The New York Islanders begin addressing their special teams struggles and get reinforcements back in time for their reunion with Jaroslav Halak and the Boston Bruins.
- New York Islanders (12-9-2, 26 points)
- Boston Bruins (13-7-4, 30 points)
- 7 p.m. EST, MSG+, WRHU 88.7 FM
- TD Garden, Boston, MA
The Islanders power play failed them in their 4-1 loss to the Capitals earlier this week. Naturally, Barry Trotz made sure the team spent ample time improving it.
Heading into Thursday’s tilt against the Bruins, the Islanders will have not scored a power-play goal in five straight games. That’s two Calendar weeks.
Their 0-of-4 power-play performance against the Washington Capitals was not only depressing both on paper and on ice, it’s the reason they dropped that game.
Trotz told reporters Monday night the Isles recent stretch wore down his players:
“…This was four games in six nights for us…and there’s still some travel involved for us no matter what you say. And I didn’t feel we had as much juice as we did in Carolina and the other games.”
Fortunately for the Islanders, the last couple days of practice gives them some grounding and time to clear their heads. True to his word, Trotz had the Islanders put work in on improving the special teams.
Unfortunately for the fans, this doesn’t include shuffling the lines themselves. Everything remains status quo, for now.
The Islanders penalty kill will get a surge with Casey Cizikas coming off of IR and practicing alongside his usual partners in Matt Martin and Cal Clutterbuck. Sitting at 18th overall at 78.9 percent, the PK has allowed goals in back-to-back games after a perfect 3-for-3 performance against the New Jersey Devils. Cizikas’ return brings stability to the top PK unit and to the Isles bottom six after a nearly three-week absence.
The Isles returned Tanner Fritz to Bridgeport to accommodate Cizikas’ roster spot.
Trotz on Cizikas: “He brings a lot of the intangibles. He drives a lot of things you do day in and day out from energy to practice. He’s a good penalty killer, he can play against anybody, his motor is running all the time. You need that on a team. We’re glad to have him back.” pic.twitter.com/O4SSqDDBSJ
— New York Islanders (@NYIslanders) November 28, 2018
Like the Islanders, the Bruins suffered a loss on Monday to John Tavares‘ Toronto Maple Leafs. Boston has also had equal time off heading into Thursday’s contest.
Over the last four games, both Jaroslav Halak and Tuukka Rask have split starts. However, given Rask’s history of poor performances against the Isles, it’s likely Halak makes his first career start against the blue and orange since leaving the Island.
From the beginning of the season, Halak has emerged as a contender for Rask’s starting role as well as an early candidate for the Vezina Trophy. Halak has lingered in the NHL’s top five in both goals-against average (third, 2.06) and save percentage (second, .936).
Though puck drop is scheduled for 7 p.m. tonight in Beantown, Mark Herrmann of Newsday pointed out that Rick Middleton’s number retirement ceremony will take place during pregame. That means fans can expect a start time of about 8:08 p.m.