The New York Islanders continue their fight for a playoff spot as they play host to the visiting Southeast Division leading Winnipeg Jets.
The Islanders, having went 3-1 on their recent road trip, look to keep the fire going at home Tuesday night. While impressive on the road, boasting an 11-5-1 record, they have struggled mightily at home posting a 6-11-2 mark. Even mediocre home ice play and the Isles are comfortably in the Stanley Cup chase.
As of now, the Isles are still deadlocked with the New York Rangers, who have a game in hand over the Isles, at 37 points. Both teams find themselves two points behind the 7th place New Jersey Devils.
The New York Islanders were active on the first day of free agency when they signed Brad Boyes, Matt Carkner, and Eric Boulton, but the team has lost a couple of players that Islanders fans have grown to know over the past NHL seasons. (Clydeorama/Flickr)
While P.A Parenteau signed on with the Colorado Avalanche, the Winnipeg Jets and Al Montoya came to terms on a one year deal worth $601,000. Montoya's departure might have upset some fans that grew accustomed to the goalie as he put up impressive numbers in 21 games during the Isles' 2010-2011 NHL season. However, injury and inconsistency plagued Montoya during the 2011-2012 NHL season as he performed to the tune of a 9-11-5 record, 3.11 GAA, and .893 Save Percentage.
I am going to start off by saying that this is not another Rick DiPietro blog. We all know the story; he will continue to be part of the New York Islanders' plans as long as he is physically able to wear goalie pads and the organization will continue to support him to the very end of this long, exhausting road to recovery. However, there are two goaltending prospects that are going to be competing hard for the back-up position behind Evgeni Nabokov, who is the clear cut starter for the 2013 season.
Kevin Poulin and Anders Nilsson were sharing time with the Bridgeport Sound Tigers of the AHL for most of the 2012 year with the exception of some short-lived NHL time with the Isles. In 49 games played, Poulin went 26-18-4 with a 2.79 GAA with a .912 save percentage. His partner Nilsson was 15-8-2 in 25 games played and sported a 2.42 GAA with a .921 save percentage. Nilsson, who is a padded giant at 6'5, is still getting adjusted to the professional game and learning how to play on a smaller rink after being more accustomed to the Swedish Elite League. Poulin has now spent close to two full years developing with the Islanders and looks like he might be the most ready to make it to the NHL.
After allowing seven goals in an onslaught of a hockey game, the final buzzer at the Nationwide Arena would not only sound the ending of a massacre, but also signify the end of what was a disappointing season for the New York Islanders.
It was a disappointing year for many reasons. With the rebuild entering its fourth season, many expected this team's fortunes to change. For plenty, that meant making the playoffs instead of falling into the draft lottery. For yours truly, that meant climbing out of the cellar but not high enough to reach 8th place. I am sad to say that we were both wrong. The Islanders finished the year out of the playoffs and 27th overall in the league, giving them the fourth overall pick going into Tuesday night's draft lottery for the second year in a row.
On paper you can call the 2012 season just the same as any other. At 14th place in the Eastern Conference, the Isles finished the season with a 34-37-11 record with 79 points. That's only a six point improvement over last season and the SAME exact record as the year before that in 2010. It would almost appear that the rebuild has established a trend of not going up or down, but rather staying put.
The Islanders make their last visit to New Jersey this season on Tuesday night. As the season winds down and the playoffs officially out of reach the Islanders will look for positives for next season out of every game. The Islanders will also look to rebound back from the last minute lost to the Devils the last time these two teams meet.
One thing to watch for in this game is the NHL debut of Matt Donovan. The defenseman has had a very good season for the Sound Tigers were he scored 42 points (10 goals and 32 assists) in 69 games this season. This could be sort of a try out for the young guy as the team looks towards next season. He will be paired with Dylan Reese tonight as Staios and Jurcina are scratched.
When it rains, it pours; that has been the mantra of the New York Islanders this weekend. Yesterday the Isles let up six goals in a loss to the Boston Bruins that mathematically eliminated themselves from playoff contention. Today, they continued their struggling ways in a 5-1 loss to the Ottawa Senators, who were without both Jason Spezza and Daniel Alfredsson.
"It was pretty horrible on our part. They were missing two of their top players and we couldn't take advantage of it. The way we played, we didn't deserve to win, that's for sure," said Islanders captain Mark Streit after the game. He would be the only Islander to be credited with a goal tonight with a John Tavares pass going off of his skate and behind Senators net-minder Craig Anderson.
If the Islanders won all of their remaining games and the Washington Capitals and Buffalo Sabres lost their remaininga games, then the Isles would have done the unthinkable and made the playoffs for the first time in years. However, miraculous combinations of wins and losses are hard to come by these days, especially when you are playing against the defending Stanley Cup champions.
The Bruins scored six goals this afternoon for the third time this season against the Islanders, taking the season series with a 3-1-0 record. The loss finally elimanted the Islanders from playoff contention, concluding the thoughts of even the most hopeless fan that thought somehow they would squeak in. The focus now will shift to finishing the season with a winning record for the first time since Ted Nolan was the head coach and ending up somewhere between 9th and 11th place.