There are a lot of questions surrounding the New York Islanders as they head into next season. The biggest one will be whether or not they are capable of making the playoffs for the second year in a row.
The NHL Facebook page recently asked this same question, and many fans were either skeptical, positive or found the idea downright absurd (and these weren't just Rangers fans).
Despite an intense, hard fought playoff series with a very inexperienced roster against the Pittsburgh Penguins, a team that has been one of the most dominant forces of the league for the past few years, many critics are still not convinced that the New York Islanders are a guaranteed playoff team.
The Islanders were very busy at the start of an off-season that forecasted a flurry of movement from GM Garth Snow. On the agenda was signing a number-one goaltender and top-six forward, both of which took place on July 5th. A few other moves were made to help keep the core intact for many years to come, as well as removing another bad apple from the organization (Photo Credit: Official New York Islanders/Flickr).
After signing forward Peter Regin to what is seemingly a depth signing, the Isles quickly looked to fill the void left in the crease.
The Isles were reportedly interested in goaltender Ray Emery, who ended up signing a contract with the Philadelphia Flyers. This forced Snow to return to his original choice for the crease and sign Evgeni Nabokov to another one-year deal at $3.25 million.
The New York Islanders were hosting a playoff game on Nassau Coliseum ice for the first time in six years in front of a sold out crowd that was salivating for the puck to finally drop. Unfortunately for the Isles, they fell to the Penguins in overtime by a score of 5-4 on a power play goal that came from forward Chris Kunitz just 8:44 into the extra frame.
Special teams would ultimately play the deciding factor in the game, as the Islanders penalty kill only went 2-5, surrendering two additional power play goals in the first period that allowed the Penguins to get into the hockey game.
The Isles came out of the gates with energy and intensity, racking up hits, shots and goals immediately. Within the first two minutes of the game, Matt Moulson would slam home a rebound after Kyle Okposo would get the first few initial chances. Lubomir Visnovsky would be credited with the second assist.
Fighting has been, and will continue to be a controversial topic of discussion for as long as it is in the game of hockey. There are those who are against it, and those who are in support of it (Photo Credit: bridgetds/Flickr).
There are those who enjoy seeing a good'ol scrap just for the fun. You know, the ones who say they went to a fight and suddenly a hockey game broke out.
But there are others who understand the role a fight can play in waking up a team; it's ability to provide a spark on the bench that can contribute to better defense, stronger goaltending and ultimately goals that can win hockey games.
That's exactly what Kyle Okposo provided last night.
The New York Islanders extended their best home-winning streak this season to 4 on Tuesday night by defeating the Philadelphia Flyers 4-1. The Isles, who are now 7-1-1 in their last 9 games, are now tied for 6th place in the Eastern Conference at 44 points with the Ottawa Senators.
After Michael Grabner scored the go-ahead goal towards the end the of second period, the Isles held their composure in another stellar third period effort to come out on top of the Atlantic Division's bottom club. (Photo Credit: IslesPunkFan/Flickr)
Puck drop on Long Island, where the Isles were facing the Winnipeg Jets, was followed shortly thereafter in Worcester, Mass. when the same ritual was performed to start the Sound Tigers vs. Sharks contest. Isles fans would get to see Anders Lee play his first game as a professional (historic in that it marked the first time all members of an Isles draft class, 2009, ‘made it’) while Sound Tigers fans would watch top prospect Ryan Strome (2011) make his pro debut. Neither would disappoint.
The Islanders opened up their four game road trip with a big win against the Capitals in D.C. This victory put them, if only temporarily, tied for the last playoff spot. They played with desperation, taking the play to the Capitals immediately.
Around the four minute mark, Marty Reasoner, standing alone in front misses a point blank shot. The Isles kept up the pressure and at 6:25 of the first Grabner nets a beauty on a nice play from Keith Aucoin. Isles 1 Caps 0
Ullstrom is most effective when he's skating hard and working the forecheck to create turnovers. When he is on, he's also a pest and easily gets under the skin of opponents, all the while playing a clean game.
When Ullstrom is doing these little things, that's when he is creating his best offense. Forcing turnovers and converting them to offense is the hallmark of the young Swede.