By: David Kolb
DETROIT RED WINGS (11-11-3) @ NEW YORK ISLANDERS (9-10-4)
EYES ON THE POSTSEASON
The New York Islanders have reeled off three straight wins over Calgary, Pittsburgh, and Washington. Tonight, the Isles will have an opportunity to gain ground on the Detroit Red Wings, an Eastern Conference opponent currently ranked ahead of the Islanders in the Wild Card race. With three points separating the two teams, tonight’s tilt could prove to be pivotal in the playoff race.
After spending ten seasons with the Islanders, Frans Nielsen will make his return to New York on Sunday, playing against the Isles for the first time. “Fransie” tallied 349 points (119 goals, 230 assists) in 606 games played for the Islanders. This season, Nielsen has 13 points (5 goals, 8 assists), however, surprisingly enough he sits with a minus-8 rating. This puts him at a minus-4 for his career, after posting a plus-4 through ten seasons in Long Island/Brooklyn.
TEAM EFFORT SPURS STREAK
The Islanders offense has come to life over the past two games while tallying eight goals, including production from secondary scorers such as this summer’s free-agent signee Jason Chimera, who has a goal in each of the past two games. Other forwards that have seemed to bounce back while scoring over the past few games include Casey Cizikas, Nikolai Kulemin, Anders Lee and Shane Prince.
REVERSAL OF FORTUNES
Despite the Isles slow start to the season, they can unbelievably get back to .500 with a win against Detroit. The Islanders seem to have the edge as they begin the night 5-4-0 in their last nine meetings with the Red Wings. The Red Wings come to the Barclays Center after losing last night to the Florida Panthers in overtime. Like New York, Detroit is also on the upswing, and are 3-1-2 over their last six games while rebounding from a rough 2-8-1 stretch.
MRAZEK BETWEEN THE PIPES
Petr Mrazek will likely be the starter for the Red Wings tonight, as rookie Jared Coreau suffered the 5-3 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins on Saturday night. Mrazek will take the ice holding a record of 6-5-3 while holding a 2.83 goals-against average and a .907 save percentage, though the goalie is 2-0-2 in his last four starts.