LGD: Hello Brooklyn

So, that whole “better location” thing didn’t exactly work out for the Islanders, did it? Even with a smaller arena, the team is still unable to fill it, averaging fewer than 13,000 fans in the stands per game. Some of those fans have unfortunate viewing angles, others have to deal with that off-centred scoreboard, but at the end of the day, the players and the people who have stayed with the team over the years surely appreciate playing at a venue that is easier to get to and isn’t literally falling apart.

Whatever the case, the Toronto Maple Leafs are making their first trip to the Barclays Center tonight, and do so carrying a few former members of their team.

The Leafs

Toronto Maple Leafs lines courtesy of Daily Faceoff

Three members of the Leafs have played for the Islanders since the last time that the owners and the players decided that they weren’t happy with the chain of compensation in the league. Brad Boyes played with the team in 2013, PA Parenteau made his come-up in Long Island blue, and most obviously, Michael Grabner. He was traded from the Islanders to the Leafs in one of the great SPC-dump deals in recent history. This will be his first game against the Islanders since the trade, and it’ll come in a different building than the one he called home originally. Weird how that works! 

Beyond that, not a lot of crazy stuff happening with the lineup. There’s a chance that Frank Corrado’s freedom tour will continue, which is neat. Beyond that, though, there isn’t much to phone home about.

The best part about Grabner being on the right side of the ice now? Definitely the fact that this is unlikley to happen again. Maybe.

The Islanders

New York Islanders lines courtesy of Daily Faceoff

I’ve long had an affection for the methodology behind New York’s forward lines. Flanking players on the wings of John Tavares has proven to be a surprisingly good method of offensive development over the years, and anybody who plays with Grabovski and Kulemin (sign) is due to look like a better two-way player (groan). The fourth line, as Don Cherry always mentions, is super fun to watch just crush their opponents on a physical level, even if that means they chase the puck a lot. The only outlier is the second line, but that pile of “the rest” is usually super skilled and flies under the radar until they’re needed the most. The current duo of Nielsen and Strome is a good example of that; both guys have the ability to turn it on out of the blue.

Starting Goaltenders

  • James Reimer is inching towards recovery, but Jonathan Bernier is likely the man who will suit up tonight. Things are starting to go Bernier’s way to an extent, with two wins in his last three, though his save percentage in the last two outings hasn’t exactly been world beating. Either way, he has nowhere to really go but up, and it’s not like the Leafs are risking much by playing him.
  • Jaroslav Halak is the likely starter for the Islanders. He has points in 7 of his last 9 games (5-2-2), and in seven of those games, he’s put up at least a 0.925 save percentage. He’s a 0.923 on the year; well above the league average. It’s a throwback to the days when Habs fans seriously considered keeping him instead of Carey Price; oh, what could have been.

Talking Points

  • The Islanders are having a heck of a start to their season; at this point, they’re sixth in the entire NHL with 43 points on the year, twelve ahead of the 27th seed Leafs. New York has two games in hand.
  • The two teams are terrifyingly close on the possession front; Toronto has maintained a 49.7% CF (16th) this year while the Islanders sit at 49.6 (17th). Their PDO is also similar; Toronto sits at 1006 (11th) while the Islanders are at 1005 (12th). Basically, these teams are equally fancy.
  • This is one of three games that the two teams that the teams play against each other this year; the second of which comes just two days from in Toronto.
  • Tonight’s game will be broadcasted on Sportsnet, and it starts at 6PM.