Come and saddle up this afternoon for some Sunday morning hockey. I can’t imagine what else you might have to watch at noon on a Sunday, so get ready to watch literally the Islanders play the Stars in a basketball arena. There is sometimes a cool car on the baseline, I mean “behind the hockey boards in this, a hockey rink.” So, keep an eye out for that.
The Stars play seven of their next eight games on the road, starting with a contest against the Islanders at noon today in Brookyln.
The Islanders are playing far better than expected, or perhaps we should say they have earned more points than expected, as their play seems to be a bit of a mirage: the Isles have the highest PDO in the league, and it’s not particularly close. They have the best shooting percentage in the league to go with the 3rd-best goaltending results, and that’s going to get you some points in the old standings bucket.
For all that grit/luck/Lou magic, the Isles are one loss away from mirroring the Stars’ record. With a 10-6-2 line, it’s not like they’ve staked themselves to an immovable 2nd place in the (awful) Metropolitan division or anything.
Dallas, meanwhile, has chugged along to maintain a first wild card spot in the West despite driving a car with two flat tires and an engine that keeps misfiring. They’ll add to that vehicle with two new (familiar) faces, as Roope Hintz and Ben Gleason were both recalled from Cedar Park to join the Stars in the Biggest of Apples.
The Gleason recall seemed a foregone conclusion with Marc Methot and [everyone] still getting healthy, but the Hintz recall was a bit surprising given Denis Gurianov’s first NHL goal in his last call-up, and Hintz’s somewhat underwhelming debut to start the season. Hintz, you may recall, earned a spot out of camp, forcing the Stars to send Remi Elie through waivers, upon which the Buffalo Sabres claimed him. Hintz had five games in Dallas before being sent back to Texas, and his impact was negligible at times, if solid in some of its more basic details. Still, the Stars wanted Hintz, and Hintz they will get. We shall see if Dallas finds him useful as they face the Isles, Rangers and Penguins over the next four days. Tyler Pitlick was fighting a bug in practice Saturday, so keep an eye on that, come game time.
Esa Lindell will be running the top power play unit because, in Montgomery’s words, it hasn’t been working, so let’s try something else. I am paraphrasing.
As for rosters, keep an eye out as gametime approaches. The Islanders will counter presumed starter Anton Khudobin with one of Thomas Greiss or Robin Lehner. Greiss (who has been a mostly great backup option for half a decade or more) has had the better year so far, but Lehner has been quite good, too. Josh Bailey is scoring, Mat Barzal is really good, Brock Nelson is scoring a goal every other game, and the Islanders in general seem to have caught whatever the opposite of the Vegas Flu is, as nobody has bothered telling them they are supposed to be really bad so far this year. Hopefully the Stars can remind them what regression feels like before it catches up to them.