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Ice Breakers: Bruins-Islanders, Thursday December 9th

The Bruins (15-8-3) continue their homestand at TD Garden this evening, hosting the worst team in the NHL, the New York Islanders (5-15-5).

Things don’t get much worse for the Islanders and their fans, if they have any fans left. The team started with a surprising 4-1-2 mark after their first seven games, actually showing some promise and potential to kick off the season. Since then, New York has won just once in their last 18 games, a dismal 1-14-3 stretch. Their epic slump cost head coach Scott Gordon his job, but really, he had to be somewhat relieved to get out of that mess. Since Gordon’s departure, interim coach Jack Capuano has guided the Isles to a 1-5-2 record… nothing to write home about, obviously.

On the other side of the ice tonight, Boston looks to gain some ground on the division-leading Montreal Canadiens. Montreal has a five-point advantage over the B’s for the Northeast Division’s top spot. The Bruins have managed to take at least a point from every game this month, a 3-0-1 stretch that includes their 3-2 overtime win Tuesday over the Buffalo Sabres. Just over two minutes into the extra time, Mark Recchi tipped a Dennis Seidenberg shot past Buffalo goalie Ryan Miller, but referees did not rule it a goal at the time. After a lengthy review once play stopped, the call was correctly overturned, giving the B’s the victory.

This one has all the makings of a “gimme game” for the Black & Gold, but you know what that means… they’ll probably find a way to either blow it, or keep fans on the edge of their seats in a nail-biter. Either way, let’s get you ready for tonight’s Garden party with some pre-game notes…

  • The news was not good regarding defenseman Mark Stuart. Stuart, who skating but a few shifts in the first period Tuesday before exiting to the dressing room, was diagnosed with a broken right ring finger after the game. The injury, said Stuart, actually occurred last Thursday in a game against Tampa Bay. Since then, he’s experienced discomfort with the finger, but he said Tuesday, the finger just gave way early on in the contest. The injury will likely cost Stuart 4-6 weeks of action.
  • In place of Mark Stuart, youngster Steve Kampfer will make his NHL debut tonight for the B’s. Kampfer, who came to the Bruins from Anaheim back in March, in exchange for a 4th round pick, is an undersized puck-moving defenseman, a lot like former Bruin Matt Hunwick. In fact, Hunwick and Kampfer manned the blue line together for one season as their college careers overlapped at the University of Michigan. Kampfer was recalled yesterday from Providence, where had three goals and 13 assists through their first 20 games this season. Kampfer will wear uniform #47 for the big club.
  • Let’s also give a quick Marco Sturm update. Sturm is still with the Bruins, skating and practicing with the team as a spare part right now. The German-born winger says he’s about 10-14 days away from returning to game action, but at this point, no one is thinking that his return will be made in a Bruins uniform. Sturm was rumored to be heading to the Kings at this time last week, and that may still happen. The Kings are looking to add some offense at the wing position, and haven’t done so yet, leaving the door open to revisit a deal with Boston for Sturm. Until then however, Sturm is left in limbo, waiting to hear his fate, while trying to focus on getting healthy again.
  • The wingers on Boston’s top line have hit a hot streak lately, as both Milan Lucic and Nathan Horton continue to go back and forth, battling for the team’s top spot in points. Lucic currently sits at the top of the team’s stat sheet, with 13 goals and ten assists on the year, compared to Horton’s 10 goals and 12 assists. Lucic has three goals and two assists in his last five games, while Horton has a pair of goals and a pair of assists in his last two contests.
  • A little more about Lucic’s fast start… Tuesday, Milan lit the lamp for the 13th time this season. That puts him just four goals away from matching his previous career-high mark of 17, set two seasons ago for the B’s. Needless to say, there’s little doubt he’ll blow that mark out of the water this year.
  • Ok, enough about our favorite team… let’s shift our sights to the Islanders, the league’s joke of a hockey team. The Isles are coming off a 3-2 loss to the Flyers this past Sunday, in a game that saw them blow a 2-1 third period lead. With four more scoreless power play opportunities in that game, the Islanders are now a dreadful 0-for-36 on the man-advantage in their last 11 games.
  • New York’s scoring is led by defenseman James Wisniewski (2G, 13A). Behind him are four guys, all tied with 14 points a piece.
  • In goal, veteran Dwayne Roloson (2-11-1, 2.50GAA) shoulders the brunt of the workload for the Islanders, while highly overpaid Rick Dipietro (3-4-4, 3.76GAA) contributes to the team’s lack of success every once in a while.
  • New York has a boat load of injury issues, starting with forwards Kyle Okposo (shoulder) and Trent Hunter (torn MCL), both on injured reserve. Also on IR right now are a trio of blue liners; Mark Streit (shoulder), Mike Mottau (eye), and former Bruin, Milan Jurcina (hamstring). Veteran forward Doug Weight (back spasms) and defenseman Bruno Gervais (broken cheekbone) are listed as day-to-day.

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