Isles Leafs preview and Anders Lee on his season
The Islanders return to the ice, tonight, to take on the Maple Leafs at the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum. The team will look to bounce back from it's 3-1 defeat in Pittsburgh this past Saturday. The Islanders will face a Toronto team and look to find their way as they enter tonight with a record of 2-3-1. I have said all week that the Islanders will lose games throughout the season, but how they bounce back from these defeats will be the difference in their season. They simply cannot afford any extended losing streaks throughout the season.
Jaroslav Halak will get the start in net tonight, although I do expect with three games this week, we will see Chad Johnson at some point. The status of Travis Hamonic and Lubomir Visnovsky will be determined later today but both did practice this morning.
With Mikhail Grabovski recovering from a concussion, the lines are a little jumbled heading into tonight’s game. Colin McDonald will get another chance to show he belongs in this lineup’s bottom six. He doesn’t need to score goals but McDonald and his line mates need to be a pain to play against. We simply have not seen the fourth line show that chemistry that they had two seasons ago. If the lines look out of sync like they did at times at Pittsburgh, I would like to see some changes moving forward.
Mikhail Grabovski did skate this morning and the team has him listed as day-to-day. This is an encouraging sign. If Grabovski is returning soon, then the lines can return to normal. However, concussions are tricky and if Grabo is headed to the Injured Reserve, this team needs to call up winger Anders Lee and expose someone to waivers. I had the chance to talk to Lee today and I asked him about his fast start in Bridgeport. “It’s good, getting some good chemistry with the guys on the team. I’m just trying to work hard and get to the areas where I can score and do whatever it takes to win.”
We all know that Lee can play in the NHL; we saw it, first-hand, last season and after another strong camp I asked Anders how he stays focused and doesn’t worry about decisions that he has no control over, “The situation like that it fuels you. It gets you going every day when you come to the rink and it makes you a better player.”
I asked Lee what he has to do specifically to stand out and make impossible for his strong play to not be ignored, “I have to keep doing what I’m doing. Working hard, playing hard, continue to get it in on the forecheck and continue to score. I’m getting used to the pro game, you become used to everything around you and you can just relax and play hockey.” said Lee.
It is quite obvious that Lee is ready for the next challenge in his career, the NHL. He will play on the Islanders this season, his play will make it impossible to keep him off the roster at some point this season. Lee has the right attitude and is focused on taking that next step. As always, for more on all things hockey please follow me on twitter at @DanDanNoodles78.
Projected forward lines for tonight: