The Canucks have a little business to take care of first while the Islanders will be ready and waiting to rock the UBS Arena for their new teammate Bo Horvat against his former mates on Thursday night.
The Isles will have Wednesday off after back-to-back wins against the Philadelphia Flyers on Monday night 2-1 and the Seattle Kraken on Tuesday night 4-0. They’re feeling pretty good about themselves, having jumped back into Eastern Conference playoff contention with four straight victories sandwiched around the NHL All-Star break.
Horvat tallied his first goal with his new team against the Kraken, New York’s fourth of the night and his career-high 32nd of the season. He signed an eight-year, $68-million contract with the Islanders last week following his trade from Vancouver on January 30th.
Meanwhile, first things first for the Canucks.
They have a date with the New York Rangers on Wednesday night at Madison Square Garden. Last year on February 27th it was a fun visit for Vancouver and head coach Bruce Boudreau. Tyler Myers scored his only goal of the season as the Canucks beat the Blueshirts 5-2, part of a road trip that saw them win four of five games out east. They had plowed their way back into Western Conference playoff contention.
How times have changed.
This time around, under new head coach Rick Tocchet and out of the playoff picture, the Canucks are essentially scouting their own players and spreading some valuable ice time around while trying to establish a new culture.
There were positive signs of improved chemistry and resilience on Monday night when Vancouver came back from down 4-1 to force overtime in an eventual 5-4 loss to the New Jersey Devils. They picked up very rare goals from defenceman Luke Schenn and forwards Curtis Lazar and Phil Di Giuseppe.
It was Di Giuseppe’s first goal as a Vancouver Canuck in just his second ever game with the big club. He’s spent 75 games with the Canucks AHL affiliate in Abbotsford over the last two seasons.
New York, New York. The glitz of MSG one night, an emotional battle the next.