Comeau joins Miro and Vasicek; Reax to Ricky's All-Star performance; purchase tickets here - Islanders (24-20-6) vs. Ottawa (31-15-4), Tonight: 7:05 pm, TV: FSN NY 2, Radio: Bloomberg 1130
The Islanders begin their final 32 games with a home contest against the Ottawa Senators, tonight at 7 pm, two points ahead of where they were last year and tied with the Rangers for the coveted eighth spot.
A year ago at this time – the 50-game mark – the Islanders were amidst an eight-game point streak that saw them jump from a .500 record to five games over .500. By the end of February, the Islanders were nine games over .500 and well on their way to reaching the postseason, but with Rick DiPietro's late-season injury, the Islanders had to sneak in on the final day.
"That's something you don't want to have to do every year," said Ted Nolan about clinching the playoffs on the final day. "We'd take it again, but hopefully we can go on a run and avoid that. We spoke on the ice today about this final stretch. The season is a long marathon, but we're coming into the sprint part of it. In order for us to get there, we have to play our game. I know it's tough to play mistake-free, but we have to make sure we limit our mistakes and turnovers. We have to rely on our systems and our defensive play. If we can keep each game close, hopefully we can come out in the end."
The Islanders face a formidable opponent to begin their final stretch. The Senators come to town, owning the Eastern Conference's best record. Even without Dany Heatley in the lineup, the Senators are one of the most dangerous teams in the NHL. Daniel Alfredsson is the NHL's leading point-getter with 67 and Jason Spezza is tied for seventh with 40 assists.
"They're a team we have a lot of respect for," said Ted. "If you're not prepared, they'll blow you out of the water. If you're not at the top of your game, it's going to be a long night."
In 2006-07, the Islanders had no luck against the Stanley Cup finalists, going 0-4-0, but in 2007-08 it's been a different story. The Islanders have captured two out of the first three meetings. Their latest was a 3-1 victory at the back end of their five-game road trip. The Islanders will try to take their first season series against Ottawa since 2003-04.
"It's good to get some confidence from our previous two wins, considering we didn't have too much success against them last year," said Ted. "This year we tweaked our lineup a little better. Guys who came in this year like Guerin, Comrie and Fedotenko have played some big games, so they know what it's like to prepare. That has been a big difference."
COMEAU JOINS SATAN-VASICEK LINE
Just 22 games into his young NHL career, 21-year old Blake Comeau has made quite an impression on the Islanders coaching staff. After seeing limited ice time in his first 19 games, it appears that time will increase starting on Tuesday.
At today's practice, Comeau wore the light blue jerseys along with Miroslav Satan and Josef Vasicek. Comeau has seen some time with the two Europeans. Comeau's efforts in the Islanders' latest game – a 4-1 loss to Boston – helped in the coaching staff's decision.
"In the last game before the All-Star break we thought Blake was one of our best forwards," indicated Ted. "He was skating well, making some good plays and hitting. He deserves a little bit more ice time."
Added Comeau: "I will play the same physical game and try to get them the puck when I can. It's fun to play with them. They make good plays with the puck, and they're easy to play with. Hilbert, Jackman and I were successful keeping it simple and getting it in deep. Playing with different guys won't change that."
REACTIONS TO RICKY'S ALL-STAR PERFORMANCE
Despite having Rick DiPietro in goal for the NHL All-Star Game, the Islanders coaches and players were fairly busy "relaxing" and many did not catch Ricky stonewall the West All-Stars.
"I was traveling around Ontario watching my youngest son Jordan play with the Windsor Spitfires of the OHL," said coach Nolan. "I heard nothing but good reports from Garth about Ricky's play. All indications are that he played well and had a good time."
Captain Bill Guerin also missed the game, but watched the highlights online.
"It seems like he shouldn't have given up any goals. The guys up in the booth were talking to him when he gave up the goal," said Guerin, referring to Ricky conversing with VERSUS broadcasters during play. "After that he was lights out."
Steve Mears and Chris King have the call on Bloomberg 1130, while Howie Rose and Billy Jaffe can be seen tonight on FSN NY 2.
Don't forget to choose your "Pick 'N' Win" answers prior to the game's start.
Check out the Islanders TV Game Day tab for complete coverage of tonight’s game.
