The Islanders are in Buffalo, where the goalies are fresh off the vine.
The Isles begin the night in third place — by only a point ahead of the Bruins — and trailing the Capitals and Penguins by two and four points, respectively. The Capitals have injury and discipline concerns, so perhaps they are vulnerable as they visit the Rangers.
So to recap: No Kuznetsov or Samsonov tonight for the Capitals. Both late to a team function, out for disciplinary reasons.
Ovechkin and Carlson are still game-time decisions with lower-body injuries.
Oshie is out (personal/family matter).
Vanecek in net, Anderson backing up.
— Samantha Pell (@SamanthaJPell) May 3, 2021
So, no guarantee that the Isles will move up to a home ice slot in the playoff chase even if they win all the games they should, but they at least have a chance. And it’s worth a try; you may have heard, the Isles do rather well playing at the Coliseum.
Anyway, every East Division playoff team is playing a non-playoff counterpart tonight. But none of them have as decimated of a goaltending situation as the Sabres do.
We have recalled goaltender Michael Houser and signed goaltender Stefanos Lekkas to a professional tryout contract.
We have also reassigned forward C.J. Smith to the taxi squad and forward Jean-Sebastien Dea to @AmerksHockey.
— Buffalo Sabres (@BuffaloSabres) May 3, 2021
The 28-year-old American Michael Houser, an OHL product with many years of AHL and ECHL experience, will make his NHL debut for the Sabres tonight. That’s very cool, for him. That’s also the kind of situation where, if these were the old Islanders, we’d all be saying “definite shutout for the unknown goalie then.”
Instead, with a team that has now made the playoffs in three consecutive seasons, only 90% of us are saying that.
In truth, I hope Houser does reasonably well, but still picks up a regulation loss, and has many stories to tell. The Isles (we think) need the points.