The Islanders were once again dealt a body blow last night, as Evegeni Nabokov injured his groin early in the 5-4 shootout victory over the Red Wings. With the groin injury seeming to sideline the veteran goaltenderfor the upwards of 4 weeks, the torch will be officially passed to 23 year old Kevin Poulin. Poulin has been steady so far this season but he has never had the pressure of being the #1 in the NHL.(flickr/lovexanastasia)
The struggling New York Islanders (7-10-3) look to turn things around tonight with Evgeni Nabokov in goal against the visiting Detroit Red Wings (9-5-6). The Red Wings, now a new Eastern Conference opponent due to the alignment change, are facing the Isles for the first time this season after a 4-3 shootout loss last night to the Washington Capitals.
The Isles, who once sat second in the Metropolitan Division, currently sit in 6th, five points behind the second place Capitals and three points behind the third place Carolina Hurricanes.
An inability to hold gain leads and/or hold them has propelled the Islanders to the bottom of the Eastern Conference standings (12th in the East) and has allowed their division rivals to surpass them.
Ryan Strome has been developing with the New York Islanders organization for the past two years, playing with their AHL farm-team affiliate, the Bridgeport Sound Tigers (Photo Credit: mandelux12/Flickr).
In 10 games with the Sound Tigers in 2013, Strome scored seven points in 10 games (two goals and five assists). He has continued the high scoring pace this season as well, notching 14 points in nine games played (three goals and 11 assists) as the team's top scorer.
He also was cited as the best player in the Islander rookie camp before the puck dropped for this season as well.
The New York Islanders wrapped up their homestand with a battle against the Vancouver Canucks. They are a rare opponent for the Isles. But, the man behind the bench for the Canucks is a familiar face. John Torterella, the former coach of the New York Rangers, is now leading the way for Vancouver
Going into camp this season a majory story line for the New York Islanders was who was going to step in on defense for the recently departed Mark Streit. Streit wasn't only the team's captain, but power play quarterback and large contributor on offense. The void that he left made for competition in camp among Islanders prospects as Garth Snow elected to not sign or trade for any defensemen. The clear cut front runner for the position was Matt Donovan who was figuring to be challenged by Calvin de Haan and Aaron Ness. Donovan put up huge offensive numbers in the AHL and as expected he eventually won the spot in camp. As expected he has been able to contribute offensively but has also found himself a healthy scratch multiple times this season. The reaction from fans has been mixed but I don't think it is as bad as some people are making it seem.
The Islanders will look to rebound from their first regulation loss of the season with a match-up tonight against the Nashville Predators.
The Isles fell 3-2 to the Chicago Blackhawks on Friday night in what was a somewhat sloppy game that saw a few of the team's defenseman out of position, leading to multiple scoring opportunities for the defending Stanley Cup champions.
Tonight, the Isles will look to rectify these mistakes and get back to their winning ways.
The 2014 season is only two games old for the New York Islanders, but there is already reason for cautious optimism.
Out of a possible four points, the Islanders have started off the year by taking three of them, tying them with the Carolina Hurricanes for second place in the Metropolitan Division, and putting them good enough for seventh place in the Eastern Conference (Photo credit: spotboslow/Flickr).
With the preseason now behind us, Isles fans everywhere can collectively breathe a sigh of relief as the moment we have all been waiting for is upon us. The Isles are on the verge of playing the first meaningful games since the heart breaking game 6 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins last May. We have all been eager to pick up right where we left off after exceeding all expectations last season. With all of this in mind, we can only hope for the success to continue so the Islanders can take their place among the elite teams of the NHL. Although the outcome of this coming season is yet to be determined, I think I speak for Islander fans everywhere when I say this is the most confident we have been in the last 20 years.