Here we are, post All Star game, staring at the last 32 games this season. The games that will make us or break us. It will answer the question, are we playoff contenders or pretenders.
Of course, we start this chain of games off with another visit by one of the top teams in the NHL, the Ottawa Senators. The Senators came into the All Star break halting a 3 game skid with a vicious 8-4 pounding on Tampa Bay. Heatley is still out. But they still can cause trouble with Alfredsson and Spezza.
But what will really mark tonight is how many bad feeling remain from the last game, from Freddy Meyer's crunching hit on Spezza, knocking him out of the game, and knocking the entire team off-kilter for the rest of the eve. Ottawa might have a bone to pick, but expect them to play a more disciplined game tonight.
They also come into NY with further goalie drama. Ray Emery came late to practice, causing a furor to the Gerber/Emery situation once again. Of course, this might be just over-wrought due to the Canadian presses who have been all over the Gerber/Emery situation. A report on TSN last night alluded that Emery believed the practice was at the the Coliseum, instead of Iceworks. But this is a second-time transgression, when he did it back last month. Emery seems to be on a short leash, in a situation in much of Ottawa's own making in making no decision on Emery/Gerber.
Emery has been an unhappy for most of this season. The difference is, when last year's whipping boy Martin Gerber was in the same boat last season, there wasn't much of this drama. So, it is a rather revealing difference between the two. Gerber bided his time and rebounded this season. Emery seems to be having far more trouble. Not to mention, a negatively viewed work ethic and habits.
Meanwhile, back to the Isles:
Rick DiPietro fresh of his all star minutes of fame, was off from practice yesterday. He is still expected to start tonight.
And Blake Comeau continues his eye-opening arrival to the NHL by earning more minutes on a line with Josef Vasicek and Miroslav Satan.
"He was skating well, making some good plays and hitting. He deserves a little bit more ice time."
- Ted Nolan, courtesy the NY Islanders website
"I will play the same physical game and try to get them the puck when I can. It's fun to play with them. They make good plays with the puck, and they're easy to play with. Hilbert, Jackman and I were successful keeping it simple and getting it in deep. Playing with different guys won't change that."
- Blake Comeau, courtesy the NY Islanders website