Despite winter storm Nemo dumping huge amounts of snow all over the northeastern segment of the country, the New York Islanders are still set to play the Buffalo Sabres tonight at 7 p.m. in the Nassau Coliseum as advertised.
This is the only Islanders home game of the season between the two teams, who are in different divisions despite being located in the same state. Both teams are struggling right now: the Islanders have a 4-5-1 record and the Sabres have a 4-6-1 record, though the Islanders are up somewhat higher in the conference standings.
Last season, New York found a fairly good measure of success against Buffalo, notching a 2-1-1 record in the four-game series and nabbing five of a possible eight points. Watch out for Thomas Vanek, though. He’s currently in the league lead for goals (10) and points (21). He’s scored in all but one of the Sabres’ games so far this season and was especially potent against the Philadelphia Flyers and Boston Bruins, putting up five points in single games against both of those teams.
Look for Lubomir Visnovsky to join the Islanders lineup for the first time this season. He’s skating at an optional morning skate with many of his teammates and was practicing yesterday too. He’s thankful that the organization was sympathetic to the reason why he needed to report a little later, which did indeed have to do with his son.
“I think those who know me and those who understand me and those who have a family will understand why I did what I did,” he said. He only felt comfortable enough to come over and play after many different doctors reassured him that his son was alright.
If he produces and fits in well for the Isles, it could help fill in a gap that coach Jack Capuano has seen: his team’s defensemen don’t score a lot. Only two blueliners, Mark Streit and Travis Hamonic, have more than one point to their names right now.
The Islanders are also pretty adept at killing penalties. Their nearly 88 percent penalty kill efficiency puts them in fifth place in the entire league. Buffalo is much further down the list, doing away with about 78 percent of their penalties successfully. Both teams have power plays that leave something to be desired, though, and are only middling in their efficiency.
Though tough guy Matt Carkner is still out for the Islanders with injury, Matt Martin should be in and he has prior with the Sabres: he fought Mike Weber in the teams’ most recent meeting before tonight.
So, for all those in the areas affected by the storm, warm up with some hockey tonight–or, if you want to go to the Coliseum, at least be careful!