The New York Islanders are still on the road with a date in Edmonton. It's another late-game with a 9:00 PM puck drop. I'm sure we're all relieved a little with a late start on a Friday night versus one during a weeknight. That 10:30 PM start on Wednesday in Vancouver was rough. I'm still tired two days later.
With a 6-3 win over the Canucks on Wednesday night/early Thursday morning, the Islanders are certainly feeling good about themselves. But they're heading into a matchup that doesn't favor them.
Not only because the Oilers have the best player in the NHL whose main skill set is making high-level plays off the rush and at full speed. A relatively slow team like the Islanders find it tough to contain that high-end talent and speed.
Now add a new coach bounce for the Oilers. After firing Dave Tippett, AHL bench boss Jay Woodcroft takes over for the Oilers who are six points back of a wildcard spot. Every player on the roster will be on their "best behavior" in order to impress the new bench boss.
A fast team with not only an elite player but the best in the game, getting a new coach bounce (as well as all of his teammates) on the road spells out a tough night in my books.
New York Islanders vs Edmonton Oilers: Lineup issue?
Now, Barry Trotz has said he'll ice a similar lineup to the one that he had on Wednesday. Which, I guess isn't a bad thing considering they won 6-3, but with Kyle Palmieri returning he can't possibly follow up with the same lineup.
I can't see him icing the same team with Palmieri back from parental leave. Putting Palmieri in certainly pushes Johnston out of the lineup surely. That alone changes a lot of the "identity balance" Trotz had going on. Unless Beau comes out. But while Beauvillier was the least utilized player on Wednesday I can't see Trotz scratching him yet again.
I understand that Palmieri hasn't been productive this year, but he's playing the "right way" and the Islanders need him to be productive again. That's why I can't see them making him a healthy scratch unless they have to.
But we'll see, right? No one could have predicted the lineup that Trotz put together on Wednesday.