Time: 7:00 pm Eastern Time
Location: Barclays Center
Broadcast/Streaming: MSG+, SunS
Opponent SBNation Site: Lighthouse Hockey
This will be the second meeting between the two teams this season. The Tampa Bay Lightning were successful in the first game and beat the Isles 4-2 in the November. After 45 games, the Lightning have 72 points and are 13 points ahead of the closest team in the Eastern conference.
Before the start of the season, many people were suggesting that the New York Islanders would be the one of these teams tanking for the first overall draft pick. But it’s already January and the team is currently sitting in the second wild-card position seven points behind the leading team in the Metropolitan Division.
Even after losing John Tavares, they are able to fight for a playoff spot and have posted a decent 7-3-0 record in the last 10 games. That probably wouldn’t be possible without Barry Trotz, who left the Washington Capitals after winning the Stanley Cup this summer. He has been named the best of coach of the season in the preliminary poll by the writers of NHL.com.
The biggest issues are probably their special teams: the Islanders are just 22nd on the PP and 25th on the PK, but their numbers at Even Strength are pretty solid. They have one of the lowest GA in the whole league, trailing only the Boston Bruins at this point.
One of the reasons for the Islanders success is Robin Lehner. He is probably having the best season of his career. Until the last night’s loss to the New York Rangers, he had a personal win streak of eight games. Just like the Lightning, the Islanders are on the second half of a back-to-back, so Lehner will probably be given a rest on a Sunday night and Thomas Greiss will play in the net.
It will be very interesting to see Tampa’s coaches’ decisions on the Lightning line-up. J.T. Miller played his first game of 2019 last night but played just 11 minutes. Ryan Callahan also returned from his upper body injury and even scored a goal in the third period. Matheiu Joseph, Danick Martel and Anton Stralman were been scratched for the game against Sabres.
Andrei Vasilevskiy will be obviously back in the net and expect Anton Stralman’s going to play against Islanders too. Given that the Lightning having the second game in the two days, it would be fair to assume that Dan Girardi or Brayden Coburn will sit next game as a healthy scratch.
Among the forwards, we’re not sure how the coaches will handle the rotation but they suggested that they will be doing something similar to how they’ve handled the blue line. It wouldn’t be a surprise to see Joseph back in the lineup tonight, possibly at the expense of Adam Erne.
Tampa Bay Lightning
Ondrej Palat - Steven Stamkos - Yanni Gourde
Tyler Johnson - Brayden Point - Nikita Kucherov
Alex Killorn - Anthony Cirelli - J.T. Miller
Mathieu Joseph - Cedric Paquette - Ryan Callahan
Scratched: Adam Erne, Danick Martel
Victor Hedman - Anton Stralman
Ryan McDonagh - Erik Cernak
Braydon Coburn - Mikhail Sergachev
Scratched: Dan Girardi
New York Islanders
Anders Lee - Brock Nelson - Jordan Eberle
Anthony Beauvillier - Mathew Barzal - Josh Bailey
Ross Johnston - Valtteri Filppula - Leo Komarov
Matt Martin - Casy Cizikas - Cal Clutterback
Injuries: Andrew Ladd
Nick Leddy - Johnny Boychuk
Devon Toews - Ryan Pulock
Luca Sbisa - Scott Mayfield
Injuries: Thomas Hickey