The pregame skate, like it usually is, was optional in nature, so most players - but not all - were on the ice this morning inside Honda Center. Jonathan Bernier wasn't on the ice, a strong indication that he'll be in net tonight. Bernier has won three consecutive starts, including a 27-save effort in Anaheim's 3-2 victory over the New Jersey Devils last Thursday.
After the skate, Ducks head coach Randy Carlyle confirmed the two players who will not be in the lineup: Joseph Cramarossa and Clayton Stoner. Both players are currently dealing with lower-body injuries. Cramarossa was injured in the game against New Jersey and Stoner last played on November 15 vs. Edmonton. Replacing Stoner could be one of Korbinian Holzer or Shea Theodore.
We'll see if Carlyle opts to go with Rickard Rakell on the third line with Antoine Vermette and Ondrej Kase at the start, or if he decides to use the Swede on the top line with Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry. If that's the case, then you'll likely see Nick Ritchie skating with Vermette and Kase - a move Carlyle has used quite often.
Reports from the Islanders pregame skate suggest Thomas Greiss getting the start in net. JF Berube will serve as the backup. Head coach Jack Capuano also confirmed the top line, which will be composed of Anthony Beauvillier, captain John Tavares and Josh Bailey.
The Islanders come into tonight's game with just one win over their past eight games (1-3-4) and have gone winless in their past four (0-2-2), but that means little in today's NHL. If the Ducks come out with a lackluster start, like they did against the Devils and Kings, this one could turn sideways in a hurry.
"If we're not prepared to play at a high level, we're going to be in for a long night," said Carlyle. "We have to be prepared and respect what they're going to bring. The last time we were in Brooklyn, they beat us. This is a team that can skate. They've mixed up their groupings and tried to spread out their offense. Their backend is very mobile."
Andrew Cogliano, Ryan Kesler and Jakob Silfverberg will no doubt be tasked with the responsibility of shutting down Tavares' line. Tavares leads the Islanders in scoring with 13 points (5g/8a) in 17 games and scored his first goal of the season in the club's 3-2 OT victory over the Ducks at Barclays Center on October 16. The 26-year-old, who is in his fourth season as team captain, also has the unique ability of taking control of a game.
"He's a special player who works hard and creates a lot on the ice," said Cogliano. "He works for everything he gets."
The Ducks might've been taken aback by the Islanders' speed the first time around, which includes a fleet-footed, puck-moving blueline that has the ability to ship the mail out of the zone in a hurry.
"We saw how fast they are and how strong they move the puck," said Cogliano. "In terms of skating, you might not find a team that's better than them. They haven't played well over the course of the year, but they have a lot of good parts."
Waiting for His Chance
Theodore has become familiar with the route that takes one from San Diego to Anaheim and back. Theodore has been recalled (and reassigned) a handful of times already in 2016-17, and has earned one assist in six games with the Ducks this season, and seven assists in eight games with the San Diego Gulls.
After a so-so stint with Anaheim, Theodore went back to San Diego playing top-pairing minutes and regaining confidence being the go-to guy with the Gulls. He's back in Anaheim for the time being, and when his time comes, the 21-year-old says he'll be ready.
"I just feel more confident in myself," Theodore said. "I just got back to playing 20-25 minutes a night in all situations [with San Diego]. When you do that, your confidence grows and you're more comfortable. I was good down there, and it's really nice to be back up here."
Theodore could provide a boost to the blueline on special teams, an area in which the Ducks struggled mightily on Sunday night when they converted on just one of seven opportunities.
"We know he can run the power play and make plays from the top," said Carlyle. "If we don't use him in those situations, we don't do the player justice. But with most young players when they come into your lineup, the trust factor has to be something that's earned. It's not given. He has to be out there earning the trust of the coaching staff to put him in more situations than he's probably been in previously."
Potential Line Combinations
New York Islanders
Video: Ducks preview for matchup with the New York Islanders