Two points keep the New York Islanders from the Metro lead, yet just one point is keeping them in the playoff picture.
The race for the Metropolitan division is full-speed ahead.
With the surprise New Jersey Devils making plenty of noise in their quest for renewed relevance, and the anticipated (albeit, not quite this bad) fall from grace the Washington Capitals, the NHL’s toughest division has some new faces in a neck-to-neck battle.
Only two points separate the New York Islanders from the top of the division, and meanwhile only one is keeping them in a playoff berth. Basically, it’s exactly the game-to-game contest the experts predicted it would be, and more.
While the New York Islanders and Pittsburgh Penguins are the only two teams who have yet to lose in regulation at home, their road record is less than stellar at 3-5-0. Scrounging three of the next four points would ensure they maintain pace in the playoff hunt.
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Welcome Back, Alan Quine
Nikolay Kulemin suffered an undisclosed Upper-Body Injury after an aggressive check from Eric Gryba during the Islanders contest against the Edmonton Oilers.
While it’s never good to see a player go down via injury, the season debut of Alan Quine should prove to be interesting, especially with the logjam the Islanders posses at forward. Quine managed to only pot 5 goals and 13 points last season.
Despite Quine’s past struggles, keep in mind he has yet to play under the Islanders’ new coaching staff. Not to mention the Islanders’ struggles in the faceoff dot, ranking 24th overall at 48.4%. Any help is welcome, and that’s one automatic upside that Quine will have likely centering Andrew Ladd and Anthony Beauvillier according to practice lines.
#Isles Lines at today's practice:
— New York Islanders (@NYIslanders) November 9, 2017
Along with Alan Quine, Shane Prince has begun making strides towards his recovery as well.
Shane Prince is practicing with the #Isles today.
— Cory Wright (@WrightsWay) November 6, 2017
Gearing Up for the Stars
The Dallas Stars have had a decent enough start at 8-7-0.
Going into the 2017-18 season, the Stars — like the Islanders — are looking to shelve the memory of 2016-17 and build off the success in 2015-16. The Stars won the Western Conference and lost to the St. Louis Blues in 7 games in round two of the post-season that year.
Signing Ben Bishop in the offseason was supposed to be the last piece of the puzzle, at least in theory. While Bishop has not played poorly, his .911 save percentage is far short of the potential he displayed when he was the Vezina-Trophy runner up in 2015-16 with a .926 save percentage.
Bishop enters the month of November win-less in two stars with back-to-back losses against the Winnipeg Jets, and he will make the start against the Islanders.
Offensively, it seems that Ken Hitchcock has some shake-ups in mind. The top line of Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin has been split, with Gemel Smith slotting in Alexander Radulov’s place. It seems the Stars are looking to space out the offense or shake things up after two losses.
Mark Methot will not be in the lineup as well.
The Islanders begin their weekend tonight at 8 p.m. on MSG+ with coverage starting at 7:30.