garth Snow) as the overly long rebuild that they are. The Maple Leafs represent the side of the coin Islanders fans wish we were – a young core of players leading the way under the steady hand of an established coach. Sweeping the season series would be a statement that our rebuild is still on track and Toronto’s is still in its infancy.
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Who’s Hot, Who’s Not
With nine points in the last six games, Anders Lee is making the most of his time alongside John Tavares. Constantly fighting for space in front of the opposing net, he continues to rack up points from the dirty areas.
Only two points since the turn of the calendar, 2017 has not been a great year for Hickey so far. In addition to poor production on the stat sheet, Hickey has also come up short on the eyeball test. Several defensive lapses in recent games have led to costly mistakes and with Pulock waiting in the wings he has to hear the clock ticking.
Greiss back in net and Alan Quine will take Prince’s place who’s out with an upper-body injury.
Ladd-Quine-Chimera de Haan-Seidenberg
Gionta-Cizikas-Kulemin Greiss (Berube)
Where To Watch the Game:
Venue: Air Canada Centre, 7:30pm
TV: MSG+, NHL.TV
Radio: WFAN, WHRU