17 February 2011
The Islanders get set to take on the Boston Bruins tonight at the Coliseum. The Islanders are looking for their fifth straight win after defeating The Candiens, Penguins, Sabres and Senators in their previous four games. The Isles will see a familiar face in Chris Kelly after he was traded from the senators to the Bruins immediately after the Islanders 4-3 shootout win over Ottawa on Tuesday night.
The last time the Islanders and Bruins faced each other was back on December 9 when the Islanders 5-3 at TD Garden in Boston.
Tim Thomas will most likely get the start tonight against the Islanders. Thomas 6-0-1 in his last seven games against the Isles and 26-8-6 with a .938 save percentage this season. No set starter has been named for the Islanders but chances are we could see Nathan Lawson go again tonight at the Coliseum.
Two interesting things to watch for tonight on the island; one is what will the attendance be for tonight’s game. Last Friday the old barn was rocking, I’m sure all the fights had something to do with it, and crowds reached over 12,000 for one of the few times this season. Now the Islanders have won four games in a row and are playing some of their best hockey all season so it will be interesting to see how the fans respond attendance wise. It also helps that the team is running a $20 ticket promotion for the next four home games, tonight included.
The second will be if Islanders break out rookie Michael Grabner will continue his goal scoring streak. It is currently at six games so far. Grabner also leads all rookies in scoring with 25 goals and has made himself a fixture in the Calder Trophy conversation.
SportsNation talks Isles-Pens Brawl:
Several days ago ESPN’s SportsNation took time to discuss the royal rumble that took place between the Islanders and Penguins and the comments made by Mario Lemieux. The polls shown indicated a close split between who agreed with the Penguins owner and who didn’t. Two interesting quotes came out of the show. The first one from co-host Michelle Beadle who agreed with what Lemieux said to a certain extent.
“As much as I like a good hockey fight, this was pretty bad. It was all retribution for the Rick DiPietro punch the other day,” Beadle said on air. “My problem with Mario Lemieux is that he made it seem as though the Islanders are the only team to send cheap shot artists out. Matt Cook plays for the Penguins, and he is suspended because he’s also a cheap shot artist, so there’s sort of a hypocritical thing going on there.”
Both are common statements heard since Friday’s melee. Unfortunately Michelle’s comments about it all being over punch to Rick Dipietro were, for the most part, incorrect. What happened Friday was a product of what the team felt as being run at and not being respected. That’s why they decided they had to get down and dirty to defend themselves, make a statement to the rest of the league and gets some revenge on the Pens for running at them, as well as Maxime Talbot’s questionable hit on Blake Comeau.
The second quote was from host Colin Cowherd, who made a point that I’ve agreed with for years.
“The bottom line is that it’s interesting, it’s fighting. The masses like the fighting.”
For years it has been though that more fans would watch if the league minimized fighting during the course of games. In a country that loves the sports of boxing, MMA fighting, WWE Wrestling (yes, I know its fake) and like watching Snookie and Sammy “Sweetheart” go at it on Jersey Shore the idea that fighting in hockey has kept away fans is a little absurd. In a conversation I had with friend and host of the SportsWire on 88.1fm WCWP, Max Caster, he told me that if more hockey games were like the one between Pens and Isles he’d start watching hockey more.
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