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Game 44 Preview: Islanders at Avalanche

Vs_medium Matchavalanche_medium
New York Islanders
7 MT / 9 ET / 2 GMT
Colorado Avalanche
17-18-8 January 5th, 2010
42 pts Pepsi Center
54 pts
11th in East
Denver, CO
5th in West


June 26th, Montreal, Quebec. The 2009 NHL Entry draft. Most predictions have defenseman Victor Hedman going to the Lightning at #2, but where John Tavares and Matt Duchene landed was still very much up in the air. In fact, multiple rumors that day had Duchene going to the Islanders (the fake John Tavares twitter feed making the same claims didn't help). In the end, Isles took Tavares as expected. Duchene - who was caught on camera celebrating when he wasn't  taken first overall - would indeed end up getting drafted by his favorite team growing up.

Fast forward a few months, and Tavares (28 points) and Duchene (27 points) are neck and neck in the rookie scoring race (along with Nic Bergfors of the Devils. I think it's safe to say that both teams are very happy with their selection. Tavares has slowed lately (1 point in his last 11 games) after a hot start (10 points in his first 13 games). Duchene's season has been almost the opposite, and he was just named Rookie of the Month for December. (Coincidentally, iTunes just randomly served up Velvet Revolver's "Do it for the Kids")

But this is not just about Duchene and Tavares. The Avalanche have a number of excellent young players and the Islanders are in a similar situation. Of the Isles' top 10 scorers, only 3 are over 26 (Mark Streit, Richard Park and Tim Hunter). While the youth movement should lay the foundation for both teams for years, it isn't paying dividends for the Islanders in the scoring department yet. They are currently 29th in the league with a 2.44 goals-per-game average. They were 29th in scoring last year as well and 30th the year before that.

They'll have to beat Craig Anderson if they want to change that trend tonight. Anderson will get the nod for his 1,503rd consecutive start (which might be a record). When Joe Sacco was asked after practice if he had given any consideration to starting Peter Budaj instead, Sacco, with a puzzled look on his face, responded with "who?"