The Toronto Maple Leafs host the New York Islanders tonight and hope that they can avoid the ever familiar letdown after a good win. Our friends for today's preview can be found at Lighthouse Hockey where they mix in coverage of the team's games (they beat the Lightning? LOL) with some pretty sharp wit on topics near to our heart. It's a shame that they had to ruin it with their impatience at not moving up the ladder at SBN but for now here are Dominik's answers to today's three questions:
1. What's the deal with not reporting to Long Island and how do the fans take these things?
It depends on the fan. Some go into battle mode and cry disrespect. Others say that's how it goes when you haven't won a playoff series since 1993 (Nice try, Penguins). Still others think if only these players saw the OTHER side of the parking lot when they visited, they'd not hesitate. Many are reassured that Nabokov is now a happy camper and key member of the team.
2. Is the Islanders' approach to sit the kids on the farm and in junior while filling out their roster with waiver wire pickups planned? and do you agree with it?
It's tough to say what the plan was when everything happened so fast after the lockout. I'm sure they expected David Ullstrom and Casey Cizikas (homegrown promotions) to earn roles, and they appeared to sign Colin McDonald with the idea of him earning a short-time role in adrenalized "this is my last shot at the NHL" mode. But I didn't expect a) Thomas Hickey to fall in their laps, and b) Having claimed him, playing Joe Finley instead. I'm fine with Ryan Strome and Nino Niederreiter not being promoted now. There are decent arguments for both of them being able to help the team now, but even Nino, I can't claim he's polished and ready to go. Matt Donovan too looks very close, but he wouldn't be top four with the Isles and I don't know if they should force him to assist Matt Carkner.
3. Which one of us makes the playoffs again first?
Pl-...playoffs?! Playoffs?! I'm sorry, I don't understand the question and I won't respond to it.
New York Islanders
Matt Moulson - John Tavares - Kyle Okposo
Michael Grabner - Frans Nielsen - Brad Boyes
David Ullstrom - Keith Aucoin - Colin McDonald
Matt Martin - Casey Cizikas (Always keep a camera on this guy) - Marty Reasoner (Eric Boulton)
Dominik's Note: Boulton played against New Jersey (his old team, and they dress Cam Janssen) but didn't play against Tampa Bay. Unless you all have some knuckleheads, I expect he's a scratch.
Also: Aucoin's been impressive so far. Smart on faceoffs and generally decent secondary contributor. Two games, of course.
Mark Streit - Brian Strait (Dominik's Note: have fun with that!)
Travis Hamonic - Andrew MacDonald
Joe Finley (Frattin's Lawnmower Buddy!) - Matt Carkner (ZOMBIE CARKNER!)
As you can imagine, that Finley-Carkner duo has not been impressive. The Isles have Thomas Hickey and Radek Martinek on the roster, so I'd not be shocked if one of them appeared. Fans certainly plead for it.
Toronto Maple Leafs
Toronto had an optional skate this morning due to playing in Pittsburgh last night, so this is our best guess for tonight:
James van Riemsdyk - Mikhail Grabovski - Nikolai Kulemin
Clarke MacArthur - Tyler Bozak - Phil Kessel
Leo Komarov - Nazem Kadri - Matt Frattin
Mike Brown - Jay McClement - Colton Orr
Carl Gunnarsson - Dion Phaneuf
John-Michael Liles - Mike Komisarek
Jake Gardiner - Mike Kostka