The Maple Leafs lost last night, but look to bounce back against an Isles team that is worst in the league at home. (Photo: jbcurio/flickr)
The Islanders fell to 2-8 at home this season, with a 4-1 loss to the Bruins Tuesday night. They look to reverse their fortunes Thursday night against the Maple Leafs.
Storyline: Fort Neverlose has become Fort When-The-Heck-Are-We-Gonna-Win, as stated above. The Islanders have fallen fast from the Atlantic Division’s good graces based largely on this statistic, and seeing as the majority of their games have been on home ice this month, this doesn’t bode well for any small playoff hopes remaining.
Islanders: They lost a game they needed against Carolina once again and fell predictably to the perennial powerhouse that is Boston. Now, the Isles need to step up against a team they handled fairly well in their only other meeting on Jan. 24, a 7-4 win. Unlike last month’s win, however, they need to get the two points without having to storm back from a two-goal deficit. They also need to figure out how to get things going 5-on-5.
The Isles’ bench has made some adjustments for this game, as per Arthur Staple’s tweets – David Ullstrom comes out, Eric Boulton is in, and they’ve pushed Cizikas and Colin McDonald up to the third line with Michael Grabner. Joe Finley also replaces Radek Martinek on the blueline. Surely these changes reflect the presence of a certain #28 on the Maple Leafs’ roster, which… okay, make of that what you will, but it won’t change the fact that Boulton will get only his customary four minutes of TOI.
Evgeni Nabokov once again gets the start for the Islanders.
Maple Leafs: Toronto’s 6-4 in its last 10, but has dropped two of its last three, including a 5-2 loss Wednesday night to Montreal after which Randy Carlyle lamented his team’s “flat” play. This game marks the second of a back-to-back, which could well be to the Isles’ advantage.
Nazem Kadri has been on a hot streak so far — he leads the Leafs in points with 18 in 21 games, and has a three-game point streak, with five assists in that span. Phil Kessel is close behind with 16, and James van Riemsdyk has scored eleven goals to date. In goal, James Reimer is rumored to be the starter; if confirmed, it’ll be his first game since going down with a knee injury over two weeks ago.
Injury Report: The Isles are without Brian Strait (ankle) and Jesse Joensuu (hernia), as well as Matt Carkner (groin). The Leafs are without Joffrey Lupul (arm).
Puck Drop: 7 p.m., MSG+, SNET-O.