The Islanders play the Stars for the first time since the 2011-12 season, where the teams split their season series 1-1-0. It’s been over two years since the Isles and Stars hooked up and Dallas sports a new look, both on their jerseys and their roster.
The biggest change comes up front, as the Stars traded Loui Eriksson for Tyler Seguin in the offseason, as part of a seven-player deal. Seguin, the number two pick in the 2010 draft, is thriving in Texas, as he’s scoring over a point-per-game and is on pace for a career year. Ray Whitney and Shawn Horcoff were also added to this roster, as GM Jim Nill is putting his stamp on the team.
As a result, the Stars are 20-14-7 (47 points), but in an ultra-competitive Western conference, they are on the outside looking in. As crucial as this game is for the Islanders are to get back into the playoff picture, it’s equally as important for the Stars.
Ahead of tonight’s game, the Islanders took morning skate at Nassau Coliseum. Here are some news, notes and quotes from this morning’s skate. Lineup Notes/Changes:
Josh Bailey and Matt Donovan are both in the lineup tonight for the Islanders. Kyle Okposo is a game-time decision due to the impending birth of his first child. Evgeni Nabokov will start in goal for the Islanders. Bailey:
Josh Bailey makes his return to the lineup after missing four games with an upper-body injury. Capuano (on Bailey):
I need to see the work ethic, the grit and determination in his game. I need to see a guy that’ll get more pucks to the net. He’s a minute-cruncher for us. We expect all our guys to play well defensively away from the puck, but he has to be a guy who gets pucks to the net, no question. Nabokov:
Evgeni Nabokov gets the start tonight, with Capuano hinting at a Poulin start in Toronto. Nabokov is 4-3-2 with a 2.21 GAA since returning from injury on Dec. 10. Vanek:
Thomas Vanek is riding a career-best eight-game point streak. Vanek has five goals and seven assists on his current streak. The eight games match a career best set last night.MacDonald:
Andrew MacDonald has six assists on a four-game point streak. Tavares:
John Tavares has four goals and three assists on a four-game point streak.