The Islanders ended 2013 with a bang and look to carry that momentum into the New Year. However, there’s no break in the schedule for the Islanders, who host the Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks two nights after playing the reigning Eastern conference champion Boston Bruins.
The Blackhawks are the most offensively potent team in the NHL, having scored a league-leading 154 goals through 42 games (3.67 per game). They are led by the dynamic duo of Patrick Kane and Jonathan, both of whom are near the top the NHL’s scoring lead. The Islanders counter with John Tavares and Kyle Okposo, who combined for seven points in Tuesday’s 5-3 comeback win. The Islanders have also scored 10 goals in their last two games, setting the stage for some run-and-gun hockey tonight at Nassau Coliseum.
Ahead of tonight’s tilt, the Islanders took morning skate at 1255 Hempstead Turnpike. Here are some news, notes and quotes from today’s skate. Weather Advisory:
Tonight’s game will be played, as scheduled, at 7 p.m.Lineup Notes:
Jack Capuano is going with the same lineup from Tuesday’s win in Boston. Evgeni Nabokov will start in goal, while Josh Bailey (day-to-day, upper body), Radek Martinek (back spasms) and Eric Boulton (healthy scratch) are out. Okposo:
Kyle Okposo continues to produce at a torrid rate, posting 11 points (5g/6a) on a current seven-game point streak. The second-leading American scorer this season (40 points in 41 games) was left off of Team USA for the Sochi Olympics and expressed his disappointment during a media scrum. Okposo:
I just want to play my game and keep moving forward. They picked the best team in their opinion to get the gold and I’m disappointed that I’m not part of it… I’m going to keep going and working on my game. I will watch the games, I have a lot of friends over there on all teams.Via Twitter: Capuano:
He’s worked extremely hard this season. He always pays the price in the summer to get himself in tremendous shape. He’s a high-character guy, he’s a leader and I’m sure it was disappointing to hear the news, but knowing the way he is, he’ll continue to battle hard. Vanek:
Thomas Vanek is riding a six-game point streak (3g/6a). Bailey Out:
Josh Bailey will miss his third consecutive game after sustaining an upper-body injury. Bailey was on the ice for the morning skate, but Capuano said he was going through the team’s protocol and is still day-to-day. From the Coach:
This is a very unique hockey club they have. They have a lot of guys who will be going to Sochi and we are going to have to skate and be prepared to take away time and space from a lot of their skill guys and simplify the game as much as we can.