Islanders Head To Detroit To Begin Season Defining Trip

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NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 04: Anders Lee #27 of the New York Islanders (R) scores at 5:16 of the first period against Petr Mrazek #34 of the Detroit Red Wings at the Barclays Center on December 4, 2016 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images) 768w, 1024w, 333w" sizes="(max-width: 627px) 100vw, 627px" />

New York Islanders  (27-21-10) @  Detroit Red Wings(24-25-10)

When: February 21st, 2107
Where: Joe Louis Arena, Detroit, MI
Time: 7:30 PM EST
TV: MSG+2 (Brendan Burke, Butch Goring)
Radio: AM 970, WRHU 88.7 FM and WRCN 103.9 FM (Chris King, Greg Picker)

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The Islanders head to Joe Louis Arena tonight to begin a make-or-break road trip. The franchise long nine-game road swing will show us something about the Islanders. Come out of it with more points won, than lost, and the team could be the odds-on-favorite for the eight spot in the East. Come out with only two or three wins, and the Islanders could find themselves back in a similar hole to the one they just climbed out of.  The Islanders are 7-13-4 on the road. If they want to have any chance at a playoff spot, that has to improve.

“We’re going to change some things as far as our day, as far as the night before,” Coach Doug Weight said. “When I start talking about the other team, maybe some video stuff, but it’ll be deeper than that when the game starts.”

The Islanders, who have 64 points, start the trip just two points out of the second Wild Card spot in the East.  Five other teams besides the Islanders- Toronto, Philadelphia, Buffalo, Tampa Bay and New Jersey – are all within six points of that playoff spot.

The Islanders are getting a little bit healthier. Cal Clutterbuck, who has been in and out of the lineup for the last month with a lower body injury, returns tonight. He has missed the last nine games. “It’s going to be great to have him back. Our injured guys are starting to trickle back,” Weight said. “We’re playing so well that we’re going to have some tough lineup choices ahead of us.” It’s not clear who will sit for Clutterbuck, but the choices are likely Alan Quine, Stephen Gionta, or Anthony Beauvillier. We will find out, but it’s most likely Gionta, despite his stellar play.

Weight is happy to have one of his key players back in the lineup. “He possesses a great shot, he has fire for the game, he brings life to our bench and he’s a vocal leader,” Weight said. “You’re missing Travis Hamonic and him, that’s two of your assistant captains, so it’s good to get him back.”

Another thing the Islanders have going for them, as they head out on the road, is the play of their forwards. Anders Lee and Jason Chimera especially remain red hot, with Andrew Ladd, Ryan Strome, and John Tavares not too far behind. If the Isles can get going early, they really can use that energy to their advantage, and put away the Wings earl

Unfortunately, in their last three road losses the Isles have gotten off to a horrible start. They have fallen behind 3-0 in each game. They almost clawed back against New Jersey, but fell just short. They cannot afford to do that again this time. Every game, every point is so crucial in this stretch. The Islanders have to bring their “A” game every night. While a win would not technically put them in the eight spot (due to ROW), it will put them in a virtual tie for the spot, and put pressure on the other teams they are competing with.

The Wings are down near the bottom of the Eastern Conference, ahead of only Carolina. Fortunately for the Hurricanes, they have played four less games than the Red Wings. With such a tightly packed race, the Islanders must take advantage of teams that trail them. They have every opportunity to gain two points tonight.

This is the Isles’ 54th and final trip to the Joe Louis Arena. The Isles’ are 22-29-2 all time in Detroit. They have never faced each other in the playoffs.

In goal, Petr Mrazek will face Thomas Greiss.

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