New York Islanders vs. Calgary Flames
Isles look to defeat Calgary, begin five-of-six games against Western Conference strong
Thursday, 12.29.2011 / 12:00 AM / News
By Dyan LeBourdais
(Answer from 12/26: Al Montoya. Montoya was originally drafted by the New York Rangers, but never played for the Blueshirts, instead debuting with the Phoenix Coyotes before becoming an Islander.)
|Team Record: 11-17-6
Last Game: 3-0 L @ NYR
Season Series: 0-0-0 of 1
|Team Record: 18-15-4
Last Game: 2-1 SOW @ CBJ
Season Series: 0-0-0 of 1
With two days between games and some frustration setting in over a lack of scoring, Islanders Head Coach Jack Capuano had time to experiment with new line combinations.
“We’ve gone through this drought long enough,” Capuano said after Wednesday's practice. “No one is getting demoted. We don’t have first line, second line, third line, fourth line, when people ask. If you look at the Ranger game, our other guys (Bailey and Reasoner lines) did the job in that game and they grinded it out and played physical.”
Thursday's game against Calgary will be the first test for this new lineup.The players and coaching staff hope this shake up will be what the team needs to start earning some wins.
"Every night is a different challenge, but we have to figure out a way to get all four lines going on the same night," Capuano said. "This was just a situation where things weren’t clicking and little, minor adjustment might help us."
| Blake Comeau
The former Islanders forward has found his new home in Calgary quite fitting.
"It's been good so far, a good change," Comeau said Wednesday afternoon at Nassau Coliseum. "There's a great group of guys here (in Calgary) and we're in the playoff race. It's been a nice change."
Before he was acquired off waivers by the Calgary Flames on Nov. 25, Comeau averaged 12:39 in 16 games with the Islanders, posting zero points. In his first 15 games for the Flames, the left wing has posted two goals and three assists while averaging an even 16 minutes per game, an increase over his time on ice with the Islanders.
"I'm getting a lot of opportunity here," Comeau said. "Hopefully I can start contributing offensively and take more of an advantage of some of that opportunity."
Former Isles forward Tim Jackman also returns to face the Islanders for the first time at Nassau Coliseum after signing with the Flames as a free agent July 2, 2010.
Islanders Captain Mark Streit led the post-practice locker room discussion Wednesday talking about what it takes for the Islanders to win and why the team needs to turn things around right now.
"We just have to realize how we need to play in order to be successful," Streit said. "We talked about it, within the team and group, and it’s a more important time of the year right now. We've played more than 30 games and we don’t want to have that gap to a playoff spot getting any bigger. It’s time to realize that and wake up and to finally perform on a consistent basis. We don’t only need a good performance (Thursday), we need it throughout the rest of the season."
What does Streit think it will it take for the Islanders to walk away with two points?
"I think it’s puck management, especially in the neutral zone," Streit said. "We turn pucks over a lot and in this league against good teams, they make you pay. We get scored on and it changes the momentum, changes the whole feeling of the game.
With Calgary fighting for a playoff spot, currently seeded tied for eighth in the Western Conference standings, Head Coach Jack Capuano called Thursday's matchup a good test.
"They have good goaltending, a veteran team with older guys that play extremely hard," Capuano said. "Every night is a battle. We talk about how we have to grind teams down and that’s what we have to do. We are not one of those teams that is going to play fancy and play cute. We have to get pucks deep, we have to go to work and we have to play physical."
Season series: Only one inter-conference meeting this year, as has been the case since 2001-02. The Islanders have won four of the five games since 2005-06, the last Flames' win a 5-2 home victory on Jan. 8, 2009.
Big story: It's still early enough in the season that a decent winning streak can turn things around quickly, and the Flames' four-game surge is proof. They're even with Nashville for the eighth playoff spot at 40 points and a mere seven points from the fourth seed in a typically tight Western Conference. The Islanders are starting to feel the urgency, as a three-game slide has dropped them to last in the East, 11 points out of the eighth seed. Four of the next five games, however, are against teams from the West, against whom the Isles have a 3-2-4 record.
Flames: Between the injury reports and trade rumors, it's probably not surprising that general manager Jay Feaster let an anniversary slip by. On Wednesday, he marked one full year with the club, but hardly noticed. (Continue Reading)
The Islanders and Flames only faced each other once last season. Playing at Scotiabank Saddledome on Jan. 3, 2011, the Islanders defeated Flames 5-2. John Tavares and Matt Moulson each had a pair of goals while Michael Grabner scored on an empty net to bring the final score. David Moss, currently on injured reserve, scored the only two goals for Calgary.
IslandersPower Play %: 17.4%
Penalty Kill %: 81.2%
Home Record: 6-9-3
Road Record: 5-8-3
Goals For: 77
Goals Against: 111
FlamesPower Play %: 17.5%
Penalty Kill %: 83.5%
Home Record: 10-5-2
Road Record: 8-10-2
Goals For: 92
Goals Against: 99
Check out the Islanders depth chart. Head Coach Jack Capuano revamped the Islanders lineup, Evgeni Nabokov starts, Anders Nilsson backs up.
Flames (Expected) LineupsForwards: Glencross-Jokinen-Iginla, Comeau-Backlund-Stempniak, Byron-Morrison-Bourque, Kostopoulos-Horak-Jackman
Defensemen: Boumeester-Butler, Smith-Hannan, Brodie-Sarich
Goaltenders: Kiprusoff, Irving
Expected scratches: Tanguay, Nemisz, Piskula
Islanders center Josh Bailey: "It’s no secret, we aren’t where we want to be. We have such a good group of guys and too much good to not have success. This would be such a fun team to win with and it’s certainly not too late to turn things around. We have 48 games left; that’s a lot of games, it’s a lot of time, but I has to happen quick. It’s definitely going to be a challenge, but it’s not something we are going to back down from. We just have to get the ball rolling here, starting tomorrow night."
Cory Wright contributed to this report