Game Preview:Isles Take on the Phoenix Coyotes at The Coliseum
After collecting 3 out of a possible 4 points in the first two games of the year, the New York Islanders look to keep the good times rolling with a matchup against a team that many believe can surprise a lot of people this season, the Phoenix Coyotes.
The Coyotes (1-1-0, 2 points) started the new season with a pair of 4-1 decisions, one was a win over the New York Rangers at home, while they lost the second in San Jose to the Sharks. The Islanders (1-0-1, 3 points) are looking to bounce back from their home opening shootout loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets on Saturday night, after surrendering a 2 goal lead in the 3rd period.
Evgeni Nabokov will once again get the start in goal for the Islanders, and it looks like he will be opposed by the Coyotes prized goalie, Mike Smith. With the Coyotes beginning a stretch of 4 games in 6 days against Eastern Conference teams it will be interesting to see how they deal with their goalie situation and while it has not yet been confirmed Smith seems to be the starter tonight.
The puck will drop at 7:00pmEST in Uniondale, NY at the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum. The game can be seen on MSG+ and heard on WRHU88.7FM/WRCN103.9FM.
Coach Jack Capuano will roll out the same lines for the 3rd straight game. It was thought that after practicing fully yesterday, new forward Cal Clutterbuck, would be in the lineup tonight, but Capuano says he needs to see him go after the puck stronger in practice. With Clutterbuck on the verge of making his debut with the Islanders there must be a supplemental move made and many with knowledge of the situation see the departure of Griffin Reinhart back to the WHL.
New York must keep up the offense and continue to protect Nabokov on the defensive end. The 3rd period of the Blue Jackets game no withstanding, the Islanders have been sharp in their own zone. Also Nabokov has not allowed many rebounds, something that proved to be his shortfall last season.
Phoenix has proved to be dangerous offensively by scoring 4 goals against Henrik Lundqvist opening night, as Radim Vrbata got himself a natural hat trick. Defensemen Oliver Ekman-Larsson and Derek Morris are listed as questionable for tonight’s game and could prove to be a huge break for the Islanders strong offense.
The Coliseum should be loud and the Islanders usually feed off of the crowd’s intensity, they just must make sure they play within themselves and do not force the puck into areas that can cause turnovers. The Islanders first 2 games resulted in a shootout win and shootout loss, they will look to take care of business in regulation tonight.
Islanders 3 Keys to the Game:
- Play sound defense. Continue to protect the goalie from multiple shots and do not take dumb penalties by letting the forwards skate past you.
- Shot the puck. The Isles have been outshot in the opening 2 games. The only way to score is to shoot and with Mike Smith in net they need as many shots as possible.
- Force turnovers. The Isles have been stealing the puck at will and turning those takeaways into odd man rushes which have resulted in a couple of scores.
Projected Lineup (According to Dailyfaceoff.com):
26 Moulson-91 Tavares(C)-21 Okposo(A)
12 Bailey-51 Nielsen-40 Grabner
29 Nelson-16 Regin-96 Bouchard
17 Martin-53 Cizikas-13 McDonald
47 MacDonald(A)-3 Hamonic
14 Hickey-11 Visnovsky
37 Strait-46 Donovan
Scratched: 36-Boulton, 7-Carkner, 8-Reinhart