Boulton IN, Ullstrom OUT
Cizikas/McDonald to 3rd Line
Reasoner/Boulton to 4th Line
Martinek OUT, Finley IN
Tale of the Tape
TOR 12-9-0 NYI 8-11-1
Goals For: TOR 2.81 NYI 2.80
Goals Against: TOR 2.43 NYI 3.40
Special Teams TOR: PP 16.5%(19th) PK 81.7%(15th)
Special Teams NYI: PP 23.5% (6th) PK 84.9% (7th)
Leafs Road Record 8-4-0
Islanders Home Record 2-8-0
Season Series: 1-0 New York (7-4 January 24th)
Currently Riding: TOR 1L NYI 2L
Matt Moulson - John Tavares - Brad Boyes
Josh Bailey - Frans Nielsen - Kyle Okposo
Michael Grabner - Marty Reasoner - David Ullstrom
Matt Martin - Casey Cizikas - Colin McDonald
Travis Hamonic - Andrew MacDonald
Thomas Hickey - Lubomir Visnovsky
Mark Streit - Radek Martinek
After dropping yet another home decision on Tuesday, this time against the Bruins, the Islanders are playing host to the Toronto Maple Leafs tonight.
There were a lot of good things to take away from the loss to the Bruins. Takeaways, shots and hits were all in favor of New York and those are statistics that the Islanders will want to be on top of again tonight against Toronto.
The Leafs play a similar style of physical hockey like the Bruins do, but are not quite as talented, so if the Islanders can get those intangibles to sway on their side they should be able to capitalize on their chances.
James Reimer is expected to be back in nets for Toronto and he has a history of coming back slow from an injury, something the Islanders should keep in mind when entering the zone. The book has been out on Reimer’s glove since he entered the league so watch for multiple Islanders trying to take advantage of the young netminders weakness.
1. Don’t be intimidated. The Leafs have several players that throw their weight around and don’t shy away from the rough stuff so the Islanders are going to have to keep their emotions in check and pick their battles.
2. Get shots on net. While the Leafs goaltending has played pretty well over the course of the season, they aren’t the best tenders in the game. New York has to pile on the shots and, maybe, they’ll get some lucky bounces like Montreal did against Toronto last night.
3. Win face-offs. The Islanders won 43% of the face-offs against Boston. That number has to come up to at least 50%. Winning face-offs gives you a chance to breakout from your own zone (Cizikas goal) and get a quick shot off the draw (Gallagher’s tip last night). Life is a lot easier when you can win face-offs.
This isn’t a game that Capuano should be concerned about match-ups. He can pretend all he wants that he wasn’t concerned against Boston, but I watched the game. He played dodge-the-giant with Tavares and Chara. The Leafs have physical players on almost every line, but none to the extent of Chara, so he needs to roll his lines as per normal and make sure JT gets 22-23 minutes on the ice.
After having lapses in almost every game that caused goals against, the Islanders have got to move those situations out of their mind. A quick start can be had against a Leaf team who played a tough match-up last night against Montreal and then traveled to New York for today’s game. Get the puck in deep and forecheck hard to create turnovers, one point of their game that they are great at (4th in the league now in takeaways).
Evgeni Nabokov is expected to be between the pipes again tonight and he’ll need to be in top form. The Islanders defensemen will need to focus on keeping Phil Kessel and Nazem Kadri along the boards so they don’t have time to set up cross-ice plays. Both Kadri and Kessel have been excellent play-makers for Toronto this year.
The line featuring Nielsen, Bailey and Okposo have to step up their game and provide some secondary scoring. Okposo is due for a goal, he had some good chances last game and had a solid outing. That doesn’t erase how poorly he’s played all season, but the Islanders need him to be involved in this game.
If the Islanders continue to drop games and have significant collapses, Jack Capuano might find his seat getting warmer and warmer. He’s struggled with his lines for most of the season and prematurely pulled Nabokov in Tuesday’s game. Garth Snow isn’t going anywhere because he’ll say yes to Charles Wang. The players aren’t going to change because Charles Wang has already hit the cap floor. What’s left? Jack and his misuse of misfits.
It should be a good game tonight and someone’s losing streak will end, hopefully it will be the Islanders.
Thanks for reading, you can find me on twitter @chiassontb during the game tonight if you want to chat.