The New York Islanders travel to Detroit to take on the Red Wings tonight in the first of two games in two nights against top Eastern Conference competition.
After playing hero in a comeback 3-2 shootout win over the New Jersey Devils on Monday night, forward Josh Bailey spent the week skating on a line with John Tavares and Kyle Okposo.
“I’m not going to change anything,” Bailey said of the top-line tryout. “No matter who you’re playing with in this lineup, it’s a good situation. I’m excited for the opportunity and hopefully we can get two points.”
Bailey started the season with timely goals and high accolades from the coaching staff before missing nearly four weeks recovering from a hand injury. After dealing with bumps and bruises through November, Bailey hopes to stay healthy and steadily contribute.
“I’ve felt pretty good for the last handful of games,” he said. “It’s just trying to get back into a rhythm like at the start of the year. The last couple games felt like they were a good start.”
To make room for Bailey with Tavares and Okposo, forward Nikolay Kulemin rejoined Frans Nielsen and Mikhail Grabovski on a line. Grabovski has three points in his last four games, adding an offensive element to the line’s strong defensive presence.
“I just work hard and think about what is needed for the team," Grabovski said. “I have a great line. I work hard every game. I try to be around the puck a lot and that gives me a chance to find my game.”
The Red Wings enter the contest trying to rebound from going winless in their last four games, including three shootout defeats. Despite their recent slide, the Red Wings still remain tied for second place in the Atlantic Division with a 17-7-8 record. Islanders Head Coach Jack Capuano praised Detroit’s balanced lineup.
“[The Red Wings] have a lot of skilled guys on their team,” Capuano said. “The scoring is spread out with a lot of guys now that [Gustav] Nyquist and [Justin] Abdelkader are back. There’s a lot speed. With the new NHL and the way they move the puck, and the speed they have and you throw a mix of veterans in there with the guys that we’ve talked about, they’re going to be a tough team.”
Henrik Zetterberg leads the way for the Red Wings with 26 points (five goals, 21 assists) in 32 games and Nyquist, who enjoyed a breakout season last year with Detroit, leads the team with 14 goals. Goaltender Jimmy Howard ranks fifth in the entire NHL with a 2.05 goals against average. Islanders captain John Tavares said Red Wings players like Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk always pose a threat to break open games.
“I love the way [Datsyuk] does the little things so well,” Tavares said. “He’s tremendous at stripping guys with the puck. His strength with his stick is one of the strongest in the league. He’s an all-around player.”
The puck drops at the Joe at 7:30 p.m.
|New York Islanders |
21-10-0 (42 points – 2nd in Metropolitan Division, 3rd in Eastern Conference)
|Detroit Red Wings |
17-7-8 (42 points - T-2nd in Atlantic Division, 3rd in Eastern Conference)
|7:30 p.m. |
Joe Louis Arena
Play-by-play: Howie Rose; Color: Butch Goring
Radio: WRHU 88.7 FM, LI News Radio 103.9 FM
Play-by-play: Chris King
|Islanders News: |
- Isles TV: Consistency (Dec. 17)
- Grabner to IR, Reinhart Returned to BST (Dec. 17)
- Hitting the Scoresheet (Dec. 17)
|Islanders player to watch |
Matt Martin - Forward
Martin scored on Monday against the New Jersey Devils to force overtime, his second goal in four games and fourth goal of the season. Martin grew up in Windsor, Ontario just across the Detroit River. Martin leads the NHL in hits with 144 and will be called on to wear down the speedy Red Wings.
|Red Wings player to watch |
Tomas Tatar - Forward
Tomas Tatar’s 21 points (12 goals, nine assist) are third on the Red Wings, behind only Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk. Tatar’s 12 tallies are second on the Wings and the Slovakian forward has eight points (three goals, five assists) in his last nine games skating primarily on a line with Pavel Datsyuk.
|New York Islanders previous game lines |
12 Josh Bailey– 91 John Tavares – 21 Kyle Okposo
84 Mikhail Grabovski – 51 Frans Nielsen – 86 Nikolay Kulemin
27 Anders Lee – 29 Brock Nelson – 18 Ryan Strome
17 Matt Martin – 53 Casey Cizikas – 15 Cal Clutterbuck
2 Nick Leddy – 44 Calvin de Haan
8 Griffin Reinhart – 46 Matt Donovan
11 Lubomir Visnovsky – 14 Thomas Hickey
41 Jaroslav Halak
30 Chad Johnson
|Detroit Red Wings previous game lines |
14 Gustav Nyquist - 40 Henrik Zetterberg - 8 Justin Abdelkader
21 Tomas Tatar - 13 Pavel Datsyuk - 43 Darren Helm
93 Johan Franzen - 15 Riley Sheahan - 26 Tomas Jurco
20 Drew Miller - 41 Luke Glendening - 18 Joakim Andersson
52 Jonathan Ericsson - 55 Niklas Kronwall
27 Kyle Quincey - 65 Dan DeKeyser
2 Brendan Smith - 61 Xavier Ouellet
35 Jimmy Howard
34 Petr Mrazek