Tonight the Islanders and Flames meet for the first time since Dec. 29, 2011, when the Isles beat the Flames 3-1 at Nassau Coliseum. The Islanders are 5-1-0 in their last six against Calgary, but the Flames have overhauled their roster over the past two years and familiar faces such as Jarome Iginla and Miikka Kiprusoff have since departed.
Despite sitting near the bottom of the stacked Pacific Division, the Flames have played well as of late. Prior to Tuesday’s 2-0 shutout loss in Montreal, Calgary had won five in a row, including wins over Chicago, San Jose and Minnesota.
What the Flames roster lacks in star power, it more than makes up for in work ethic and grit. President of Hockey Operations Brian Burke’s signature is all over the Calgary roster, with heavyweights (such as the 6’4”, 235 lbs. duo of Kevin Westgarth and Brian McGrattan) sprinkled throughout the lineup. Expect a tight-checking, hard-hitting game from the prairie boys.
Ahead of tonight’s game, the Islanders held an optional morning skate at Nassau Coliseum. Here are some news, notes and quotes from today’s skate. The Islanders held an optional morning skate at Nassau Coliseum. Lineup Notes/Changes: Nabokov Starts:
Evgeni Nabokov will make his fourth straight start tonight against the Flames. Nabokov is coming off a 22-save shutout over the Capitals on Tuesday.
Evgeni Nabokov will start for the Islanders tonight against the Flames.
Vs. the Flames:
The Islanders are 5-1-0 in their last six against the Flames and have won the last three meetings at the Coliseum.
Travis Hamonic continued to skate with the team, but will not dress for tonight’s game. Head coach Jack Capuano said he was a possibility for Saturday. Travis Hamonic will not dress tonight, but could be in the lineup on Saturday. Penalty Kill:
The Islanders penalty kill has been perfect over the last five games, killing 14 straight penalties in that span, including six against the Washington Capitals Tuesday night. The Islanders have killed 23-of-25 penalties over a nine-game span. Home Comes to Hickey:
Calgary native Thomas Hickey will play his hometown team for the first time tonight. Hickey said he wasn’t sure what the most exciting part would be, but said the familiarity of the jersey and the team makes this a special game for him. He also welcomed the chance to talk to the Calgary media and catch up on life back home. Hickey:
[Calgary’s] a really big town but it’s actually a small town especially in the hockey community. I recognize a lot of those people and I follow how they’re doing. I think they sort of do the same when they know people are from Calgary. Matt Carkner takes a shot during the Islanders morning skate at Nassau Coliseum. From the Coach:
They obviously have a back end that transitions real well with Wideman, Brodie, Russell and Giordano they get up in the play and we will see that tonight…So I wouldn’t particularly say it’s just one guy they’ve got like every other system they want that fourth man attacking and they’ll have that tonight.Hot Flames:
Flames captain Mark Giordano had his nine-game point streak (4g/6a) snapped Tuesday in Montreal, but is still one of the hottest Flames on the ice. The offensive-minded defenseman has nine goals and 19 assists in 38 games this season and should surpass his career-high of 11 goals, should he stay healthy the rest of the way. Giordano is also responsible in his own end, with a team-high plus-three rating this season. The Flames held a morning skate at Nassau Coliseum. Top Scorer:
Jiri Hudler leads the Flames with 42 points (18g/24a) in 56 games this season. The Czech forward needs 15 points in the final 26 games of the season to match his career-high (57), set in the 2008-09 season. Berra Starts:
Reto Berra will start for the Flames tonight. Berra is 7-15-2 this season with a 3.11 GAA and a .894 SV%.