Tuesday, November 15, 2011

NYI vs. NYR Game Preview: In a New York Minute, Islanders Can Turn the Page

The struggling Islanders will look to snap out of this slump tonight with a win over their arch-rivals, the New York Rangers, at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum. 

In what's probably the biggest story of tonight's contest, Nino Niederreiter will be making his season debut for the Isles. The 2010 fifth-overall pick had been nursing a groin injury he suffered during training camp.

He's been recalled from the Bridgeport Sound Tigers (AHL), where he amassed four points (three goals, one assist) over a six-game conditioning stint. 

Coach Jack Capuano would not reveal any information about what the lines might look like tonight or who'd be scratched. My gut tells me that Blake Comeau will be the casualty here (he's the most deserving of all the forwards), and that there won't be any radical changes to the forward combinations. Perhaps we'll see Nino on the second line with Frans Nielsen and P.A. Parenteau (yes, that's my guess). 

Evgeni Nabokov gets the nod between the pipes, and it's expected that Al Montoya will back him up. 

As my buddy Matt Calamia likes to say, the Rangers generally bring the best out of the Islanders. Perhaps that's exactly what they need, and maybe, just maybe, the Isles can pull off the win and generate some much-needed momentum to help them return to relevancy. 

Players to Watch

Nino Niederreiter

Season debut for the Isles' 2010 first-round pick. His size will be a welcome upgrade for a team that lacks it and hopefully he can help kickstart the offense. Chemistry will be key, might be a slower start than people expect. Take that into account regarding your expectations for Nino. But, by all means, be excited. He's been missed, and you'll see why tonight.

John Tavares

The Rangers seem to bring out the best in John, and that's a good thing, because when JT's on fire, the Isles usually have a solid chance of winning. Would I expect a hat trick again? Not necessarily, but nor would I rule one out. Tavares should have a strong game, as should his line-mates (which may or may not include Niederreiter).

Evgeni Nabokov

Amidst all the trade rumors and speculation, Nabokov insisted he's committed to the Islanders for "as long as they need me here." Nabby was the only reason the Isles were even in that game against Vancouver, and he's being rewarded for his 34-save performance with a rarity in NYI's three-goalie-rotation: A second-consecutive start. He's also beaten the Rangers this season, so perhaps that factored in as well. Look for him to keep the Islanders in it tonight, but as was the case in Pittsburgh and against the Canucks, he won't be able to do it alone. Offense and defense have to step up.

Comments are welcome.


IslesPassion21 said...

I am a fan of KO but for me it is HE who should be scratched...Not only for KO but to send a message to the whole team...Comeau being benched send no message at all...He is always the goat

Daniel Friedman said...

I hear ya, I just think they could at least benefit from KO's size and strength, which they otherwise lack. Comeau doesn't bring much of anything to the table.

IslesPassion21 said...

Comeau and his line has a good game, actually...I guess Cappy agreed w me that KO needed a wake up call....

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