The Time: 7:00 PM EST
The Broadcast: TV - MS+2, MSG+
The New York Islanders are coming into this game with two things the New Jersey Devils do not have:
- Two days of rest since their last game
- Their number one center
The Islanders have not had the start to the season they’d probably hoped. They shutout the Rangers and then got absolutely spanked by them in the following game, losing 5-0 after their starting goalie took a shot up high in warmups, leaving their rookie goaltender who had never played an NHL game to fend for himself behind a startled Islanders team. It obviously did not go well for any of them, as the Islanders never really got their composure back and just took a walloping from the suddenly sparkling Rangers offense. They recovered well, beating the Boston Bruins 1-0 despite seemingly struggling to keep up with Boston in the first period. Semyon Varlamov has kept the Islanders in every win this season, now running on a two-game, 51 save shutout streak which the Bruins could not break.
Varlamov will most likely be the one player to beat tonight. Keep Matt Barzal’s line in check of course and pepper Varlamov with shots, and we should be able to come out on top. That is, if we can keep our own composure and not come out in a flash then limp through the second and third period as we did against the Rangers.
The Devils reassigned Kevin Bahl to the taxi squad and had him participate in practice yesterday. No word on the practice lines or anything hinting at if he will actually be playing in tonights game.
In a bit of good news unrelated to tonights game, Jesper Bratt has been added to the NHL covid list, which means he has arrived in NJ and should be able to participate by next weekend if all goes well.
Sharangovitch - Hughes - Palmieri
Johnsson - Zacha - Gusev
Wood - Zajac - Boqvist
Kuokkanen - McLeod - Bastian
Subban - Murray
Kulikov - Severson
Smith - Tennyson
As I mentioned last week, I’m not a fan of these defensive pairings at all and I don’t agree with Tennyson playing in place of Butcher, shooting hand be damned, but Ruff has done good work so far and based on his comments its unlikely these will be the permanent lines for every matchup. The addition of Kevin Bahl to practice may spark some of these changes (and is very interesting considering he’s yet another left D) so we’ll just have to wait and see. Hopefully we’ll see a continuation of the strong performances we’ve gotten from guys like Hughes and Sharangovitch who’ve been lightning offensively, Wood who’s been a pleasant surprise (and personal I-told-you-so), Smith and Murray who’ve been great at the blueline, and of course Blackwood the Brickwall.
Island Time Lines:
The Islanders have lost RW Josh Bailey to covid protocol, so Kiefer Bellows slotted in his line at practice yesterday, giving us these lines-
Lee - Barzal - Eberle
Beauvillier - Nelson - Bellows
Johnston - Pageau - Komorov
Martin - Czikas - Clutterbuck
Peleck - Pulock
Leddy - Mayfield
Greene - Dobson
How do you feel about the D pairings? Which offensive line are you expecting to see the most out of tonight? What do you think is the best approach for us to win this game?
Leave your thoughts and predictions in the comments and as always, thanks for reading!