Puck Drop: 7:30PM ET | UBS Arena | Elmont, NY
Radio: WGR 550
SB Nation New York Islanders Blog: Lighthouse Hockey
Know Your Opponent
New York Islanders
Last Game: 4-3 Loss to Vegas (SO)
Division Ranking: 8th in the Metropolitan Division
PP: 24th (16.9%)
PK: 23rd (82.4%)
What to Watch
1. Who Will Clear COVID Protocols to Play (or Coach) Against the Islanders?
The Buffalo Sabres are reeling from enduring so many players and coach Don Granato out when they entered COVID protocols. The bad news came a day after Christmas, when Granato, Dylan Cozens and Mark Jankowski joined Zemgus Girgensons, Jeff Skinner and Vinnie Hinostroza as COVID positives.
The good news is, the three most recent Sabres personnel to enter the protocols were asymptomatic. COVID devastated Buffalo last season, after the Sabres played the New Jersey Devils in back-to-back games and the virus went through the team with a vengeance. With the team 100% vaccinated, let’s hope the latest illness wave isn’t as catastrophic as the previous one.
2. Can the Sabres Get Back to Playing Their Game, Instead of Defending Against Someone Else’s?
During Buffalo’s latest loss against the New Jersey Devils, their opponents outshot them 42-22 and beat them 4-3. The previous game against the Pittsburgh Penguins on 12/17, also a loss, the Pens outshot the Sabres 48-21. Buffalo has let their opponents dictate the game in recent matchups, allowing them to play most of their ice time in the Sabres’ zone, and not doing enough to clear the puck, control play or generate enough offensive chances.
When the Sabres have behaved aggressively in past games this season, wins have followed. Buffalo needs to get back to doing what works, which is taking the fight to their opponents, instead of the other way around.
3. Bookies Split on Betting Odds
The oddsmakers at Picks and Parlays predict the Sabres will win this contest 3-2. Buffalo is playing back-to-back games which is a disadvantage, however the Islanders are not a good team and haven’t played competitive hockey in a long time. By contrast, Jonny Lazarus at Action Network gives the Islanders the edge. Lazarus believes their long break means New York will be rested and ready to go, and he also assumes there’s a mismatch in goal with Sorokin taking on Subban. The Morning Puck has UPL projected in net, so we’ll see who shows up in goal tonight.
Alex Tuch – Tage Thompson – JJ Peterka
Brett Murray – Peyton Krebs – Kyle Okposo
Victor Olofsson – Arttu Ruotsalainen – Rasmus Asplund
Anders Bjork – Cody Eakin – John Hayden
Henri Jokiharju – Rasmus Dahlin
Mark Pysyk – Casey Fitzgerald
Ethan Prow – Will Butcher
Starting Goalie: Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen
New York Islanders
Anthony Beauvillier - Brock Nelson - Josh Bailey
Anders Lee - Jean-Gabriel Pageau - Oliver Wahlstrom
Ross Johnston - Casey Cizikas - Cal Clutterbuck
Zach Parise - Austin Czarnik - Kieffer Bellows
Scott Mayfield - Adam Pelech
Noah Dobson - Zdeno Chara
Andy Greene - Sebastian Aho
Starting Goalie: Ilya Sorokin