The New York Islanders have the misfortune of having to face the Dallas Stars without starting goaltender Jaroslav Halak and top-four defenseman Johnny Boychuk, who are both injured. High-energy forward Cal Clutterbuck is also expected to be out of the lineup. Taking on the league's top team without some key players is not the best way to break out of a stretch where they've lost five of their last eight games including one Satruday night.
One of the fun little games within the game is the matchup between Benn and John Tavares. The two captains were the top two scorers in the league last year. In fact, Benn collected four points on the last day of the season to snatch the scoring title away from the Isles skipper. There's quite a bit of distance between the two this season, though. Benn is second in the league with 52 points, while Tavares ranks 42nd with 29 points, which does lead the Islanders.
When it comes to the overall matchup, this is a tough one for the Isles. Though the Stars are dealing with some injuries of their own – Valeri Nichushkin is unlikely to play and Ales Hemsky is out – they're not as big as the ones that New York is dealing with, particularly Boychuk's injury. As important as it will be for the Isles to nab two points to try to keep some distance between themselves and the rival New York Rangers for second place in the Metropolitan, this may not be the night to get them.
We've seen how well the Stars have responded to losses in their next game all year. Expect their top players, especially Benn and Seguin who were held without a point Saturday, to kick things up a notch and give New York all it can handle.