For out-of-market viewers, catch the game live through Islanders TV on NHL Center Ice Online
STATS TEAM LEADERS Islanders – Bill Guerin, 18 goals; Mike Comrie 22 assists, 36 points; Andy Sutton 78 PIM Ottawa – Daniel Alfredsson, 32 goals, 67 points; Jason Spezza, 40 assists; Chris Neil, 125 PIM.
SPECIAL TEAMS: Islanders - Power play: 15.9%; Penalty killing: 84.7% Ottawa - Power play: 18.2%; Penalty killing: 82.5%
Islanders – Rick DiPietro (19-17-6), 2.57 GAA, .911 SV%); Wade Dubielewicz (5-3-0, 3.37, .898) Ottawa – Martin Gerber (22-8-1, 2.65, .914); Ray Emery (8-7-3, 2.95, .891)
2 Aaron Johnson
4 Bryan Berard
8 Bruno Gervais
25 Andy Sutton
32 Brendan Witt
44 Freddy Meyer
47 Marc-Andre Bergeron
7 Trent Hunter
10 Richard Park
11 Andy Hilbert
13 Bill Guerin “C”
18 Mike Sillinger “A”
20 Sean Bergenheim
26 Ruslan Fedotenko
28 Tim Jackman
57 Blake Comeau
63 Josef Vasicek
81 Miroslav Satan
89 Mike Comrie
Goaltenders 1 Ray Emery
29 Martin Gerber
2 Luke Richardson
4 Chris Phillips
5 Christoph Schubert
6 Wade Redden
7 Joe Corvo
14 Andrej Meszaros
24 Anton Volchenkov
10 Shean Donovan
11 Daniel Alfredsson
12 Mike Fisher
16 Brian McGrattan
19 Jason Spezza
20 Antoine Vermette
22 Chris Kelly
25 Chris Neil
27 Randy Robitaille
37 Dean McAmmond
44 Patrick Eaves
58 Cody Bass
GET YOUR TICKETS TODAY
The Islanders host the East-leading Ottawa Senators for the final time of the 2007-08 regular season.
To purchase individual game tickets, click here or visit the Coliseum box office, the Islanders Team Store at the Broadway Mall in Hicksville or call Ticketmaster at 631.888.9000.
High School and college students, this is your chance for $10 tickets to see Rick DiPietro and the Islanders take on the Ottawa Senators on Tuesday night. For Long Island students, there isn't a better deal in professional sports.
LOUDVILLE tickets go on sale 60 minutes before game time. There are a limited number of seats available per game, so arrive early to secure a seat. Remember to bring your Student ID! There is a limit of one $10 LOUDVILLE ticket per ID. Once you get to the LOUDVILLE section, do your part to help lead the crowd in giving the Islanders the best home-ice advantage in the NHL!
RICKY ALL-STAR SHIRTS
Exclusive Rick DiPietro All-Star T-shirts available only at the Islanders Team Store at the Broadway Mall
Visit the Islanders Team Store at the Broadway Mall in Hicksville to purchase your Rick DiPietro All-Star T-shirt today. Take a piece of history home with you.
MEET THE COACH
An IBC and NYI365 special event featuring a Chalk Talk from Ted Nolan and his staff
The Islanders Business Club and NYI365 have brought their members closer to the team than ever before.
That trend will continue on Wednesday, January 30, when the Islanders invite IBC members and NYI365 season ticketholders to an intimate sit-down with Islanders head coach Ted Nolan at Doolin's Pub from 9:15-10:30 am.
While enjoying a special breakfast in Doolin's, located in the lower lobby of the Nassau Coliseum, guests will have the opportunity to listen to Ted, as well as assistant coaches Gerard Gallant and John Chabot, talk about the state of the Islanders and what to expect as the Islanders make a final playoff push. Those in attendance will also be given the opportunity to ask the coaches questions at the conclusion of the talk.
But the event doesn't end there. Following the talk, guests are invited to enter the arena and watch the Islanders practice, which begins at noon. Every member at the event will also receive a Ted Nolan photo.
To purchase a $25 ticket to this event, please e-mail Catie Bennett at Catie.Bennett@newyorkislanders.com. Space is limited to the first 125 people, so order your tickets today to ensure a spot at this exclusive event.