It seems like the team has been on the road for weeks now, but the final game of this road swing is tonight up in Buffalo against the struggling Sabres. I have had quite the busy schedule the last several days, so I apologize for not posting – but there really wasn’t much in the way of Islanders news. It was nice being able to take the time to rest and recuperate from being sick – I feel almost 100% now.
There are so many intangibles regarding both the Sabres and the Islanders, that there is plenty of speculation going around by fans of both teams as to which version of their respective clubs will show up tonight. Rather then get into this aspect myself; here are a few of the sites discussing this topic:
Islander Frontier discusses the hot start of the Isles and the back to back season opening sweep of the Sabres. Dominik also references the importance of the Islanders power play against a team that has shown it can score more than two goals a game this season.
My fellow Blog Boxer B.D. Gallof who covers the Isles for Hockeybuzz, also talks about the season opening back to back and compares the Isles to “Jekyll and Hyde”. He goes on to discuss the players lost by Buffalo and the players the Islanders gained during free agency and how each team compares to the season prior. B.D. always has a satirical twist to his posts and today’s is no different.
The Drive For Five also gives his take on tonight’s match up, saying should the Islanders pull out a win tonight – they would be a step closer to forming an identity after playing a bunch of tough road games.
With so much emphasis on the current struggles of the Islanders power play, one would expect a fair amount of changes tonight facing a team whom we beat in part to the success of our power plays. One such change is the platooning of defenseman Freddy Meyer and Marc-Andre Bergeron. Meyer has not seen much action since he was reacquired from Phoenix on re-entry waivers, and Bergeron has been a healthy scratch numerous times this season. Bergeron will get the nod tonight however and will see time on the power play tonight, per Greg Logan’s latest blog entry. Greg has a bunch of great quotes from Head Coach Ted Nolan on Bergeron and after reading the entry, it is safe to assume that there are no hard feelings after the heated exchange between Bergeron and Assistant Coach Gerard Gallant last week. In fact, Nolan praises Bergeron’s work on the power play of past and let’s him know he wants him to play his game instead of trying to hard out there – words of praise to a man who hasn’t been on the most solid of ground in the Coach’s eyes.
If the Islanders aim to be successful tonight, they need to continue with the strong play they showed against Tampa in the neutral zone, on the penalty kill and on the power play. They moved their feet, skated hard, finished checks and had hard crisp passes. Buffalo has shown that they can be beaten this season and the Islanders have shown they have what it takes to beat them. If there were ever a game poised to see an offensive outburst by the Islanders, tonight could very well be that night with forwards such as Bill Guerin, Andy Hilbert and Mike Sillinger all netting rare goals against Tampa. Hockey is sometimes about being hot at the right times – hopefully the Islanders get hot and stay hot to get out of their offensive slump. Either way, it should be a great game.