You have to wind the clock all of the way back to October 14, 2019, to see the last Blues game against the Islanders in New York. Ahh, a simpler time. Practically a Pepperidge Farm ad.
Much has changed in that time, at least for the Islanders. On the outside of playoff contention looking in for the first time in a few seasons, the Isles at least have a new building to finally crow about. After years of the Nassau Coliseum, and then playing in Barclay’s Center - a venue very much not made for hockey - and then back to Nassau, the Islanders have a shiny new home in the UBS Arena. They’re a storied franchise, and it’s nice to see them get the arena that they deserve after so many years of playing second-fiddle to the New York Rangers.
The Rangers played the Blues - in a few meanings of the word - on Wednesday night. Despite falling 5-3 and ruining Pavel Buchnevich’s homecoming, the Blues’ forwards put on a show. David Perron finished with a goal and an assist, his third goal and fourth assist in the last five games. Ivan Barbashev tacked another goal onto his career-high season and his seventh point in his last five. Ryan O’Reilly also added a goal and an assist, his fourth points in five games.
Defensively, the team stumbled, but head coach Craig Berube isn’t in a position to make adjustments there. Will the forwards get scrambled up today? The Islanders may be a bit less of a threat without Mathew Barzal, out with a lower body injury in their 4-3 loss to the Canucks on Thursday, but if they decide to go with upstart goaltender Ilya Sorokin. New York has the market cornered on hot Russian goaltenders, and both teams owe much of their recent success to their netminders. Sorokin’s first season last year was attention grabbing, and his .922 SV% is an improvement on his rookie year. The Islanders struggles have not been in net - and much of their poor record this year and current sixth place standing in the Metro is due to the team’s second longest historical losing streak in November.
Today’s another day where the Blues can’t afford to be asleep at puck drop and - with an 11:30 start time - neither can you.