Thursday, December 15th, 2011, 6:00 PM CST
Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum
Opponent SB Nation Blog: Lighthouse Hockey
It was remarked by John Tortorella in New York after Tuesday night's game that the Dallas Stars and New York Rangers had no hate for each other, and that it was perhaps a boring game (or at least one devoid of intensity) owing to lack of animosity. Who'd have thought that a team employing Brad Richards, Sean Avery and Jeff Woywotika would provide less passion for the Stars to feed on than the New York Islanders?
That, of course, is because the Islanders came to Dallas on December 3rd as one of the worst road teams (and offensive teams) in the league and shocked the Stars by jumping out to a 3-0 lead, eventually winning the game 5-4 in a wild affair.
The Stars were not happy with their effort. The Islanders were not happy with Mark Fistric's hit on Nino Niederreiter. Matt Moulson and the Islanders' top line hung four all by themselves on Dallas. There should be a few a more reasons to come out swinging tonight, as opposed to Tuesday at MSG.
"When their top line scores four goals you are going to have a tough time winning. We battled back but you can't give any team a 3-0 lead in this league and expect to win, but we almost did," remarked Eric Nystrom after that one. Nystrom will have a ton of family and friends in the building tonight for this one.
The other big story, apart from avenging a frustrating loss, is of course Richard Bachman. The rookie is 2-0-0 now and has stopped 71 of 72 shots in three appearances this season. He will start his third consecutive game tonight in a bid to shutdown a team that proved themselves offensively formidable in Dallas recently.
Much more on each team after the jump...The Stars:
There isn't much to discuss in the area of injuries lately and how the lines might be shuffled. That suits the Stars' coaching staff just fine, no doubt, but makes for fairly boring conversations on blogs like this one.
The news today is that Mark Fistric is eligible to return to play tonight against the very team that helped him earn his three game suspension. Nino Niederreiter has not played a game since Mark Fistric caught him skating up ice with his head down. The league deemed it to be a charge and Fistric has sat, but so has Adam Pardy. Philip Larsen has represented himself well in a call-up role and the returns of Goligoski and Daley to the lineup made the Fistric suspension moot to a certain extent.
Now the club has eight healthy defensemen on the NHL roster, and a decision on the long term situation will need to be made before too long. Larsen has looked good and played well against the Islanders, but the question is: How long are they willing to carry eight D? Glen Gulutzan said they might dress seven blue-liners tonight in New York.
The forward group, despite producing very little in the way of offense for weeks now, is expected to remain the same.
Is this the game the Benn line re-boots and starts producing again?
Bachman in net for his third straight start, of course. Is that a sentence you thought you'd hear when the season began?
The Islanders entered that game in Dallas two weeks ago the worst offensive team in the NHL at 2.07 goal/game. A five goal outburst at the American Airlines Center followed be another five-spot in Tampa Bay has bolstered their confidence a bit. The team has 27 goals in their last eight games total (3.34 per game) and can no longer be considered quiet or anemic. The Stars should be ready for a talented team this time, and a dangerous one at that.
Defensively, however, they can still be exploited. They've surrendered 14 goals in their last three outtings, all losses. They're 6-7-3 in their own building and sit second to last in the Eastern Conference ahead of the Carolina Hurricanes. They've dropped five of their last six at home by a combined score of 21-13.
The Islander lineup lately, featuring, as we now know, the lethal Matt Moulson...
Staios, however, will not play tonight against the Stars. There are reports that he has concussion like symptoms, so they'll have to shake up their D a little bit. Here's Newsday with analysis...
Staios played 17:57 in Montreal last night but was feeling symptoms of a concussion this morning and missed practice getting examined. He is definitely out of tomorrow night's game against the Stars per NHL concussion protocol, which means the team will be calling up a sixth defenseman from Bridgeport.
Which means either Aaron Ness or Calvin de Haan will be making his NHL debut tomorrow.
Ness, the Isles' 2nd-round pick in 2008, has two goals and eight assists and is a minus-6 in 26 games for the Sound Tigers. De Haan, the 12th overall pick in 2009, has two goals and six assists in 22 games and is a minus-1.
Ness impressed the Islanders with his play in training camp. De Haan plays a more cool, reserved style, but has tremendous upside.
"They got to get their feet wet sometime," Mark Streit said. "I'm not worried about either of those guys. We saw them in training camp and they're both good young players." [Newsday]
The Islanders roll in at 23rd on the penalty kill at 80.6%. Their power play has struggled of late, going just 1 of their last 15.