Last season, when the Isles hit the road, you had a feeling that it would not be so horrible. In fact, with an over .500 record on the road, the Isles played a simpler game. One that would take advantage of their chances. They would find a way to ‘sneak’ out points, and get their opportunity to move up in the standings.
Well – the Isles need to start doing that at HOME; and tonight begins that quest.
Nashville comes into town for a rare visit to Uniondale. According to the Nashville Predators web site:
Nashville holds an 11-3-2 edge all-time in the series against the Islanders, and has garnered points in all 10 games since the start of the 2002-03 campaign, posting an 8-0-2 record. The Predators are 4-1-2 all-time at Nassau Coliseum.
These teams last met on Long Island in a matinee tilt on Jan. 16, 2012, as Nashville scored on its first two shots of the game before David Legwand closed out a three-goal first period for the Preds. Pekka Rinne made 36 saves, but was denied a shutout when John Tavares scored with 3:58 remaining.
These teams last met exactly a month ago in the Music City, when a four-goal second period, including Seth Jones’ first career goal, saw the game tied after 40 minutes. Ryan Ellis‘ goal 3:23 into the third period broke the tie as the Preds took home the 3-2 win.
If there was EVER a time to break a schneid, this is it! 0-8-2 in the last 10 against Nashville. This team is NOT the Detroit Red Wings, or San Jose Sharks. Nashville will lull you to sleep, and then pounce like a, uh, um, PREDATOR!
The Isles need to forget the trip, and concentrate on the here and now.
Hamonic will be in the lineup tonight. The injury was not as serious as originally thought when the game in Montreal ended. Thank goodness for that.
Vanek will be out tonight, but could possibly return on Thursday night when the Kings come a calling.
What do the Isles need to do tonight?
Well – establish a presence for starters. The entire Carolina game, despite what the ‘experts’ said, the team looked like they were going through motions. Right now – this team need to ‘convince’ the fans that they mean business. We all know, that they work hard at practice, and try at games, but it just does not look like that. They need to look like they did against the Bruins last week.
They are not facing Pekka Rinne who usually OWNS the Isles. Carter Hutton will be the starter in the nets. He has a 4.26 GAA and has been pulled twice this season. The Preds have been shut out in their last two contests, but with their history against the Isles, I just do not think that their recent game history will repeat.
Last week was probably the worst week I saw John Tavares play. Yes, he did get helpers and moved to the top of the team’s scoring leader board. However, I never thought I would use the word un-inspired to describe him. Again, it is appearances. I know that #91 will never be a spectator, and he at times is dragging one or two players around the 200 feet of rink. But the JT that was a Hart Trophy candidate last season, was able to rise above that, and make plays and be the force that he needs to be.
The defense needs to be so much better. Playing so many minutes a game is destroying Andrew MacDonald. Pepole should now realize that this team missed Lubomir Visnovsky so much. He is not the biggest person on the ice, and definitely not the swiftest either, but he will always be at the right place at the right time. Positionally, he is so valuable to this team. He also makes his partner a better player. We need him back in the worst way.
Passes need to be sharper and crisper; and that needs to begin with their sticks. I have never seen so many sticks be crumbling on passes and breakouts as opposed to slappers from the point. This needs to improve dramatically.
To keep Nashville at bay, you have to slow down the Captain, Shea Weber; but now you have to watch Seth Jones too. The Rookie has started his NHL career nicely, and will be a fixture there for years to come. He (Jones) beat the Isles a few weeks back, and you will keep notice of him tonight.
This team will not score a bunch of goals, or be a force on you, but you have to play smart, and make your opportunities count. And if you get an opening and a breakway, PLEASE FINISH!
Well – I will be working the game tonight. To follow me – @islessection317. I will be using the #isles hash tag. Please comment if you can. If you are at the game – let me know. I will be at the Booster Club 50/50 table at Gate 17 during the first intermission, and want to know what you think of the first period.
Hopefully the home stand will make this team improve. They need to show something, and show it NOW! Some bad things may happen if they don’t.
BTW – I am predicting a crowd announcement of just over 10K with an ‘actual’ of about 8K.
Prediction – the Isles will end their losing streak and the offense will wake up. Final – Isles 5 – Preds 2.