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Flames-Islanders Preview @NHLdotcom
Flames-Islanders Preview

GAME: Calgary Flames (25-13-5) at New York Islanders (18-22-2).

TIME: Thursday, 7 p.m. EST.

The New York Islanders will have yet another new coach behind their bench. Any more such changes will be made by a new general manager.

On the day Mike Milbury announced his reign as GM will be soon be over, Brad Shaw takes over as coach for the fired Steve Stirling when the struggling Islanders host the Calgary Flames.

Milbury made his eighth coaching change in nine years Wednesday, dismissing Stirling after the Islanders lost 2-1 at Nashville for their eighth defeat in nine games.

On Thursday, the team said Shaw, a first-year assistant for New York, would take over as coach. The more surprising announcement was Milbury saying he would relinquish his role as GM once he and team owner Charles Wang found a replacement.

"Charles will make that decision, I will help him with that," said Milbury, who will become a vice president for Wang's sports properties.

Milbury, who served as Isles coach twice during his tenure, has revamped the roster several times but has never won a playoff series since he's been in charge.

Stirling led the Islanders to a 38-29-11-4 record and the playoffs during the 2003-04 season, his first as New York coach, but the team was seven points out of a playoff spot midway through this season.

"All the coaches and players are disappointed about Steve because they like him," Milbury said. "He worked hard at it, but it just wasn't happening."

Milbury made another roster move earlier Wednesday by trading defenseman Janne Niinimaa and a fifth-round pick in the 2007 draft to the Dallas Stars for defenseman John Erskine and a second-round pick in the 2006 draft.

The Islanders have scored just two goals in their last three games, and have scored more than three goals only once in their last nine.

Additionally, New York's power play has been terrible in the previous nine games, going 5-for-33 in that span.

"If you win, you keep your job. If you don't win, you could lose it or you do lose it," Stirling said Wednesday after what turned out to be his final practice. "I didn't make the rules, Mike didn't make the rules."

The Flames hope to take advantage of the Islanders' disarray to avoid a third consecutive loss.

Calgary fell 4-2 to the New York Rangers on Tuesday, the second straight game it has lost after building a two-goal lead.

"We've been getting up and maybe we sit back a bit," Flames captain Jarome Iginla said. "Maybe we play too safe and we stop making plays."

Rookie Dion Phaneuf and defenseman Rhett Warrener scored 38 seconds apart in the first period for Calgary. Phaneuf has scored twice in the last two games and is tied for sixth among NHL rookies with 11 goals.

Daymond Langkow has scored only two goals in the last nine games, but has a seven-game point streak against the Islanders, with three goals and five assists during that span.

The Flames have dominated the Islanders in recent years, winning six straight at the Nassau Coliseum since a 3-1 loss on Dec. 3, 1996. They have won 10 of the last 11 meetings overall.

STANDINGS: Flames - 55 points, 1st place, Northwest Division. Islanders - 38 points, 4th place, 24 PB, Atlantic Division.

TEAM LEADERS: Flames - Iginla, 17 goals and 33 points; Andrew Ference, 18 assists; Darren McCarty, 69 PIM. Islanders - Jason Blake, 17 goals; Alexei Yashin, 23 assists and 38 points; Arron Asham, 80 PIM.

SPECIAL TEAMS: Flames - Power play: 17 percent (44 for 258), 18th in NHL. Penalty killing: 81.6 percent (218 for 267), 18th. Islanders - Power play: 17.4 percent (44 for 253), 17th. Penalty killing: 80.6 percent (225 for 279), 22nd.

GOALTENDERS: Flames - Miikka Kiprusoff (22-11-5, 6 SO, 2.33 GAA); Philippe Sauve (3-2-0, 2.62). Islanders - Wade Dubielewicz (1-3-0, 2.65); Frederic Cloutier (no appearances).

2003-04 SEASON SERIES: Flames, 1-0.

LAST MEETING: Jan. 6, 2004; Flames, 3-2. At Uniondale, N.Y., Iginla had two goals and an assist, and Jamie McLennan made 31 saves for Calgary.

ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Flames - 9-9-3 on the road; Islanders - 9-10-1 at home.

Associated Press
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