The New York Islanders defeated the Buffalo Sabres 3-0 on Saturday night for their second to last home game of the regular season at Nassau Coliseum. In honor of the fact that the Islanders will soon be leaving Nassau County for the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, the franchise dedicated this evening’s game to a few select players that have played major roles for this team over the past four decades.
Such players included Ed Westfall, Gary Howatt, Bobby Nystrom, Butch Goring, Ken Morrow, Pierre Turgeon, Steve Webb, Eric Cairns and Shawn Bates.
Each player was honored with a video tribute highlighting their contributions to the franchise during their respective decades.
If the only good news the Islanders received Thursday night was that they picked up another big two points in Nashville, it would have been a good enough day. But the night was made a little sweeter when it was reported that forward Kyle Okposo would be joining the team in Florida for its Saturday night game against the Panthers. It is unlikely Okposo will suit up, but the idea of number 21 back in the lineup is enough to excite the Islander fans who were stunned to see him go down with injury over the All-Star Break.
The New York Islanders weren’t anticipated by many to be busy today during the NHL’s annual trade deadline. But to the contrary, Garth Snow’s phone was ringing plenty today as the Islanders GM made a handful of moves.
The Jack Adams award is given out each year to the coach who is judged to have contributed the most to his team’s success in the National Hockey League. If you were to ask Isles fans about Jack Capuano’s name being thrown into the list of candidates for the award a year ago, you would have received plenty of laughs.
Despite being the next winningest coach for the Islanders after Al Arbour, Capuano had drawn the ire of the Islanders faithful for his inability to provide Nassau Coliseum ice with a winning hockey team after making the playoffs the year before.
But considering the success of the Islanders this season, it would be inconsiderate of the league to not take a look at Capuano when deciding who should be nominated for the award.
The Islanders were dealt a significant blow on Tuesday afternoon when coach Jack Capunao announced that forward Kyle Okposo would miss the next six to eight weeks with an "upper body" injury. No one knows for sure what is ailing Okposo, but there were various rumors floating around Twitter of an eye injury that required surgery. There's no way to know if that is true at this point, but those rumors began several days ago, so it wouldn't be a shock if they were true.
It’s been a heck of a first half for the Islanders as they coast into the All-Star break with a 31-14-1 record, good for first place in the Metropolitan Division. They ended up the nominal first half with wins in five of their last six and own a tidy 15-2-0 record against division foes. The team is doing everything it can to make the last season at the Nassau Coliseum a memorable one.
So as the team takes a well-deserved break before the final second half push kicks off next Tuesday against the Rangers, it’s time to take a look back and what happened over the season’s first 46 games and preview ahead to the final 36 regular season games.
Another weekend, another joyous Monday. Such is the life of a New York Islander fan now.
The Islanders entered play Friday night 21-10-0, about to play the Red Wings in Detroit, the first of back to back games. The weekend would be completed Saturday night at the Nassau Coliseum against the Tampa Bay Lightning. Going into Friday night the teams were a combined 37-17-11, both firmly entrenched in a playoff spot in the Atlantic Division. Surely most Islander fans were a little nervous and would have signed up for a split of the pair in a heartbeat.
So what happened?
Oh, just a couple or regulation wins, 2-1 versus Detroit and 3-1 against Tampa Bay as the Islanders improved to 23-10-0. Ho-hum.
Despite the recent success of the Islanders, there is still a major hole that needs to be filled within the team’s lineup.
John Tavares and Kyle Okposo have been the undisputed top two forwards on this team for the past year. Currently, Tavares and Okposo are tied for the team lead in points with 24 each in 27 games played. However, the third member of the top line is not even close.
Michael Grabner has been activated off the injured reserve and is close to making his debut in the Islanders line-up this season. He was seen this morning practicing with Frans Nielsen and Mikhail Grabovski, although it has yet to be confirmed if this is the line he will be playing with tomorrow night when they visit the Ottawa Senators for the second half of a home-and-home match-up.
Where Grabner would fit has come into question, given that the current line-up has done very well this season (18-7-0).
The New York Islanders played in a packed house filled with two fan bases that were seething with animosity towards one another. In previous years, a visiting division rival fan base would overtake the Coliseum and diminish most “Let’s Go Islanders” chants.
Not this year.
On a night where the team was honoring Islanders legend, Denis Potvin, Isles fans quickly extinguished the chants from New Jersey fans and drowned out their support (as well as throw in many other chants as well) with ease as the home team fought for a 3-1 victory in front of a sold out Nassau Coliseum crowd.