Islanders Website/AP: Has tonight's early preview against the Atlanta Thrashers.
NYI Fan Central Comments:
A lot of speculation across the board going into this game for both clubs. Kari Lehtonen either plays tonight or tomorrow against the Devils, the Thrashers have lost three straight games and the jump from the coaching change seems to be fading so they will be a desperate team looking to score early and often to put pressure on the Isles.
From Ted Nolan's comments on ITV he is considering Dubielewicz for this game but even with a rest the upcoming schedule is very tough. Does the coach continue to use Bergeron and Berard and go with ten forwards or does Sean Bergenheim return to the lineup? Bergeron and Berard have both played well on defense in the recent games, Bergenheim seems the best long-term answer as a top six forward, despite Richard Park's hard work but will have to earn his minutes to be used in that role again.
Ilya Kovalchuk is the league's first player to reach 20 goals and has scored six of the Thrashers' 17 goals over the last seven games so he will be very tough to match up against. Bill Guerin has to finish some plays, get to the front of the net along with most of the forwards. It's time for the Islanders to finally have a break out offensive game because no club can survive much longer scoring two goals or less a game without going into a long losing streak.
No easy solutions for Ted Nolan here. These are professional players and have to produce or they need other players. I know Shawn Bates and Andy Hilbert are signed through next season but if Ben Walter, Tambellini, Blake Comeau and Bergenheim have more talent and potential it's time to take a chance and hopefully they can play defense at this level, even if it's not as good as Hilbert plays defense or how hard he works in the corners.
Jeff Tambellini seems to have hit a wall in Bridgeport on a struggling club, he is taking penalties down there and he is a minus player far too often. Maybe they need to give him minutes here now for better or worse.
Trent Hunter would always come up here after playing well in Bridgeport, struggle and go back down, but finally the organization decided to pull him out of Bridgeport where he was struggling at the time and give him a full time role and it worked.
Lot's of questions, the schedule provides no easy answers and for the Islanders to win tonight they have to generate some goals and some pressure to force mistakes by the opposition. No doubt Andy Sutton will want to make an impression against his old team tonight.