GAME DAY — Islanders at Rangers, 7pm

Screen shot 2013-02-06 at 9.23.01 PM
New York, NY — Madison Square Garden — MSG+islesbar

The Islanders head to the Garden for the second Thursday night in a row, falling 4-1 last time in a battle decidedly in favor of the Rangers. In that time the Islanders’ losing streak has extended itself from two to five and things are in the neighborhood of getting desperate. All five of those losses came in regulation, so the Islanders couldn’t even do themselves the favor of a “loser point” in any of those games. So now there are a few more divisional games against tough teams ahead, and we’ll see how long it takes before things are either turned around or out of control (by this time next week, we could know for sure — and that’s only if you don’t already think things are out of control, which would be a fine assessment).

The lineup is very different from anything we’ve seen before. Even the defensive lines have been moved around, in a search for trying to get something, anything, to work. Dominik at Lighthouse calls is “desperately random,” which is something I have to agree with.

It’s getting desperate, early after these losses. But does that matter when the team is “playing hard” every night? (sarcasm font)

Evgeni Nabokov will be your steward between the pipes tonight, facing Rangers’ backup and one-time Islander Martin Biron across the ice. The rest of the lines are as follows, with a distinct air of toughness to them:

Moulson – Tavares – Boyes
Bailey – Nielsen – Okposo
Grabner – Aucoin – McDonald
Martin – Cizikas – Boulton

Defense pairings aren’t quite solid yet. Here’s a projection based on practice yesterday:
Strait – Hamonic
MacDonald – Visnovsky
Finely – Streit

Nabokov
DiPietro

David Ullstrom and Thomas Hickey are your press box pals in favor of two much less mobile players. Everyone else is still hurt (Carkner, Martinek, Joensuu)