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NEW YORK — The New York Islanders know Thursday night will be their final home game of the season as well as the last time they call Barclays Center their sole home.
But the most important bit of information remains unknown [url=http://www.raiderscheapstore.com/giorgio-tavecchio-jersey-cheap]Giorgio Tavecchio Jersey[/url] , and will likely remain a mystery for almost three more months: Will Thursday night also be the final time John Tavares suits up at home for the Islanders?
An uncertain future will overshadow the waning days of a disappointing season Thursday night when the Islanders host the New York Rangers in a battle of teams playing out the string.
Both teams were off Wednesday after playing Tuesday. The host Islanders edged the Philadelphia Flyers 5-4 while the visiting Rangers fell to the New Jersey Devils 5-2.
The local rivals will be playing for nothing more than pride and the opportunity to avoid finishing in last place Thursday, when the Rangers (34-37-9) will take the ice one point ahead of the Islanders. This is only the sixth time since the Islanders (33-37-10) joined the NHL in 1972-73 that both teams will miss the playoffs.
Soon, the Islanders will find out if failing to reach the postseason for the second straight season and the short-term uncertainty of their arena situation are enough to drive Tavares away from the only team for which he’s played.
Tavares, whom the Islanders selected with the first overall pick of the 2009 draft, is scheduled to reach free agency July 1. And while his attendance at press conferences earlier this season announcing the Islanders’ plans to build a new arena on Long Island and to split the next three seasons between Barclays Center and Nassau Coliseum (the team’s old home) could be construed as good signs for his future in New York, he has offered no hints one way or the other as the season has spiraled downward.
The Islanders are just 8-17-5 since the All-Star break and have just one winning streak of longer than two games since November.
“Obviously, the season will end on Saturday,” Tavares told reporters following practice Wednesday. “I want to go about it the right way and be the best captain I can be. When the time is right, it will all come to fruition and it will all be over at the same time. It’s gotten to this point now. I can’t say how it’s going to go going forward.”
The Rangers, who are winless in five games (0-4-1) at Barclays Center, will not be sad to see the Islanders exit Brooklyn. Lately [url=http://www.saintscheapstore.com/tyeler-davison-jersey-cheap]Tyeler Davison Jersey[/url] , the Islanders have thrived against the Rangers regardless of locale, going 8-1-2 against their closest rival since the start of the 2015-16 season.
“Obviously, we haven’t had a lot of success against the Islanders,” head coach Alain Vigneault told Newsday following practice Wednesday. “It’d be good for us to change that, and we’re getting an opportunity tomorrow to do that.”
Islanders goalie Jaroslav Halak will likely get a chance to continue his mastery against the Rangers, who will start backup netminder Ondrej Pavelec.
Halak has sat the last three games — his most recent action was March 27, when he recorded 33 saves and earned the win in a 4-3 victory over the Ottawa Senators — but is 17-7-0 in 25 career games against the Rangers, including 3-0-0 this year and 10-3-0 since joining the Islanders prior to the 2014-15 season.
Pavelec hasn’t played since last Friday, when he took the defeat after recording 43 saves in the Rangers’ 7-3 loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning. He is 4-8-3 in 15 career games against the Islanders.
All-Pro defensive tackle Aaron Donald is not attending the Los Angeles Rams' mandatory minicamp while he continues his lengthy quest for a lucrative new contract.
Donald wasn't on the field with his teammates for the Rams' first minicamp workout Tuesday, and he wasn't at their training complex for their off-field commitments Monday, either. The NFL Defensive Player of the Year also skipped the Rams' voluntary workout program over the previous two months.
"He's in a good place [url=http://www.patriotscheapstore.com/patrick-chung-jersey-cheap]Patrick Chung Jersey[/url] ," Rams coach Sean McVay said Tuesday. "Would we want him to be here? Yeah, we'd love to have Aaron here. But it's kind of the same where it's been. We're just focusing on the guys that are here, but we're always in constant dialogue with Aaron and his group, and would like to come to a solution. When that's going to happen, it's hard to say."
Donald is home in Pittsburgh during the Rams' offseason work for the second straight year, but he reported to last season's mandatory minicamp to avoid a potential fine. This year, Donald doesn't appear to be concerned about losing money by missing minicamp while he strives to become one of the NFL's highest-paid players.
The defending NFC West champion Rams haven't indicated whether they intend to fine Donald for missing the camp, but his absence wasn't a surprise. The team could fine him more than $84,000 for missing this camp, but it waived much larger fines incurred by Donald last year when he skipped the entirety of training camp.
"When I spoke with him last week, I said [url=http://www.chargerscheapstore.com/jatavis-brown-jersey-cheap]Jatavis Brown Jersey[/url] , 'If there's not a solution to this by next week, will you be here?'" McVay said. "He said, 'I'm going to stay back at home, continue training.'"
Donald is due to make nearly $6.9 million this season in the fifth year of his rookie contract. The team agrees he deserves a raise after turning in four dominant seasons as the cornerstone of the Rams' defense, yet the Rams and Donald's representatives still haven't made a deal after many months of talking.
The 27-year-old Donald doesn't have extensive leverage in the negotiation because the Rams theoretically could keep him for another three seasons through 2021 under a franchise tag. Neither side has disclosed their contract proposals, but Donald is widely thought to be seeking a contract big enough to make him one of the top-paid players at any position, with a salary comparable to the wages of the NFL's better quarterbacks.
The Rams have managed to maintain a positive relationship with Donald even after he skipped training camp and the entire preseason schedule last summer. He reported to the team shortly before the regular season began, missing the first game.
The four-time Pro Bowl selection also skipped most of the Rams' offseason program and organized team activities last year. Although he showed up for last season's mandatory minicamp, he didn't participate in the team drills, instead doing individual work and staying on the sidelines.
Donald is expected to be the foundation of a standout defensive line alongside Rams newcomer Ndamukong Suh, who agreed to a one-year [url=http://www.packerscheapstore.com/quinten-rollins-jersey-cheap]Quinten Rollins Jersey[/url] , $14 million deal in the offseason.
Donald is missing several weeks of work with the Rams' revamped defense, which also added star cornerbacks Aqib Talib and Marcus Peters while losing three veteran leaders: Trumaine Johnson, Robert Quinn and captain Alec Ogletree.
The new Rams don't seem worried about missing these chances to build chemistry while establishing new leaders in the locker room.
"He's the MVP, so we know what he's going to do when he gets here," Talib said. "Everybody is just going to be themselves. If you're a leader, it's going to happen naturally. Nobody has to go out of their way to be a leader, go out of their way to hoorah and just yell stuff out. Everybody will just be themselves."
NOTES: Donald is the only player unaccounted for at minicamp, McVay confirmed. ... McVay is canceling Thursday's scheduled practice and taking his team on a tour of the franchise's under-construction stadium in Inglewood, California. The Rams and the Los Angeles Chargers will open the multibillion-dollar Hollywood Park stadium complex in 2020.
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