Predators @ Islanders Preview: A Long Island Nooner

UNIONDALE, NY - NOVEMBER 23: Matt Moulson #26 and John Tavares #91 of the New York Islanders skate in warmups prior to the game against the Philadelphia Flyers at the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum on November 23, 2011 in Uniondale, New York. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

The Nashville Predators begin a 3-game road trip this afternoon by visiting the New York Islanders in a Martin Luther King, Jr. Day special (noon Central on FS-TN). Having come through a strong recent stretch on home ice, the Preds need to take their act on the road against unfamiliar opponents today and tomorrow. Will they roll the lines and trust to a strong team effort, or rely on the stars to take on the heavy lifting and protect the role players?

Let's take a look at how today's game shapes up...

Tale Of The Tape

Nashville (25-15-4) at NY Islanders (16-20-6)
NSH Offense vs. NYI Defense NYI Offense vs. NSH Defense
GF/60 SF/60 Shoot % GA/60 SA/60 Save %
NSH Offense 2.2 (20th) 26.7 (27th) 8.4 (14th) 2.4 (9th) 30.9 (26th) 922 (10th) NSH Defense
NYI Defense 2.9 (27th) 29.2 (10th) 899 (29th) 2.1 (25th) 29.5 (15th) 7.2 (27th) NYI Offense
GA/60 SA/60 Save % GF/60 SF/60 Shoot %
Special Teams
GF/60 SF/60 Shoot % GA/60 SA/60 Save %
NSH 5-on-4 7.4 (3rd) 50.2 (14th) 14.8 (5th) 6.5 (21st) 53.1 (22nd) 877 (17th) NSH 4-on-5
NYI 4-on-5 4.9 (9th) 49.5 (13th) 902 (7th) 7.3 (4th) 48.5 (15th) 15.1 (3rd) NYI 5-on-4
GA/60 SA/60 Save % GF/60 SF/60 Shoot %

Chronically awful goaltending has undermined the Islanders' chances this season. Their Shots For & Against numbers aren't too bad, actually (even when you filter down to close-game situations),

New York Islanders

While their stumble out of the gate pretty much eliminated the Islanders from playoff contention early on, they've played reasonably competitive hockey since then, as described over at Lighthouse Hockey:

The New York Islanders began the second half of 2011-12 in a better place than what they saw at the end of a pretty miserable first quarter. Through the first 21 games the Islanders were 6-11-4, struggling to manage 2.0 goals per game and suffering some poor luck and execution with a 6.9% overall shooting percentage.

As expected, their shooting luck has rebounded -- they're up to 7.9% now -- their goal production has modestly improved to 2.36 per game, and along with that the second quarter offered some belated bright spots. The record in their second 21 games was a more cosmetically pleasing 10-9-2 (including three shootout wins, the kind of coin-flip luck that eluded them in the first quarter), but nowhere near strong enough to undo the damage of October and November. Nonetheless, you might see them headed closer to 20th overall than 30th.

The guy to watch out for is the great hope of the franchise, 2009 1st-overall draft choice John Tavares. He signed up for six more years on Long Island, a remarkable commitment given his ability and the state of the team in recent seasons.

John Tavares

#91 / Center / New York Islanders



Sep 20, 1990

2011 - John Tavares 42 15 27 42 -1 14 5 0 3 150 10.0

The boys at Lighthouse Hockey are up and at 'em with their game preview already, so make sure to head over there and pay Dominik & the gang a visit.

New York Islanders Last 5 Games

Buffalo Sat 01/14 W 4 - 2
Philadelphia Thu 01/12 L 2 - 3
Detroit Tue 01/10 W 5 - 1
@ Phoenix Sat 01/07 L 1 - 5
@ Anaheim Fri 01/06 L 2 - 4

Nashville Predators

Even though we haven't seen any roster moves since Saturday (Smithson still on IR, Mueller with the team) we might see a few changes in the lineup. It will be interesting to see if Jack Hillen gets the chance to play against his old mates, after having been scratched recently. We'll also keep an eye out to see if Craig Smith is healthy enough to play today, after falling ill over the weekend.

With a game against the Rangers on tap for tomorrow, the guess is that Anders Lindback will get the start. Does @FakeLindback like fish sticks?

Anders Lindback

#39 / Goalie / Nashville Predators



May 03, 1988

2011 - Anders Lindback 8 393 2 4 0 18 2.75 168 150 .893 0
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