Thanksgiving, Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, Cyber Monday... You're hearing all these terms being tossed out tied to sales and the holidays but no one is throwing out a catchy name for all the back-to-back games that are being played immediately following the Thanksgiving Day off for the majority of NHL clubs. The Washington Capitals, victors yesterday, head to Toronto to take on the Maple Leafs, the New York Islanders played the Florida Panthers last night and are heading across the saw grass and up the Gulf coast to Tampa today to take on the Lightning. There were / are more back-to-back games this weekend, and it pretty much seems like overkill. Especially since it involves a club - Tampa Bay - that's playing its 25th game of the season tonight.
Three players are listed as day-to-day still: Jonathan Drouin, Tyler Johnson and Cedric Paquette. Johnson was banged up during yesterday's game in Washington while Drouin was cleared to return this morning. Don't read that as locking in Drouin for a return to the lineup tonight, he's available but doing conditioning after the optional morning skate indicates he's probably not going back in yet. Reports from the beat writers covering the game said that recalls from Syracuse are likely before the game tonight, and that those precautionary recalls were likely joining the team on their I-5 Foray next week in California.
Andrei Vasilevskiy started yesterday and was bombarded with 37 shots on goal (18 in the 1st period alone). It sort of underlines the notion Ben Bishop will likely be tabbed to start this one for Tampa Bay. Don't think Vasilevskiy will be waiting long for a return to a starting spot though - another back-to-back affair comes in the California trip (December 5-6).
The Islanders are 11-8-4 and middle-of-the-pack in the Metro Division after 23 games played. Their goals for/against is a plus-7 at this point.... Pretty sound. John Tavares is doing John Tavares-type things with the hockey puck - like scoring. He's got 20 points (10 goals and 10 assists) in - ta-DA! - 20 games played this season. Kyle Okposo trails him by a single point (in 3 more games played) with 5 goals and 14 assists.