The New York Islanders cross the East River today to take on their rivals the New York Rangers. The Isles are fresh off a 5-2 win over the Columbus Blue Jackets at home while the Rangers' last game was on Wednesday as they took down the Red Wings 5-4 in OT.
While the Rangers fight to try and preserve home-ice advantage in the playoffs, the Islanders are out there fighting for pride and professionalism. The Isles are just outside the Wild Card picture but are 18 points back of Washington. Getting into the playoffs isn't impossible but there are better odds that I can play an NHL game than the Isles make the postseason.
Again, the Islanders are coming off a solid win over the Blue Jackets last night so there might not be too many changes in the lineup, but there are some interesting possibilities that might occur.
New York Islanders projected lineup vs New York Rangers
Mainly, what happens in the net? Ilya Sorokin is still day-to-day and at the time of writing, Cory Schneider is still up from the AHL on an emergency basis. Usually in a back-to-back situation, the goalies alternate, but will Barry Trotz opt to do so here?
In the past, when Schneider was the backup Trotz hasn't played him. But he's been playing well of late...at the AHL level. In his last ten starts with the Bridgeport Islanders Schneider is averaging a 2.20 GAA and 0.938SV% (with one shutout). That's really good.
I still imagine Varly will be the one to start the game, but if he isn't fresh after last night's game and Sorokin isn't ready to go Schneider might make his first NHL start in two years.
The other player to watch is Robin Salo. Also called up on an emergency basis, Salo sat and watched last night against Columbus. Whatever emergency exited for his call-up didn't actually exist last night. Could he step in tonight?
There were a few Islanders players who were banged up and not quite100%. Perhaps one of them isn't quite 100% tonight and Salo can step in. Sebastian Aho played relatively well last night so you'd suspect that he's still in the lineup tonight.
The last one is what happens with Kieffer Bellows? He played a team-low nine minutes last night against Columbus and was ineffective. With the "focus on toughness" 2022 Rangers, Ross Johnston could very well step in for the Islanders youngster.
*Game time decision