The Islanders take to the ice tonight looking to respond after a tough lost last night to the Maple Leafs. Tonight will be the Islanders last chance to head into the All-Star break on a winning note. The Islanders and Maple Leafs also both look to keep playoff hopes alive with wins in tonight’s contest.
The Islanders are still only 9 points out of a playoff spot and after going out and laying a goose egg last night they need to play much better in tonight’s game. Capuano suggested that after last night’s game there could be some line-up changes. Those should be released later this morning but the only change I would truly like to see is the promotion of Nino Niederreitier and the demotion of Brian Rolston. In recent games we have all seen the improvement of play from Nino and he deserves more ice time and better line mates. In the case of Rolston, he just hasn’t played well recently and may need a demotion to find the fire he once had in his play. He is constantly missing the net on many great chances and is the cause of some turnovers. On a team that is struggling to find secondary scoring, mistakes from a veteran like that can’t happen.
The season for the New York Islanders is more than halfway over, having completed Game 46 of the 82-game season last night with a 2-1 win over the Carolina Hurricanes in overtime. The win has brought the Isles to a 19-21-6 record putting them eight points out of a playoff spot behind the Washington Capitals sitting in the final, eigth spot.
As John Madonia pointed out in his post-game wrap up, these next two games against the Toronto Maple Leafs are crucial for the Islanders. For the first time in a few years, Islanders fans are able to find themselves in a position where they can start looking at the standings and sharing concerns about the success of other teams in their Conference. Two wins against the Leafs would hypothetically put the Isles at only four points out of the playoffs and see them with a .500 record.
The Isles are not in last in the Eastern Conference; they are currently out of the draft lottery; and John Tavares has emerged as an elite talent in the NHL. Part of the rebuild requires looking for signs of progress in all areas. Although those signs that are mentioned above don't necessarily amount to the hopes and dreams of most Islanders fans, they are still important. Slow and steady as she goes.
The New York Islanders, at least, will have a quick turnaround after one of their worst performance’s of the season. After a dismal 3-1 loss to the Nashville Predators, the
Islanders travel to the nation’s capital to play the red hot Washington Capitals.
Washington, winners of seven straight at the Verizon Center, come into the contest off a 2-1 home victory over the Carolina Hurricanes. They haven’t trailed in a game at home since December 13th. In 22 games since Bruce Boudreau was replaced by Dale Hunter, the Capitals have gone 12-9-1 playing themselves into a 1st place tie with the Florida Panthers in the Southeast Division.
Buffalo makes it first visit to Long Island tonight as they take on the Islanders. With both teams currently needing a win to keep their playoff chances alive this game looks to be a good one. The Islanders, with Thursday’s lost to the Flyers find themselves 12 points back and Buffalo a lot closer with 5 points out of a playoff spot. This is only the second meeting of four between these two with the Islanders winning the first one 2-1 in Buffalo on November 29th. Buffalo is currently struggling on the road with a seven game losing streak in regulation which should hopefully work in the Isles favor for this one.
After a hard fought effort in Thursday’s game I don’t expect to see line changes for tonight’s affair. The only change in the lineup that I can see would hopefully be to give Kevin Poulin a start and rest Evgeni Nabokov. Nabokov has played 10 games in a row now and I know his next win will be his 300th but Poulin was extremely hot in Bridgeport before his call-up and Nabokov did look like he needed a mental break during the game against the Flyers. Secondary scoring needs to start showing its face on the Islanders team if they truly want to start winning a serious amount of games. Moulson and Tavares are great players together and put the puck in the need often but they can’t be counted on to do all of the scoring for this team. The line of Martin, Bailey, and Grabner has had its flashes during the past few games and is creating chances; they just need to start finding the back of the net on a few more of those chances. The 2nd line of Rolston, Neilsen, and Parentau has been doing ok but just doesn’t seem all there, if any line was to get a shake-up this would be it. I would like to see the young Nino finally get some big line minutes to show us something and have him work with Frans and PA. I don’t see that happening for this game but it would be a good change for the future that should hopefully produce some goals. The defense for the Islanders has been good over the past few days and hopefully they can keep that up against the Sabres.
(Photo Credit: Official New York Islanders/Flickr)
The Islanders played host this afternoon to the Edmonton Oilers on Ken Morrow night, as the former Isles defenseman was being inducted into the Islanders Hall of Fame. The last player to be inducted a little over a month ago was the team's first captain, Ed Westfall. The home team would go on to lose 6-0 that night to the Boston Bruins. But today Ken Morrow's name would ring with pride as the Islanders would go on to win 4-1 and establish a two-game winning streak.
The first period saw the Isles take a 1-0 lead on the power play as Ben Eager was serving a roughing penalty. And get used to that statement, because Eager made himself right at home in the shameful sin bin with a total of 16 PIMs on the day, not one of them from a fighting major. PA Parenteau would drag the puck through the slot and have it taken away from him, only to land perfectly on John Tavares' stick. With Devan Dubnyk down and out of position after the puck changed directions, Tavares was able to bury the puck with ease. Matt Moulson had the secondary assist.
The Oilers would tie the game later in the period after a fluky shot made it's way past Evgeni Nabokov. Nino Niederreiter was caught out of position, forcing him to dive stick first in order to block the shot from the point. He got a piece of it, allowing the puck to change directions and pinball it's way through the crease. Sam Gagner was credited with the goal with the assists going to Corey Potter and former Islander Andy Sutton.
I wrote a piece back in October entitled, "P.A. Perfect?" that discussed whether or not the first line winger would be able to continue on his hot streak that began at the start of the season. As of now, according to TSN's calculations, he is on pace for a 68 point season. Those 68 points would be spread about 14 goals and 54 assists, a production total that his line mates Matt Moulson and John Tavares are more or less both on pace for as well.
I say that because when you look at the Islanders statistics, those three are the very top in the points category with Parenteau and Moulson tied for 28 for the team lead and JT right behind them with 27. After that, the offense dwindles with defenseman Mark Streit checking in with 18 points and Frans Nielsen being the next forward in line with a total of 15 points in 33 games.
But I am not here to talk about the Islanders terrible offensive production that has plagued them all season long. Parenteau, as stated in the past, is a player that many felt would be the odd man out, seeing himself off the Island by the end of the year
The Islanders are heading into the Big Apple to face their archrivals, the New York Rangers. Coming off back-to-back shootout wins (courtesy of Frans Neilsen and his patented forehand-backhand-top shelf move), the young Isles team is carrying a bit of momentum into the World’s Greatest Arena. They are playing with more confidence and finding ways to win hockey games.
This is a good thing. Because they will need every ounce of momentum, confidence, skill, (and maybe even a little luck) to leave Madison Square Garden with 2 points against the Rangers in tonight’s contest.
The Rangers (with 3 games in hand) are currently tied for 2nd in the Atlantic Division with the Pittsburgh Penguins, as they each have managed 42 points so far this season.
When you think of the New York Islanders and associate the word "injury" to their name, you automatically think of all the man-games lost by this team over the past few years and immediately think of the infamous Rick DiPietro. But right now, the injury bug is starting to bite in places other than the 15-year man's knees.
Brian Rolston was placed on the Injured Reserve retroactive to Dec 15th due to a concussion he sustained during the team's 3-2 loss to the Dallas Stars this passed Thursday. He left the game and did not return and has not played since.This has allowed Nino Niederreiter to return to the line-up without their having to be any major changes to the roster.
Other players, like Tim Wallace, have been getting extra playing time as well. Although Wallace has previous NHL experience with the Pittsburgh Penguins, he really hasn't been all that impressive.