The New York Islanders look to end their four-game winless streak (0-3-1) when they host the Ottawa Senators Sunday night at the Barclays Center. The Senators just ended a three-game skid of their own on Saturday when they defeated the New Jersey Devils 3-1 at Newark.
The Islanders will once again start J.F. Berube in net. Berube earned another start after a strong, 34 save performance Friday night in Buffalo. This is just Berube’s second start of the season after making just one brief relief appearance in the team’s first 30 games.
The Senators will be starting Andrew Hammond in net. Hammond’s last appearance came on December 11 against Anaheim. He has spent most of the season in the minors.
The Islanders will once again be without Casey Cizikas who is nursing an upper-body injury. Anthony Beauvillier will be in the lineup in place of Cizikas but the Islanders will certainly miss the veteran center’s grit, his expertise in the faceoff circle and his ability on the penalty kill.
Ottawa Senators at New York Islanders
Barclays Center – 7:00 PM EST
Broadcast Channels: MSG-Plus and TVAS, Sportsnet
2016-17 Season Series: First Matchup of the Season
New York Islanders – 11-13-6 – 28 points
Home Record: 9-6-4
Hot Players: Anders Lee, John Tavares, Ryan Strome
Key Injuries: Adam Pelech, Casey Cizikas
Anders Lee – John Tavares – Josh Bailey
Shane Prince – Brock Nelson – Ryan Strome
Nikolay Kulemin – Anthony Beauvillier – Cal Clutterbuck
Andrew Ladd – Alan Quine – Jason Chimera
Nick Leddy – Travis Hamonic
Thomas Hickey – Johnny Boychuk
Calvin de Haan – Dennis Seidenberg
Ottawa Senators – 17-11-3 – 37 points
Road Record: 7-6-0
Hot Players: Zach Smith, Bobby Ryan, Mark Stone, Ryan Dzingel
Key Injuries: Mike Hoffman (suspended), Clarke MacArthur, Fredrik Claesson, Craig Anderson (family leave)
Ryan Dzingel – Kyle Turris – Bobby Ryan
Zack Smith – Derick Brassard – Mark Stone
Tom Pyatt – Jean-Gabriel Pageau – Curtis Lazar
Casey Bailey – Chris Kelly – Chris Neil
Marc Methot – Erik Karlsson
Dion Phaneuf – Cody Ceci
Mark Borowiecki – Chris Wideman
[miptheme_dropcap style=”normal” color=”#222222″ background=””]1)[/miptheme_dropcap]Ottawa’s power play is ranked a rather pedestrian 20th in the league with a 16.2 percent conversion rate. But, the Sens are much better on the road with the extra attacker. The Sens rank seventh in the league away from home with a 22.5 percent success rate. The Islanders penalty kill has hurt the team in their recent losing streak. They need to stop the Senators from scoring with the man-advantage if they hope to win the hockey game.
[miptheme_dropcap style=”normal” color=”#222222″ background=””]2)[/miptheme_dropcap]The Islanders will want to take advantage of the Senators early. Ottawa has been outshot in the first period by 322-289 and outscored 29-22 in the opening 20 minutes. The Isles need to take advantage of the slow-starting Senators and take charge of the game early. The Isles need to score early since the Senators are 8-1-1 when scoring first.
[miptheme_dropcap style=”normal” color=”#222222″ background=””]3)[/miptheme_dropcap]The Islanders are fortunate to be facing Ottawa without Mike Hoffman as he is serving the second game of his two-game suspension for a vicious cross-check to Logan Couture of San Jose. Hoffman is tied for second on the Senators with nine goals and leads Ottawa with five power-play goals. This is one weapon the Isles won’t have to worry about on Sunday.
[miptheme_dropcap style=”normal” color=”#222222″ background=””]4)[/miptheme_dropcap]One big difference between these two teams is their ability to win close games. The Islanders have won just five of 16 one-goal contests (5-5-6). Ottawa, on the other hand, is 9-2-3.
[miptheme_dropcap style=”normal” color=”#222222″ background=””]5)[/miptheme_dropcap]Although the Islanders are struggling, they do lead the league in one important category: blocked shots. The Isles have 578 blocked shots, led by Calvin de Haan with 86. As of now, de Haan is first in the league in that category despite averaging only 18:18 of ice time per game.
Although we’re still not halfway through the season, the Islanders need to get another winning streak together almost immediately if they have any hope of getting back into the playoff race. Their latest hope is to rally around Berube who played well Friday in his first start of the season.
The Isles have some advantages tonight in addition to playing at home. They are also facing Ottawa without their top goalie (Anderson), one of their best offensive players (Hoffman) and the Senators are playing on the second night of a back-to-back. The Islanders still have their work cut out for them, but this is practically a must-win game for the Isles.
Long time hockey writer and author of the new book, “Ice Wars: The Complete History of New York’s Greatest Modern Sports Rivalry.” It tells the story behind every game between the Rangers and Islanders dating back to 1972 and features profiles of more than 80 players from both teams and quotes from more than 50 exclusive interviews from players, coaches and broadcasters from both teams.