Ladies and gentlemen: tonight’s game features not one, but two teams terrible enough to have to resort to trading Thomas Vanek! I bet if he’s watching, he is hoping that both teams beat each other senseless, and that the roof collapses right as the final horn sounds, killing everyone on the ice.
Now there’s a happy thought!
Tonight’s Opponent: The New York Islanders
Record: 25-33-9, 59 pts.
Standings: Fourteenth in the Eastern Conference
Current Streak: Won one
Ok – I seriously doubt Thomas Vanek wants anything bad to happen to these two teams. In fact, he should be grateful to these two organizations. After all, neither the Sabres nor the Islanders are headed to the playoffs this season, whereas Vanek’s new team, the Montreal Canadiens, currently sit in the fifth spot in the East. As much as he probably doesn’t enjoy having been traded twice in one season, I imagine he’s thrilled to know that he won’t be a part of this game!
The Islanders made a risky move when they traded Matt Moulson to Buffalo for Thomas Vanek. Obviously, GM Garth Snow thought Vanek would be an upgrade over Moulson, and that such a trade would help transform the Islanders from a team that was happy just to make the playoffs into a team that could do some serious damage in the race for Lord Stanley’s Cup.
That gamble wasn’t paying off as the team headed into the Olympic break (the Islanders were in 14th place with 59 points at point, and were 3-6-1 in their last 10 games heading into the break), and to add injury to insult (yes, I know that’s not how it usually goes!), New York saw its star player, John Tavares, suffer a season-ending injury in team Canada’s quarterfinal game in the Olympics. The slim hopes New York had of making the playoffs died right then and there, and now the Islanders find themselves without much punch on offense, having been outscored by 41 points on the season.
The Islanders still have some exciting talent, notably Kyle Okposo, who really played well last year against Pittsburgh in the playoffs and is building off of that success by having the best season of his career by far. His 26 goals and 41 assists are both career-bests, and he’s proving that he is a legitimate threat even without Tavares, as he has notched 6 points in his last 5 games. Frans Nielsen (21-27-48) is also having a career season, and he, too, has been stepping up in Tavares’ absence, having scored 5 points in his last 5 games.
So it isn’t all bad news for the Islanders . . . but they’re still terrible, so I hope you bought a lot of beer in anticipation of St. Patrick’s Day. Yo may need to crack a few suds open to make it through this game!