The Isles will try to end their four-game slide in Carolina tonight where Eric Staal and the Hurricanes are battling a two-game skid of their own. Both squads will show off some of the top young skaters tonight with rookie Jeff Skinner currently leading the Canes in the scoring department. Here are three keys to spy when the puck drops.
Hey, Look! Someone's Healthy!
Formerly injured center Rob Schremp will make his season debut tonight after battling a bum back. On the sidelines he missed out on the team's early success and has been unable to help when things started to sour four games ago. Expect him to come out with a lot of energy between Josh Bailey and Blake Comeau on the second line tonight. And did someone say line combinations?
New Look Lines
With Schremp's return, head coach Scott Gordon will roll out some new line combos. According to Chris Botta of Islanders Point Blank, here's how they looked at practice:
Moulson - Tavares - Parenteau
Bailey - Schremp - Comeau
Weight - Nielsen - Grabner
Martin - Konopka - Hunter/Gillies
Perhaps the changes will wake up Bailey and Comeau who have been quiet lately. Bailey in particular has no points and is averaging just one shot on goal since returning from the hip pointer he sustained against the Maple Leafs Oct. 18. Comeau's been getting his shot off, but he's also sporting a minus-5 rating over the past three contests.
The Islanders should have a big edge in the faceoff circle tonight considering the Canes are flat out awful on the draw. Through their first 11 games, Carolina has claimed just 37.4 percent of their faceoffs. Look for the Isles to own the time of possession edge tonight. And if they can turn that edge into offense, look for them to put their losing streak behind them.