Preview: New York Islanders (2-2-1) @ Los Angeles Kings (3-0-1)
Game Time: 7:30 pm, FS-W
The Islanders picked up their first road win this season, putting up three goals against the Sharks (who seem to be struggling to find any early season momentum of their own). Anders Lee, Brock Nelson, and Cal Clutterbuck all scored for the Islanders, and the team put up 40 shots in San Jose. The team isn’t in all that different of a situation than they were last season -- they opened up the season with two wins and three losses, and a lot of existential angst over where they were headed as a franchise. The Islanders’ mediocre start last year put former coach Jack Capuano on the hot seat, and there’s talk that if things don’t turn around, new coach Doug Weight could wind up there, too.
On the Islanders, everyone talks about John Tavares, and he’s certainly a player to watch, but I’m excited to see what Josh Ho-Sang can do. He’s been a thrill to watch throughout juniors and his time in the AHL, and he’s always been a fun, creative player. Just the kind of guy a team like the Islanders needs to help build excitement for the seasons to come.
On defense, the top pairing of Nick Leddy and Johnny Boychuk are always dangerous, although the blue line gets a little shaky after that, especially after the departure of Travis Hamonic in the offseason. Leddy’s a master at smooth skating and clean zone entries, so disrupting his momentum will be key to keeping the Islanders from being able to truly set up in the offensive zone.
After an impressive performance from Thomas Greiss in San Jose, Jaroslav Halak gets the nod tonight. At least the Islanders aren’t trying to keep three goalies on their roster this year, having let JF Berube go in the expansion draft. Greiss and Halak may wind up as more of a 1A/1B situation in net rather than anyone outright winning the starter’s role. They’re both adequate goalies and more than capable of stealing a game (as the Kings have most certainly learned in the past).
For the Kings, there probably won’t be any lineup changes. It’s possible that Mike Cammalleri could get back in -- earlier today, fellow JFTCer Carlos suggested substituting Cammalleri for Andreoff on that fourth line, and that’s a change that could make a lot of sense. Cammalleri hasn’t found the back of the net yet in this stint as a King, but he almost certainly has to have more offensive upside than Andreoff does. And while goals from Shore and Lewis are usually more of the dirty, ping-ponging in off of someone’s back type, they’ve at least got the hands to make good passes, that maybe Cammalleri could convert on.
Anyway. Doubtful that will happen, just some speculating, but that’s a little something for you to think about while Andreoff is undoubtedly sitting in the penalty box for a unnecessary infraction tonight.
Darcy Kuemper will most likely get his first start in a Kings uniform. He’s only gotten into two games against the Islanders in his career to date, with one loss (the other game was in relief) and five goals against. He’s always performed exceedingly well at Staples Center, so hopefully that continues to stay true even though he’s on the home team now.
Every night might not be full of three power play goals like last night, but maybe it should be. Let’s see what happens.
Projected Line Combinations
Los Angeles Kings
Iafallo - Kopitar - Brown
Pearson - Carter - Toffoli
Brodzinski - Kempe - Dowd
Andreoff - Shore - Lewis
Forbort - Doughty
Muzzin - Martinez
Fantenberg - Folin
New York Islanders
Lee - Tavares - Eberle
Ladd - Barzal - Bailey
Chimera - Nelson - Ho-Sang
Kulemin - Cizikas - Clutterbuck
Leddy - Boychuk
De Haan - Pelech
Hickey - Mayfield
Opposing Preview: Lighthouse Hockey