The New York Islanders are back on the East Coast. So puck drop is going to be at a regular time for the first time in about a week. I don't know about you, but I'm still recovering from those late nights from the Western Canadian road trip. I don't know what I'm going to do with four games with 10 to 10:30 PM start times to end the month.
Just like the uncertainty around my sleep schedule to end the month, there's uncertainty on who's going to play on the Isles fourth line today.
In the Isles last game, a 5-2 loss to the Calgary Flames, the fourth line was Martin-Cizikas-Beauvillier. That changed as the game progressed with Beauvillier heading back up to this usual second-line role and Ross Johnston dropping back down.
New York Islanders pre-game vs. Buffalo Sabres: Who's on fourth?
For today's game, we aren't sure if that fourth line will change again. Yesterday, Kyle Palmieri was said to be rotating in and out of fourth-line duties at practice. Barry could go for a typical "all-identity" fourth line with Martin-Cizikas-Johnston (Clutterbuck likely stays on the top line) or do like he did with Beau.
He could place a more offensively minded player on the fourth-line for two reasons: 1) give that fourth line a bit more balance offensively and 2) give that more offensively minded guy - in this case, Kyle Palmieri - a bit of a lesson on how to play the Isles defensive game.
You'd hope that lesson wouldn't have to be tough at this point but Palmieri (and a few others) seem to need it. If it's what gets Palmieri back to his best then so be it. The Islanders need Palmieri to be the player they thought they were signing to a four-year $20 million deal.
Islanders projected lineup tonight
Remember, Varlamov is still north of the border as the gets over his positive COVID test.