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Islanders vs. Devils – 7PM February 16th

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Happy ‘Hockey Weekend Across America’ everyone. It’s game day once again.  And . . . . on tap are the Devils once again.  After tonight, the Islanders will only face the Conference leading Devils one more time; on April 1st.

Looking back: The Islanders have only won 1 of the previous 3 meetings with  the Devils so far in the abbreviated ’12-’13 season.  And that win came in OT on the road at the Prudential Center on January 31st.  As much as the Isles were due for a win at MSG a couple nights past, they are due for a win at home against the Devils.  On the whole, the Islanders have won only 1 of 5 home games at the Coliseum thus far in ’12-’13.

Significant changes: Adam Henrique is back, and since he has been back his line is responsible for 26 points in 9 games.  The once (and perhaps still) boring Devils are somewhat exciting as they roll multiple lines that are scoring goals.

If the Islanders are going to win they will need to . . .

1) Figure out Hedberg.  He is again getting the start against the Isles tonight.  A team who he has befuddled and frustrated for some time now.  His most recent body of work against the Isles came in the form a a 3-0 shutout on February 3rd at the Coliseum that kicked off the Isles 5 game losing streak.

2) Neutralize the Elias-Henrique-Clarkson line.  They have something like 26 points in the 9 games since Henrique came back.  Wacko numbers.  Not sure when Clarkson became a billion-goals scoring machine.  Anyone?

3) Score first and score early.  Keeping the momentum going from the Thursday night ‘upset’ at the Garden would do wonders for the the young-ish and struggling Islanders squad.

Final thoughts: I expect Tavares (he of the Unicorn-horn-hair) to continue his pungent offensive output tonight.  Additionally, Capuano was pretty happy with the C. McDonald-Cizikas-Martin line against the Rangers, so much so that they were being double shifted in the 3rd period.  It will be interesting to see if they can keep up the energy and pressure the Devils in their end and force some things to happen.

I can be reached on the world wide web at tobysmithny@yahoo.com and on the Twitter via @tobysmithny.