It's the New York Islanders last game before heading back home and they stop in Toronto to face the Maples Leafs for the final time this year. Toronto has a 2-0 record against the Isles this year with a +5 goal differential.
So while the Leafs won't enter the matchup expecting another win they know their game is good enough to get another one.
Thankfully for the Isles, they're in a much better place now than they were when they faced the Leafs earlier in the season. Since the calendar turned to April the Isles hold a 5-3-0 record. Most of that on the road; they've only played one home game this month. So, again, they enter Toronto in a better place.
New York Islanders vs Toronto Maple Leafs: Semyon Varlamov still ill
Someone who may not be in a better place is Semyon Varlamov. The Isles keeper is still out of the lineup for this one. According to Barry Trotz Varlamov still can't keep anything down.
Varly just isn't having a good time in Canada this year. Remember when the Isles played their Western Canadian road trip and Varlamov picked up COVID in Calgary? Varlamov had to stay back for a while before he could rejoin his teammates south of the border. ANd now this stomach bug that kept him out of the lineup in Montreal and tonight.
No worries for the Islanders who can put Ilya Sorokin between the pipes. Sorokin's been excellent this year and over his last five games. He might hold a 3-2-0 record, which is...fine, but he's averaging a 0.930SV% and 2.20GAA. That's incredible goalkeeping. And usually enough to get them a few more wins. Which tells you the issue isn't goalkeeping but the team in front of the keeper that's the problem.
So, any changes to said team for today?
If there is a change it will take place on the fourth line. Oliver Wahlstrom played on the right side of the fourth line against Montreal and was largely invisible. Which isn't really a bad thing. Sure, he's not creating offense but he wasn't coughing up the puck or making bad decisions with it either.
Kieffer Bellows has been doing very well the last few games, even picking up a secondary assist on Zach Parise's goal in Montreal. I'd imagine Trotz lets the young man continue to build off of that.
Ross Johnston could step in after sitting the last one out for a poor play in the second Pittsburgh game over the week. Johnston isn't going to light things up offensively but he could keep some of the Leafs' grindier players, like Wayne Simmonds in check.
I know that last point might not be too salient when it comes to the lineup but consider that the Leafs have booked their ticket to the postseason already and might fancy a game with a bit more..."sandpaper" as a test before heading to the playoffs. So don't be surprised if Johnston is in tonight.
Islanders Projected Lineup