PreGame Report: 12.2.14 - Islanders vs Senators

Who's Number 1?

When was the last time an Islander goaltender eclipsed 9-straight wins? You'd have to go back over 30 years to the 4-Time Stanley Cup Winning Billy Smith. Jaro has the chance tonight to join his company as he is in search of his career best and franchise best 10th straight victory. Halak earned First Star of the Week honors by NHL.com for his stellar work between the pipes and has risen to the form all Islander fans have been praying for since the '06-'07 collapse of (former) franchise netwminder and Long Island loved Rick DiPietro. (Has anyone seen pics of Rick lately? yikes....)

Who's the Opponent?

The Ottawa Senators - Coming into tonight with a 10-9-4 record, good (terrible) enough for 7th in the Atlantic, but still only 3pts back from Toronto for the wild card. They lost two games back-to-back and four of their last five, with their last regualtion win versus Nashville (really?) on October 20th.

What to Know?

The Senators are having some goal scoring issues. Which means this will probably end up being a 5-4 game. O wait.... this is not 2013... these Islanders have learned to close out games and hold non-playoff (and Playoff) teams to dismal offense when they come out and establish their game.

Who to Watch?

New York Islanders - (C) John Tavares - Yes, I picked seemingly the most obvious player. But, while Tavares has turned in a very respectable 23pts (10g, 13a) in 24 games this season, we as fans can admit he has been noticeably invisible at times during games. While IMO JT's visibility (or lack there of) is more an extension of the team playing great hockey as a unit and whenever he finally 'turns up', this team will be that much scarier. In the mean time, he is starting to build his defensive game, with the recent addition of defensive and possession beast Niko Kulemin, and has vastly improved in the faceoff dot.

Ottawa Senators - (LW) Mike Hoffman - The underdog players are always a threat. Mike Hoffman has been a pleasant surprise of the Senators putting up a healthy 7 goals on the year, including 6 in a 5 game stretch during November. He also holds one of the few plus ratings on the team, leading the pack with a +7. Be mindful of the streaky sleepers.

What to Remember?

This is the Isles first match of three including Home and Homes tonight and Thursday vs the Senators. This is also the first Isles game of December, meaning we have to say goodbye (with a joyful tear for the first time in a long time) to the No-Lose month of November.

What The Isles Need to do to Win?

Establish their game early - It may sound repetitve, simple and studip but thats half of what you'll here in K.I.S.S. hockey (Keep it Simple Stupid... and save the last S for savings if you can).

The Isles must come out and hit hard. The senators are a quick transition team with an elite puck-mover on the backend in newley dubbed Captian Erik Karlsson. And even without Jason Spezza this team still has big bodies and guys that can hurt you if you try and do too much.

This team cannot afford to come out slow like they did versus Washington. The goaltending is good and they will need to play aggressive and with a purpose to pullout a very big win to start the month off.

As Always follow Rob McGowan and the rest of the @TCLIsles crew and their awesome insight and reports. You can also follow me at @PrayIslesBattle for whit, commentary and randomness only the Gods truly understand.