Islanders Look To Rebound Against The Nashville Predators

The Islanders will look to rebound from their first regulation loss of the season with a match-up tonight against the Nashville Predators.

The Isles fell 3-2 to the Chicago Blackhawks on Friday night in what was a somewhat sloppy game that saw a few of the team's defenseman out of position, leading to multiple scoring opportunities for the defending Stanley Cup champions.

Tonight, the Isles will look to rectify these mistakes and get back to their winning ways.

Evgeni Nabokov is expected to start in net on the second half of the back-to-back games, with Kevin Poulin having been between the pipes last night.

However, head coach Jack Capuano hinted after last night's loss that a few roster changes may be made for tonight's tilt with the Preds since last night's line-up had a few "passengers" that "held back" against their opponent.

Perhaps Capuano will re-insert Brock Nelson into the line-up. He was a healthy scratch last night against the Blackhawks so that Cal Clutterbuck could make his Islanders season debut. But that would require someone else to sit if Clutterbuck were to continue playing.

Pierre-Marc Bouchard has yet to register a point in the first four games of the season and could be a healthy scratch. Bouchard was brought in to supply some added offense with Brad Boyes having been let go over the summer. If he's not putting up points, then he is not doing his job.

Matt Donovan, who was impressive during the first three games of the season, was responsible for two Islanders goals last night. He was in too close with Poulin for Nordstrom's goal that gave the Hawks an early 1-0 lead.

He also was caught in the neutral zone on the rush that ended up giving Chicago the 3-2 lead as well. Although he returned to the Isles zone in time, he was out of position and not covering any of the opposing players, leaving Brain Strait alone in front to deal with two Blackhawks forwards.

Rookie mistakes are to be expected for the young d-man, but perhaps Capuano might consider scratching him to allow the physical presence of Matt Carkner to take care of bodies in front of the net.

The Predators are off to a slow start, having gone 1-3-0 to start the year. Youngsters Seth Jones and Filip Forsberg have been dressing with the club as regulars and their top line consists of Rich Clune, Matt Hendricks and Paul Gaustad. The latter was primarily used a depth forward with the Buffalo Sabres prior to being traded to Nashville. The same can be said for Hendricks with the Washington Capitals as well.

This is not the familiar Nashville team of the past, as they appear to be trying to develop some of their draft picks with a valuable group of veterans. The Islanders need to take advantage of this situation by utilizing their speed and ability to win one-on-one battles along the walls.

This is primarily because regardless of which skaters the Preds dress, Pekka Rinne is always a tough goaltender to solve. Fortunately for the Isles, Nabokov has a career record of 14-8-3 against the Predators with two shutouts and 2.26 GAA.

Puck drop is set for 8 PM tonight at the Bridgestone Arena in Nashville. 

-Rob McGowan
F