The New York Islanders come to Denver tonight to pay our Avs their annual visit. Many of us expected the Avs to be coming into this game in the Isles position (near the top of their conference) and history suggested they would be in the Avs position (near the bottom of their conference).
The Isles have come out of the gates this year firing on all cylinders and scoring at a ridiculous rate and playing extremely high event hockey. They're very entertaining to watch, averaging 3.78 goals per game (2nd in the NHL) and their star players are driving their success as superstar John Tavares is tied for first on the team with 12 points (4g, 8a) in 9 games played. The guy he's tied with? 3rd liner Brock Nelson, who has gotten to his 12 points by tossing 6 assists in to go with 6 goals on 17 shots. That 35.3 shooting percentage is...likely to go down a bit but for right now, he's the hottest of a whole bunch of hot hands.
Defensively, old friend Johnny Boychuk has 8 points in 9 games, 7 of which have come on the PP. If the Avs are going to put themselves in the best position to win the game, they will keep the 4th rated Islanders PP off the ice completely. They've scored 9 goals in 35 opportunities, so, let's not screw around with that...even if our PK is currently rated 4th. Screwing around with a team that can ice the kind of talent the Isles can is how a PK goes from 4th to 9th in a single game. Don't do it, Avs.
Because I think I know them, the Islanders will be rolling out lines that look soooomething like this (always subject to change based on injuries/game time decisions):
Tavares - Conacher - Okposo
Kulemin - Nielsen - Grabovski
Nelson - Strome -Lee
Martin - Cizikas - Clutterbuck
Leddy - Boychuk
Strait - de Haan
Visnovsky - Hickey
Of that defensive group, the guy you really want to attack is Strait. He's their Brad Stuart. Or Jan Hejda. Or whatever. Just pick one of our bad defensemen and he's their equivalent.
Style wise, as I mentioned above, the Islanders play very up-tempo hockey and get up and down the ice with the best of them. With the Avs offense still riding the strugglebus, this is the kind of team they could really open it up against because they should find plenty of opportunities at attack and counter-attack the Isles. While Garth Snow did yeoman's work in the off-season fixing up his roster for a playoff run, the goaltending thus far has remained a bit of a letdown as both Chad Johnson and
likely starter Jaroslav Halak both sit under the .900 save percentage mark and over the 3 goals against average. Should the Avs win tonight, they likely continue the trend of lackluster Isles goaltending performances. Both guys are always a threat to shut you down out of nowhere, though, so this could the most unexpected 2-1 game of the season.
Onto the Avs!
Not entirely sure what the lines will be tonight because the team just recalled Dennis Everberg and Jesse Winchester should be about ready to go, causing some uncertainty. Also, the Avs rocked the house the other day when they mixed up their top 6 so let's just go with those lines and watch Roy make an ass out of me later on.
O'Reilly - Duchene - Landeskog
McGinn - MacKinnon - Iginla
Tanguay - Mitchell -Everberg
Hejda - Johnson
Redmond Guenin- Barrie
Stuart - Holden
- The Avalanche and Islanders are both subpar face-off teams thus far, with the Islanders 24th at 48.1% and the Avs 25th at 47.3%.
- The Islanders are tied for 2nd in the NHL with 23 even strength goals.
- The Islanders lead the NHL in goals given up in the 2nd period with 15.
- The Avalanche have a chance to get healthy on the PP as the Isles PK is 29th at 67.7%, having given up 10 goals on 31 attempts.
New York Islanders - 6-3-0 12 pts 3-1-0 on the road
Colorado Avalanche - 2-4-4 8 pts 1-1-2 at home
Thursday October 30th, 7:00 PM MT
Pepsi Center Denver, Colorado
For Islanders coverage, visit the awesome guys over at Lighthouse Hockey.