When Rick DiPietro’s practice ended, I visited with Scott Gordon for a few minutes in the coach’s office and spoke with a few other people in and around the franchise. Here are my notes, including some things to look out for when the Islanders host Philadelphia on Wednesday night.
Martin Biron will start for the Islanders. Gordon committed to Biron facing his old teammates and has no regrets. With games Friday and Saturday afternoon, Dwayne Roloson will play soon enough after a well-deserved rest in the wake of his heroic performance on Monday against the Leafs.
Same forwards, maybe different lines. Expect the same 12 forwards for the Islanders against the Flyers – with Blake Comeau and Rob Schremp getting the suite passes – but watch out for some different line combinations. If Jeff Tambellini is going to be an NHLer, it’s likely not going to be as a fourth-liner. And then there’s…
K.O. needs to get on the board. Kyle Okposo has not been at his consistent best over the last week. Gordon said the right wing’s effort has been there, but “he’s not getting the numbers.” The coach said he has missed on some excellent scoring opportunities. “He may be trying to be too fine with his shot,” said Gordon. No matter how you look at it, Okposo is too good to just be 5-8-13 in 23 games.
Andrew MacDonald is sent down. Updated at 8:45 pm The Islanders have returned Andrew MacDonald to Bridgeport of the AHL. So it will be the usual six on D.
Congrats, Jack. You never get tired of watching a solid, dedicated young man like Jack Hillen start to emerge as a quality NHL defenseman. Whatever you’re doing, kid, keep it up.
The St. Louis Blues. Gordon shared this stat, illustrating the breakdowns in the 4-1 loss in St. Louis. The Islanders allowed eight Blues scoring chances off the rush, compared to eight total in their previous four games.
The barn will not be packed. While the Islanders report growth and promise in ticket sales, they still have a way to go before they turn the corner. Based on what’s available on Ticketmaster and what I’ve heard from a few insiders, the Islanders may be fortunate to announce a crowd of 12,000 for the Thanksgiving Eve tilt against the Flyers. If so, I have to believe it’s still the effect of the economy more than anything else. The Islanders have sold out these Thanksgiving weekend games in the past. The Friday matinee against the Penguins will do better, although a sellout is very doubtful.
No Briere for the Flyers: Philadelphia will be without Daniel Briere, suspended two games for his hit last night on Scott Hannan. Briere leads the Flyers with ten goals.
The home team will wear white on Friday. With the Penguins wearing their vintage powder blues on Friday afternoon at the Coliseum, the home team will wear their white Reebok uniform systems.
And finally…The Islanders’ official message board recently ran a poll on the goal song. Of the more than 200 respondents, only 17 voted for the current classic – “Burn it to the Ground” by Nickelback. At last look, 125 voted for “Rock and Roll (Part 2),” although I don’t see the Islanders bringing Gary Glitter back. Just a hunch, but you have to believe the Islanders are going to change it up soon. The fans are feeling good about their hockey team, and the Islanders usually listen to their fans on fan matters.