The Rematch We've All Been Waiting For: Islanders Host Penguins in Final Home Game of 2010-2011
Out of the 82 games the Islanders will have played this season, there may not be a single one as highly-anticipated as tonight's.
That's because they'll be facing off against the Pittsburgh Penguins, and doing so for the first time since their 9-3 blowout victory at Nassau Coliseum. Of course, that contest also featured more drama than CSI and House combined. The Isles and Pens racked up over three-hundred penalty minutes and, by the end of night, there were hardly any players remaining on either side.
Naturally, this sequence of events didn't sit to well with Commissioner Bettman, Colin Campbell and the rest of the National Hockey League. Islander forwards Trevor Gillies and Matt Martin were handed lengthy suspensions, while, on the Penguins side, only Eric Godard was punished. Charles Wang won't soon forget the moment either. The league had the Isles fork over $10,000 for "failure to control their players."
We all know how the rest of the story goes. Mario Lemieux cried out over this "travesty," Zenon Konopka promises to take his Lemieux posters off his wall, Penguin fans can't get enough of the "villain" that is Trevor Gillies, and so on and so forth.
Tonight, the two squads will meet at center ice once again, both with one thing on their minds: Revenge.
Al Montoya will start in goal for the New York Islanders, and yet another defenseman has been called up after receiving an ATO (Amateur Tryout). That would be Jamie Doornbosch, a blueliner who most recently played for Kitchener of the OHL. Jack Hillen is questionable for tonight's game.
While the Isles certainly want to exact their own pound of flesh, they are best doing so on the scoreboard. Stay out of penalty trouble, don't get too caught up in the hype. The last thing this franchise needs is more bad publicity. The Islanders need to go out there tonight and play smart hockey. If they come away with the win, no one will be complaining.
Players to Watch
Zenon Konopka: He had more than a bit to say about Mr. Lemieux's remarks back in February, and he voiced his frustration over the league's decision to suspend Gillies. You can be sure that he's going to do everything he can to show the Penguins how he feels.
Travis Hamonic: He is the best defender on the roster at the moment and he needs to play like it. Look for him to step up his compete level, he's going to want to finish his impressive rookie campaign on a high.
Josh Bailey: If there is any player on this team that needs a goal more than anyone else, it's Josh Bailey. One could argue that this season was a bit of a step back for the young forward, and he's got to find a way to put some points on the board before the clock strikes midnight. I think he will do just that in this game.
Make sure to check back later for Evan Pivnick's recap of tonight's game, and be here at 7PM for a liveblog with Rob McGowan!
Follow Daniel Friedman on Twitter: @nyifaceoff360