Sabres Visit the Island on Patrick Flatley Night
Buffalo makes it first visit to Long Island tonight as they take on the Islanders. With both teams currently needing a win to keep their playoff chances alive this game looks to be a good one. The Islanders, with Thursday’s lost to the Flyers find themselves 12 points back and Buffalo a lot closer with 5 points out of a playoff spot. This is only the second meeting of four between these two with the Islanders winning the first one 2-1 in Buffalo on November 29th. Buffalo is currently struggling on the road with a seven game losing streak in regulation which should hopefully work in the Isles favor for this one.
After a hard fought effort in Thursday’s game I don’t expect to see line changes for tonight’s affair. The only change in the lineup that I can see would hopefully be to give Kevin Poulin a start and rest Evgeni Nabokov. Nabokov has played 10 games in a row now and I know his next win will be his 300th but Poulin was extremely hot in Bridgeport before his call-up and Nabokov did look like he needed a mental break during the game against the Flyers. Secondary scoring needs to start showing its face on the Islanders team if they truly want to start winning a serious amount of games. Moulson and Tavares are great players together and put the puck in the need often but they can’t be counted on to do all of the scoring for this team. The line of Martin, Bailey, and Grabner has had its flashes during the past few games and is creating chances; they just need to start finding the back of the net on a few more of those chances. The 2nd line of Rolston, Neilsen, and Parentau has been doing ok but just doesn’t seem all there, if any line was to get a shake-up this would be it. I would like to see the young Nino finally get some big line minutes to show us something and have him work with Frans and PA. I don’t see that happening for this game but it would be a good change for the future that should hopefully produce some goals. The defense for the Islanders has been good over the past few days and hopefully they can keep that up against the Sabres.
The Sabres are struggling with their own problems coming into this game as the injury bug seems to have bitten them hard. They are however coming off a win last night over the Toronto Maple Leafs at home. They will look to keep their winning ways going tonight.
Tonight the team also honors former captain Patrick Flatley and inducts him in the Islanders Hall of Fame during a pregame ceremony. The homegrown talent that was a great player for the Islanders during the 1990’s will get his place in the Hall next to like of other Islanders greats such as Bossy, Gillies and others.
One final note, The Islanders announced yesterday that Rick DiPietro will head into surgery today to repair a sports hernia. The injury should sideline him for 10 weeks but most suggest that he will be ready to return with such little time left in the season that they won’t rush him back and just make sure he is ready for the start of next season. In my personal opinion I feel for the guy, he works so hard to come back from injury after injury and just can’t seem to stay healthy. Most fans can’t seem to get past his outlandish contract and want to find away to get him out of town. But the cold hard truth is that contract was given to him and he didn’t ask for it and you ask any person in America if they would sign a contract for 15 years at a job that would pay them $4.5 million a year, I don’t think many if any would say no. I know his injuries and bad play recently have hurt the team a little bit but give the guy a break no one wants to see anyone go through that much pain and suffering year after year.
That is all, I thank you for reading and enjoy the game tonight everyone!
Follow me on twitter @JLink12
Follow the rest of The Checking Line Islanders Edition @TCLIsles