Islanders Look To 'Nail' Canadiens- Pre-Game
The New York Islanders can look to their last meeting against the Montreal Canadiens, a 4-2 defeat, as a possible turning point in their season.
A season, almost certainly without any playoffs.
The Islanders commence a 4 game road trip Saturday Night as they travel to Montreal to play the suddenly surging Canadiens in a battle of Eastern Conference futility.
Montreal comes into Saturday off a frustrating 2-1 overtime loss at Ottawa. The Senators came back from a 1-0 third period deficit to force the overtime session. Filip Kuba scored the game-winning goal at 3:27 into overtime. Even with the defeat, the Canadiens are 3-0-2 in their last five games. They lead the Islanders by 1 point for last place in the conference.
The Islanders travel to Canada on a five-game losing skid in which every game was decided by one goal. Their latest frustration was on Thursday, a 3-2 loss to the Philadelphia Flyers. Philly held a 3-0 lead mid-way into the third period before the Isles’ stormed back with two goal in under a minute to force a frantic finish. Ilya Bryzgalov continued his stellar play in goal for Philadelphia. He broke John Vanbiesbrouck’s all-time shut-out streak by over 20 minutes. Michael Grabner and John Tavares scored for the Islanders. Both Tavares and Matt Moulson have eclipsed the 30 goal plateau.
Montreal leads the season series 2-1-0 and has won their last two meetings against the Islanders. In order for the Islanders to have success tonight they need to keep their top line off the score-sheet. Eric Cole, Max Pacioretty, and Tomas Plekanec consistute their top line, the Canadiens go as this line goes. Carey Price has played in nearly every game this season. With this being essentially a meaningless game for both teams, back-up Peter Budaj could get a rare start in goal.
The Islanders, on the other hand, continue to find unbelievable ways to lose hockey games. Their most recent loss, a 3-2 home defeat to the Philadelphia Flyers, was the most frustrating. For 52 minutes, they let Philadelphia dicate every facet of the game as they built a comfortable 3-0 lead. All of a sudden, like a switch was turned on, the Islanders scored two goals in under a minute and looked like a completely different team. They had the puck in the Flyers zone for the rest of the game, with the exception of one shift, but were unable to tie the game. The isles' are currently in last place in the Eastern Conference with 67 points, 11 points out of the 8th and final playoff spot with 10 games remaining. The lone bright spots this week had both John Tavares and Matt Moulson eclipse the 30-goal plateau. It was Moulson's third straight season with at least 30. Tavares is tied for 8th in the leauge in scoring with 70 points. Tonight could also mark the return of Al Montoya to the Islanders goal. Evgeni Nabokov has played a lot of minutes, and by the looks of his performances recently, has definetly caught up with the veteran netminder At one point, Nabokov was near the top in every goaltending category, but the amount of work, coupled by the porous defense, has inflated his statistics to just around the league averages. Montoya will likely find himself without a team after the season and deserves a shot to at least show potenial suitors that he is capable post-concussion.
Depending on your prefence, this is an good game for Islanders fans. If you are in the 'fail for nail' camp, a loss here puts some distance between the Islanders and the rest of the Eastern Conference. If you want to see a potential victory, this is a game that is completely winnable. Then again, so were the last five.
I will be at MSG tonight for the Rangers/Avalanche game.( I love hockey, I'll literally go see anyone, see Federal Hockey League) My wife has never been to MSG to see a game, so it'll be a great experience for her. That being said, the Candiens are playing really well and are trying to end the season on a good note. Canadiens 5 Islanders 1.