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Preview: Islanders vs. Oilers

by Cory Wright / New York Islanders

NEW YORK ISLANDERS (26-18-6) VS. EDMONTON OILERS  (21-27-5)

2:30 P.M. BARCLAYS CENTER, MSG+WNYE 91.5 FM, WRHU 88.7 FM, LI NEWS 103.9 FM

FIVE THINGS:

1. TAVARES SCORING


John Tavares scored the Islanders’ lone goal on Saturday afternoon, burying a one-timer on a third period power play. That was the Islanders captain’s 18th of the season and third in his last five games, as he appears to be settling into a scoring rhythm. Tavares has six points (3G, 3A) in his last five games and has only been held off the scoresheet twice in his last eight games. Tavares’ skills were on display at last weekend’s All-Star Weekend, when he won the accuracy shooting competition, hitting four targets on five shots in 12.294 seconds.  

2. WHO'S IN GOAL:

Jack Capuano tends to split his goalies in back-to-back situations, so Jaroslav Halak – who started Saturday in Detroit – is unlikely to start against Edmonton. With three goalies on the roster, the question becomes will Thomas Greiss get the start of Jean-Francois Berube. Berube earned his first NHL win on Tuesday against the Minnesota Wild and relieved Halak in the second half of Saturday’s loss, but Greiss has been solid for the Islanders this season. Greiss is 13-6-2 with a 2.32 goals-against average and a .927 save percentage. 

3. BOYCHUK IS BACK:

Johnny Boychuk returned to the Islanders’ lineup on Saturday after missing 11 games with an upper-body injury. Boychuk skated 16:52 TOI, registering three hits, a shot and two penalty minutes playing in a pair with Nick Leddy.

“I felt good,” Boychuk said. “On the first couple of shifts you want to keep it short and get your feet underneath you. Overall I felt good.”

4. CONNOR MCDAVID:

The first-overall pick in June’s draft, Connor McDavid has captivated the NHL in his first season. Although McDavid missed three months with a collarbone injury, he’s scoring over a point-per-game when healthy. McDavid has blazing speed, with an ability to rush end-to-end and finish. He scored a whopping 285 points in 166 games in the Ontario Hockey League and was the third player to be granted “exceptional player” status by the OHL, colloquially known as the John Tavares Rule. 

READ: HYPE TRAIN - TAVARES TO MCDAVID

5. DRAISAITL AND HALL:

The Edmonton Oilers have stocked up on young talent over the past six years, with four first-overall picks since 2010. Taylor Hall – the first-overall pick in 2010 – leads the team with 50 points (18G, 32A) in 52 games this season. The 24-year-old winger had a seven-game point streak (2G, 7A) snapped on Saturday afternoon in Montreal.

But while Hall, McDavid and fellow first-overall picks Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Nail Yakupov headline the Oilers young talent, Edmonton is getting a key contribution from another high pick, Leon Draisaitl. Draisaitl, the third-overall pick in 2014, started the season with AHL Bakersfield, but caught fire when called up to the Oilers, scoring 17 points in his first 10 games. On the season the 20-year-old, German-born center has 40 points (14G, 26A) in 42 games. Draisaitl took a longer route to the NHL than the aforementioned prospects, but the extra seasoning appears to have benefitted him and the Oilers.

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