Tonight, the Islanders led most of the game. As is the norm, it was the first line of John Tavares, Thomas Vanek and Kyle Okposo who led the way.
After defenseman Thomas Hickey forced a turnover with the Pens skating into the Islanders’ zone, the Isles top line skates into the Pittsburgh zone. Tavares hits Okposo with a pass and the forward skates up the left wing. Okposo then backhands the puck on net where it ricochets off of Pitt defender Olli Maatta and past goalie Marc-Andre Fleury.
With injuries to key players such as Lubomir Visnovsky, Thomas Vanek and Evgeni Nabokov, the New York Islanders are struggling in more ways than one. Their power play is ineffective, the defense is porous and they cant string together a streak of wins no matter what they do. Different players stepping up to lead and the youth in Bridgeport being ready to contribute could be the difference for the Islanders playoff aspirations this season.
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.
Prior to the Islanders game against the Carolina Hurricanes last night, defenseman Aaron Ness was recalled for some help on the blueline. It could have been for help, or for a bit of a shake up as well which I think is needed for this team at the moment.
Despite that great effort, the Islanders are statistically one of the worst defensive team in the league. New York currently is tied with the Carolina Hurricanes for 23rd in the league in goals against per game and no small portion of that lies at the feet of the defense.
With Lubomir Visnovsky and Brian Strait currently sidelined by injuries, the defense is thin.
The Bridgeport Sound Tigers got off to a rough start to their season winning only one of their first seven games, however they seem to be back on the right track having won their last two games against the Worcester Sharks and Norfolk Admirals.
...But this trade signifies that GM Garth Snow is ready to strike a deal that can be made in order to benefit his team. He's no longer building for the future. He's looking to win right now (Photo credit: Official New York Islanders/Flickr).
And he should be. The rebuild has been over for at least a year now. The Islanders made the playoffs last year and played a series against a much better Pittsburgh Penguins team that could have gone either way had there been better goaltending.
The expectations deserve to be raised, and Snow has to make moves for the present. But at what cost?
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.
Going into this season the New York Islanders are in a very unique position compared to what they have been in the past. They are a team that is confident having come off of an unexpected and impressive playoff appearance last year. They have organizational depth that has built up nicely from sticking to their rebuilding plan and drafting well. To supplement that, they have made smart signings and waiver additions that both have and are looking to make an impact in the NHL. With the majority of the roster already set, it will be these players that are fighting to stay in the bottom lines that could ultimately have the biggest impact on how the Islanders do this season.