New York Islanders (30-22-10) 70 Pts @ Chicago Blackhawks (40-18-5) 85pts
When: March 3rd, 2107
Where: United Center, Chicago, IL
Time: 8:30 PM EST
TV: MSG+ (Brendan Burke, Butch Goring)
Radio: 970 AM, WRHU 88.7 FM, and WRCN 103.9 FM (Chris King, Greg Picker)
After an exhausting, yet satisfying come from behind victory last night in Dallas, the Isles are back in action tonight, as they take on the scorching hot Blackhawks. The boys from Chicago are 10-1-0 in their last 11 games. However, they will be without five players this evening. Defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson and new acquisition, defenseman Johnny Oduya won’t play for sure. Artem Anisimov participated in the morning skate but won’t play. Forward Nick Schmaltz (illness) didn’t skate and also is likely out.
The news for the Islanders is the complete opposite. After missing almost two months, Travis Hamonic is likely to be penciled back into the lineup, as a key part of the Isles’ defense. After missing a large chunk of the last month, Cal Clutterbuck returned last night. He played a full game, and did not have to leave with any signs of injury, which is great news for the team’s fourth line. Shane Prince also returned to the Isles’ lineup, and did not miss a beat. The only one missing from last night’s lineup was Anthony Beauvillier, who was out with an illness.
An exciting new addition to the team was the energetic Josh Ho-Sang, who made his NHL debut last night. Although he did not register a point, he was all over the ice. He had two shots on goal, and did not look out of place at all.
The Isles will face a tough test in the Blackhawks tonight. Chicago has won five straight, and is fourth overall in the NHL in points. Interestingly enough, the Islanders have only four more regulation losses than the Hawks. What killed the Islanders, is the five additional losses they have in overtime and the shootout. The Hawks come in having won four straight, including five in a row over the Isles on home ice. In fact, Chicago is 8-1-1 in their last 10 against New York dating back to Jan 9, 2011.
Leading the way for the Blackhawks is Patrick Kane, who else? He is second in the league in points, with 68, and leads the NHL with 19 points since February 1st.
It will likely be Jean-Francois Berube in net for the Isles. Although, he is not the number one netminder, the Isles cannot overwork Thomas Greiss, so Berube is going to have start some of these games. No better time than the present, however, Chicago has been averaging an insane 4.8 goals per game over their last five. So Berube may have his hands full tonight.
For the Isles, John Tavares is still streaking, having scored 17 points in his last 17 games. Ryan Strome has 14 points (6G, 8A) in his last 14 games. Anders Lee has 13 points (6G, 7A) in his last 14 games including four multi-point games. Andrew Ladd has 12 points (10G, 2A) in his last 16 games.
The Isles last won in Chicago in 2009. However, the team has managed to go 13-5-2 under Coach Doug Weight, so whatever happened in the past, may just be that…the past.