On Monday night at UBS Arena, the NY Islanders will take on the Detroit Red Wings. After a three-game losing streak this week caused angst amongst the fans, the Isles have now won two straight, whereas the Red Wings, after a hot start, have now lost three straight. The Red Wings are looking to make some noise this season after a lengthy rebuild, and their hot start provided some early evidence that they were ready to contend. However, a tight loss to the Kraken, followed by identical 4-1 losses to the Jets and Bruins, respectively, have stunted the Wings' momentum in the early part of this season.
Meanwhile, the Islanders are coming off back-to-back wins against Ottawa and Columbus, two conference rivals expecting to be in contention in the Eastern Conference in their own right. The Eastern Conference is destined to be a dogfight all season, and the Islanders and Red Wings are two of the teams expected to be in the running down the stretch.
The Islanders defeated the Columbus Blue Jackets 2-0 on Saturday night in Columbus. Semyon Varlamov was at the top of his game, shutting out the Jackets with 34 saves. Kyle Palmieri and Matt Martin added the offense, and the Isles were able to clamp down and protect the lead, earning an important two points as they continue to rebound from this week's three-game losing streak. Now having won two in a row, the Islanders will look to continue that streak tonight at UBS Arena against the suddenly faltering Red Wings.
The Islanders have had a good amount of success in recent years against the Red Wings, with a solid 6-3-1 record in their last ten games. Last season, the Islanders went 2-1 against Detroit, including a crucial 4-1 victory on March 4 while fighting tooth-and-nail for a playoff spot, with Anders Lee's two goals being the difference in that game. Now that the Red Wings' rebuild appears to be nearing an end, likely, these games won't be easy for the Islanders much longer.
Players to Watch
NYI: Oliver Wahlstrom. Throughout training camp, it was an open question whether Wahlstrom was 100%, and if so, whether the organization still felt he could contribute consistently in a top-nine role. Wahlstrom's name has even been floated by the media in trade rumors. However, Saturday night, Wahstrom finished the game on the first line, playing a season-high 13 minutes and 51 seconds and recording seven shot attempts. By moving Barzal down with JG Pageau and Simon Holmstrom and placing Wahlstrom higher in the lineup, the coaching staff is giving Wahlstrom a chance to further prove himself and cement his spot on the roster. Look for him to have another strong performance against the Red Wings.
DET: Alex DeBrincat. Following an offseason of trade rumors connecting DeBrincat to the Islanders, DeBrincat was ultimately traded to the Red Wings, where he quickly signed a four-year contract extension in his hometown. Now, as the Islanders have faced some of the same questions about their offensive performance, DeBrincat has started hot in Motown, with nine goals in his first nine games (albeit none in his last two games, both Wings' losses). It will be crucial for the Islanders' defense to stop DeBrincat and the high-flying Red Wings' offense if they plan to win this game.
Anders Lee- Bo Horvat- Mat Barzal
Pierre Engvall- Brock Nelson- Kyle Palmieri
Simon Holmstrom- JG Pageau- Oliver Wahlstom
Matt Martin- Casey Cizikas- Cal Clutterbuck
Adam Pelech- Noah Dobson
Alexander Romanov- Ryan Pulock
Samuel Bolduc- Sebastian Aho
Alex DeBrincat- Dylan Larkin- Lucas Raymond
David Perron- JT Compher- Andrew Copp
Michael Rasmussen- Joe Veleno- Daniel Sprong
Klim Kostin- Austin Czarnik- Christian Fischer
Jake Walman- Moritz Seider
Shayne Gostisbehere- Justin Holl
Ben Chiarot- Jeff Petry
Lines courtesy of Daily Faceoff