It almost seems like it's been the same story heading into the off-season year after year now; the Isles lack a top-six forward and top-four defenseman that could help make them a competitive team that could be fighting for a playoff spot.
They've tried free agency and have been shot down by guys like Paul Martin. They tried the trade market with James Wisniewski, who ended up being a major disappointment while wearing orange and blue. They even tried that route once more, gaining the negotating rights to Christian Ehrhoff. He didn't want to sign, and I think after seeing how he played under his very luxurious contract, most Isles fans probably don't care.
Although both trades were under different circumstances, they shared one glaring similarity. Not one of them involved any actual players leaving the Island. Ehrhoff's rights were acquired for a fourth round draft pick, and Wisniewski came on board in exchange for a 2011 second round pick and conditional 2012 fifth round pick. Despite the early signs of GM Garth Snow developing a pattern, there is reason to believe that could change heading into this summer's off-season.
The New York Islanders are gaining attention in the media once again as Gary Bettman recently announced that Brooklyn would not be a viable option for the Islanders to move to in 2015. With all of the question marks surrounding the Isles' arena situation, the Islanders will still have to finish out their lease agreement under some uncertainty. (BridgetDS/Flickr)
However, some late season secondary has left fans wondering if the Islanders can sustain the type of chemistry that helped the team finish on a 6-5 note in their last 11 games. Josh Bailey closed off the season on a tear and has constantly left fans wondering if he has finally put everything together, but it seems as though the pivot was very comfortable playing on the wing alongside talented playmaker Frans Nielsen. Nielsen didn't seem to mind the adjustment as the pair combined for 24 points in the last 11 contests for the Islanders. Nielsen registered 11 points (3 Goals, 8 Assists) while Bailey outdid him with 13 points (3 Goals, 10 Assists). However, the most important part about their streaks was the fact that the two players were gelling together and looked very comfortable playing on the same line.
If the Islanders won all of their remaining games and the Washington Capitals and Buffalo Sabres lost their remaininga games, then the Isles would have done the unthinkable and made the playoffs for the first time in years. However, miraculous combinations of wins and losses are hard to come by these days, especially when you are playing against the defending Stanley Cup champions.
The Bruins scored six goals this afternoon for the third time this season against the Islanders, taking the season series with a 3-1-0 record. The loss finally elimanted the Islanders from playoff contention, concluding the thoughts of even the most hopeless fan that thought somehow they would squeak in. The focus now will shift to finishing the season with a winning record for the first time since Ted Nolan was the head coach and ending up somewhere between 9th and 11th place.
Sunrise, Fl- When the New York Islanders entered last night's contest with the Florida Panthers it was with the knowledge that failing to get a point would mean mathematical elimination from the playoffs. While the chances of seeing a playoff run this season is unfortunately a long shot, a regulation loss would have eliminated all hope. However, Frans Nielsen and the rest of the Islanders team had other plans in mind. (Photo Credit: AP/Newsday)
The Islanders traveled to Montreal last night and finally came out with two points. After being winless in their last five games, the Islanders faced off against the 14th place Montreal Canadiens.
For the Canadiens, this season could have gone much smoother and produced a better result. They are a team that underachieved, especially them being a team that made it to the Stanley Cup playoffs for multiple seasons in a row.
Many were immediately calling for the removal of head coach Jack Capuano at the start of the season once the New York Islanders' record began to slip from 3-1 to way below .500. However, there were some, like myself, who argued that it was premature to blame the coaching staff for the poor start due to the fact that the roster from last season hadn't changed much and for the other simple fact - the season was still young. (Photo Credit: Robert Kowal/Flickr)
Since then, the Islanders have managed to be a consistent below .500 team for the year. They have come close on a few occasions from jumping over the hurdle but would then find a way to take two steps back after taking one step forward. This past week has been the most disheartening of the year for Isles fans in relation to how the team has continued to perform. Not only have they lost games, but they have done it with such depression that even the U.S. economy cringed.
Three of the last eight games saw the Islanders either blow a three-goal lead or lose the game in the final few minutes of the third period. It started when the Islanders went into the second period against the Washington Capitals with a 2-0 lead on February 28th. The Caps would score two goals in the final three minutes of the game and then go on to have Alexander Ovechkin score the early game winning goal in the extra frame. The Islanders also had a 1-0 lead against the New Jersey Devils just this past Saturday, only to see their opponent score two goals just 14 seconds apart in the final two minutes of the hockey game. And most recently, the Islanders blew a 4-1 lead last night against the Caps to lose 5-4 in the shootout.
There's John Tavares with 66 points, just one goal/point shy of tying his career high from last season; there's Matt Moulson with 58 points, continuing his increased season output this season so far by five points; and of course there is P.A. Parenteau with 61 points, having the best season of his NHL career being tied for fifth in the league for assists (46) with Evgeni Malkin. And after that?
Well there's Mark Streit with 36 points, likely to finish 10 points less than he did two years ago. Streit has had his most disappointing season in an Islanders uniform. He's a -23 and only has two power play goals this year. He had nine and ten in his previous two seasons, respectively.
There lies your biggest problem heading into the end of the season. The Islanders offense was expected to be one of the team's bright sides going into 2012. To the contrary, they have the third worst offense in the NHL and have suffered a major drought when it's come to secondary scoring.
New York, NY- After suffering a heartbreaking loss Saturday night at the Coliseum the Islanders entered the Garden last with their hopes of making the playoffs almost in shreds. Although the playoffs are looking almost out of reach, a win last night, against the Rangers, could have spun the Islanders' momentum back in their favor and kept them within nine points of the final seed. (Photo Credit: AP/Kathy Kmonicek)
The game started off as what seemed would be a defensive battle, the teams combined for three shots in the first five minutes of play. The Rangers would eventually go on to out shoot the Islanders 11-5 in the period but that would not reflect on the scoreboard. Just 2:!4 into the game the Ranger-Islander rivalry lived up to its hype as the Rangers' Stu Bickel and the Islanders' Michael Haley squared off at center ice and had a go.
It's still a long shot, but the Islanders have pulled themselves back into playoff conversations with a 1-0 win yesterday over the New Jersey Devils that has put them within five points of the last spot in the Eastern Conference. But even so, there are plenty of questions that surround the New York Islanders hockey club, ranging from the uncertain future of the arena to whether or not Tim Horton's will ever return to the concession stands. The most important questions, the ones that impact the immediate future, are the ones that need to be answered first; GM Garth Snow has to figure out where certain players will fit on his roster as the rebuild pushes forward.
I've already talked about the possibility of Evgeni Nabokov re-signing with the Islanders, as well as teammate P.A. Parenteau returning in an orange and blue sweater. But Snow will have to take a long look at some of his current regulars and decide where they fit with the team long term as some young, fresh faces are pushing for NHL jobs.
The stage was set for an emotional carry over into Saturday morning regardless of the outcome of Friday night's Islanders/Rangers game; a win for the Isles against their biggest rival and top team in the Eastern Conference would keep their playoff hopes alive, but a loss to their number one foe would have been a crushing blow to their confidence and chances.
Fortunately, the orange and blue would come on top with a 4-3 shootout victory with Matt Moulson netting the finally tally in the fourth round.
Tensions were high at the start of the game and Matt Martin decided to ease things up a bit by fighting Stu Bickel just over two minutes into the game. Both got their licks in before Martin swung and missed, falling to the ice to end the fight early. A fair draw would set the tone for how evenly the game would be played.