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After more than a year, the Islanders will finally square off against a Western Conference opponent.Since the 2004 Lockout, inter-conference games had been squeezed out of the schedule in favor of divisional play. In July 2005, the league decided to play eight games per season against each divisional opponent and many inter-conference games were eliminated to make room for it. Not every team would play every team from the opposing conference every season as had previously been the case.Last year during the shortened season, the inter-conference games were tossed out the window entirely.After Lockout Part Deux we're back to how things used to be. Each team plays every other team twice, once at home and once on the road and divisional games are back down to four per opponent.It was almost a little weird briefly watching some hockey after the Jets game last night. The Devils were in Edmonton and the Rangers played in Los Angeles, two match ups that are very rare. It's almost like getting used to interleague baseball, where you get these weird match ups that you don't normally expect.Tonight, the Islanders face their first Western Conference opponent since the end of the 2011-12 season tonight as the Coyotes come to town. Last time they squared off against a Western Conference team was in a 7-3 loss April 7th, 2012 in Columbus, to be exact.Lots of Talk About ClutterbuckThe morning papers all wrote about Cal Clutterbuck and even the Daily News weighs in with rare practice day Islander coverage!Edit, update: Also, let's play spot the errors in the Daily News lede:[sny-box]"The Islanders will play their second-to-last home opener at Nassau Colesium [sic] Tuesday..."[/sny-box]Newsday seems to think the Griffin Reinhart scenario is the most likely and also gets bonus points for being the only one to use the phrase "23-man roster." Rather importantly, this is a roster decision first and a lineup decision second.Capuano, of course, mum on whether Reinhart is the one to go:[sny-box]"We don't really have a timetable for Griffin," Capuano said. "As long as he's here, learning the pace of how we practice and what we do, we think it's beneficial for him."[/sny-box]The Post notes that Pierre-Marc Bouchard could be a candidate to sit, as he hasn't contributed much over the first two games but warns that sitting a veteran so early is a recipe for pissing people off:[sny-box]If Capuano was to be a little more bold — and also take the chance of ruffling feathers by benching a veteran this early in the season — he could sit newcomer Pierre-Marc Bouchard, who started training camp alongside John Tavares on the top line yet has played his way into a role on a third line with Peter Regin and Nelson.“My discussions with [Bouchard] are that he needs to be a little tougher on pucks, a little stronger on pucks,” Capuano said. “He’s a guy that has good vision, good skater, is crafty, sees the ice real well. … He’s got that offensive instinct, that hopefully that’s going to break out here and we’ll see that soon.”[/sny-box]Needs to play a little harder, a little smarter. More Capuano hockey.In case you missed it, this Zach Bogosian gif of his gaffe against the Ducks the other night is quite something:The more you watch it, the more your notice. Keep an eye on Corey Perry's stick twitching as the puck comes towards him. It looks as if he knows exactly how hard he's going to bury the puck and can't contain his excitement for it to get to his stick.Here's a retro video of a Coyotes trip to the Island back in 2007: finally...Two minutes for "you can't do that."
Tags: Islanders, cal clutterbuck , Kevin Schultz
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