The Isles and Devils clash for the second time this season, with the loser taking sole possession of the NHL basement. It's hard to believe both of these teams are in the cellar at this point in the season, but one of them will have chance to stay out of it for the holidays with two points Thursday night. Here are four factors to watch for when the puck drops in Newark.
The Islanders finally recalled Josh Bailey from the Bridgeport Sound Tigers after his surprise demotion in November. Not surprisingly, the prime prospect produced in bunches during his AHL stint, racking up 17 points in 11 games. He had struggled badly, failing to record a point in 13 straight games before being sent down. In his first game back with the big club on Wednesday he put two shots on goal in just under 18 minutes of ice time. We'll see if he can get that elusive point Thursday.
You Don't Score, Until You Score
The Devils went goalless in their first meeting with the Isles, a 2-0 loss Nov. 26. In that contest Rick DiPietro turned aside all New Jersey shooters, but the Islander netminder is currently sidelined with swelling in his knee. Dwayne Roloson picked up the win Wednesday night against Tampa Bay, so it will be interesting to see if the Isles roll with Roloson two nights in a row or if they turn to Nathan Lawson, who tended the nets in Saturday's shootout loss to Phoenix.
First One to One Wins?
The Devils and the Islanders represent the two lowest scoring teams in the NHL, so expect a pitchers duel Thursday night. New Jersey has gone three straight games with just a single goal to their credit and have failed to light the lamp more than once in six of their last nine games.
No, Seriously, First One to One Might Win
As you would expect from the two lowest scoring teams in the league, neither squad particularly excels at mounting a comeback. The Devils have a winning percentage of just .105 percent when trailing after the first period. The Isles? They're even worse at .053 percent. The moral of this statistical story? Come out quickly, because the first 20 minutes will dictate a lot about this game.