NEW YORK ISLANDERS (40-22-7) VS MONTREAL CANADIENS (37-26-7) @ 7pm
So with nothing major happening in Giants land unless you call trading OBJ something? LOL! Our Islanders are getting us through this putrid season and now off-season. With everything that is going on with our boys in Blue Thank God for the season the Islanders are having. Now we need to keep it going and make that push for the playoffs.
So, we are coming off an impressive victory over the Blue Jackets. Not our best 3rd period but a solid victory. Need to build off that victory. Griess should start again but Lehner came back to practice yesterday. Boychek will miss another game so he has now sat as long as Vorachek has. We have a chance to take back over 1st tonight with a win and a Caps
loss to the Flyers. It was nice to have an extra day off as Trotz has been complaining about lack of practice time for the team. They were able to get one in yesterday. We have won 3 of our last 4 and the Canadians have lost 3 of last 4. We finally play a team whose PP is worse than ours. I know you can not believe it either. The Habs are 15-43 in their last 58 games against teams with winning records. We need another solid all around effort we are only 8 points ahead of the Canadians and Blue Jackets. We need to win all these 4 point games. Hope the Barn is rocking tonight.
Thomas Greiss is expected to start between the pipes tonight for the Islanders, marking his fourth straight. Robin Lehner will back Greiss up in his return to the lineup after missing three straight games with an upper-body injury.
Johnny Boychuk will remain out of the lineup after sustaining an upper-body injury against Philadelphia on Saturday. Per coach Barry Trotz, the defenseman has made progress and skated on his own for the first time this morning.
ISLES LOOKING TO JUMPSTART POWER PLAY:
The Islanders power play is in the midst of a drought entering Thursday's contest.
The power play is 0-for-20 over the past nine games, a slump they're looking to bust against the Canadiens, who boast the 16th-ranked penalty kill in the NHL at 80.4%. Over the past 10 games, the Canadiens have killed off 24-of-28 penalties (85.7%).
"We just have to work with what we have and they just have to get it done, plain and simple," Head Coach Barry Trotz said. "That's a part of our game that we need to be better at. It needs to help us win games. It's gone through a bit of a dry patch right now."
The Islanders made a switch to their power-play units on Monday, moving Devon Toews into Nick Leddy's spot on the first unit. Trotz said he was just looking to shake things to see if he could "find a little lightning in a bottle."
The coach added that he's opted to keep Ryan Pulock with the second unit - which features two defensemen - so he can play him at the top of the circle and look for one-timers with a left-handed defenseman feeding him from the point. Pulock said the Isles have been getting chances and just need to break through.
"Sometimes we have some pretty good movement and control the puck, but don't always get pucks into high-scoring areas," Pulock said. "So I think that's a big key will be to simplify a little bit, continue with the puck movement, but when we get that chance, try to get some pucks on net and try to get some bodies there and hopefully outbattle and win some of those loose pucks."
Power-play opportunities become scarcer as the season goes along, so the Isles know how important it is to get the man advantage back on track.
"They become huge," Pulock added. "It seems might get one or two chances a night and those chances are crucial. Games are so tight and if you can win that special teams battle it gives you a better chance to win."
The Islanders are 4-11-2 in their last 17 games against the Canadiens. The Isles and Habs will conclude their season series on Mar. 21 in Montreal.
As the playoff race heats up, the stakes continue to rise. For the Islanders (87 points), a win Thursday, coupled with a Washington Capitals (89 points) loss, would put the Isles in a first-place tie for the Metro Division. The Islanders are also trying to stay ahead of the Pittsburgh Penguins (85 points), who lurk two points back.
While the Isles are looking for a better seed, Montreal continues to vie just for a playoff bid. The Canadiens (81 points) are with tied Columbus Blue Jackets for the second wild card spot in the Eastern Conference. The Blue Jackets (38 ROW) hold the tiebreaker over the Canadiens' (35 ROW).
- Robin Lehner practiced with the team on Wednesday for the first time since suffering an upper-body injury on Mar. 5 where the Swedish goalie collided with Ottawa forward Brady Tkachuk.
Lehner was relieved to pass protocols and rejoin his team after missing three games and noted that after participating with full contact he feels, "100-percent."
"It's nice to be back," Lehner said. "It just sucks to be away from the guys especially this time of year. Being around the guys and being around the team is a huge thing."
Head Coach Barry Trotz said Lehner was a "possibility" to return to the lineup on Thursday, a scenario that seems likely with Christopher Gibson's loan to the Bridgeport Sound Tigers. Trotz did not specify if Lehner would start, or just dress for the contest.
During Lehner's absence, goaltender Thomas Greiss recorded three wins, including a 2-0 shutout over Columbus on Monday, and a 5-2 loss to Philadelphia on Saturday.
- Johnny Boychuk sat out Wednesday's practice and is still recovering after sustaining an upper-body injury on Saturday against Philadelphia. Boychuk sustained the injury after a hit from Flyers winger Jakub Voracek. Voracek was administered with a five-minute major for interference on the play and was subsequently suspended for two games. The Islanders defenseman has yet to skate on his own, per Trotz.
"He's getting better," Trotz said. "He has not skated yet. He's more day-to-day than anything. I wouldn't say he's week-to-week. He's just day-to-day, but not today."
- While the Islanders have gotten results in three of their last four games (3-1-0), the power play is still looking to get back on track. The Isles power play is on an 0-for-20 stretch over the past nine games and is 15.2% on the season. The Canadiens penalty kill is ranked 16th in the league at 80.4 percent.
- The Islanders are wrapping up a stretch of eight-of-nine games at NYCB Live. They are 3-4-0 in the first seven games.
- The Canadiens enter Thursday's contest after defeating Detroit 3-1 on Tuesday night. The win over the Wings snapped a two-game losing streak for the Habs, who lost two straight in San Jose and Anaheim by a combined score of 13-4.
- Goaltender Carey Price became the winningest goaltender in the Canadiens franchise history on Tuesday, recording his 315th career win, passing Jacques Plante. Price is 29-20-5 this season with a 2.59 GAA and a .914 SV% with three shutouts.
- Forward Tomas Tatar returned to the lineup against Detroit after suffering from the flu and missing the Canadiens against the Ducks on March 8. The left-wing sits second in the Canadiens leaderboard with 22 goals and 50 points.
- Max Domi leads Montreal in scoring with 24 goals and 62 points.