Islanders travel to Carolina for their first meeting of the season

The Islanders start on a three game road trip and look to continue their two game winning streak. The first stop on the trip is visiting the last place in the Eastern Conference Hurricanes. This is the first meeting of the season between these two teams. The two teams are currently tied at the bottom of the Eastern Conference and the Islanders will look to change that with a win.

The lines from the Islanders practice Sunday stayed the same from the game against the Oilers. They were:

Moulson-Tavares-Okposo

Rolston-Nielsen-Parenteau

Grabner-Bailey-Martin

Niederreiter-Reasoner-Wallace

John Tavares (Bridget Samuels/Flickr)One of the bigger stories for this road trip is that Rick DiPietro will be making the trip as a third goalie. There hasn’t been a report yet on whether or not he will play or dress during the trip. DiPietro has been out with a groin injury since December 3rd. Andres Nilsson is still currently with the team on loan from Bridgeport and is expected to dress with the Islanders until DiPietro is ready to play. DiPietro has had his struggles this season before the injury so hopefully he has had enough time to heal from the injury and also work on his game. The other news coming out of Islanders practice Sunday was that Micheal Haley was returned to Bridgeport. With the team starting to get healthier he was no longer needed.

Personally I think the line of Grabner, Bailey and Martin will be interesting to watch. Bailey has been playing much better as of late and his play making skills will give Martin and Grabner plenty of chances to put the puck in the net. Martin will also be a great force in front of the net to screen the goalie while Bailey and Grabner look to generate chances from further away. The Islanders need to keep working on getting anything to spark the offense as they are still the lowest in the league in goals for this season with 84. Although after being shut out at Madison Square Garden two games ago the Islanders have combined for seven goals for and only two against. Once the offense is able to get going the results in game should also start to change and hopefully to more wins which is exactly what the doctor ordered.

The Hurricanes are also having their own struggles this season. Tied with the Islanders in points so far this season, the Islanders do have a slight advantage in the standings due to having four games at hand. Part of the Hurricanes struggles could be contributed to the fact that their leading scorer Jeff Skinner has missed the last 10 games with a concussion. He has returned to practice but still isn’t cleared for contact just yet. Carolina does, however, get to play this game at home where they have a record of 9-10-2.

With the calendar just changing years and so much of this season still to play this still seems like a game the Islanders must win. A winning streak to start the year and possibly jump start some momentum for the rest of the season should be a focus for the Islanders going into this game. The Islanders are 11 points out of a playoff spot with games in hand on most teams. The playoffs seem like a long shot but a nice win to start the year would make anything seem possible.

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