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.
It's been repeated dozens of times before: the Islanders defense is not as good as it needs to be, and the goaltending between the pipes is a major area of concern. But what hasn't been acknowledged is that the Isles offense, which has more or less been excused, needs improvement as well (Photo credit: THEFANBLOG/Flickr).
There's no denying that Matt Carkner's play has been less than superb, and that Matt Donovan has continued to make the expected rookie mistakes. Both of these players have led to Travis Hamonic and most notably Andrew MacDonald being forced into accepting more minutes and responsibility that is perhaps too much for this duo to handle on a nightly basis.
Add that Lubomir Visnovsky's veteran leadership has been missing for quite some time now and you have every hockey pundit saying "ya think?!" when asked if the Isles defense may be one of the reasons why they have slid in the standings.
But see if you can answer this: aside from John Tavares, Kyle Okposo, Thomas Vanek (while healthy) and Frans Nielsen, where has the offense come for this team?
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.
After a winless road trip, the Islanders returned home to Nassau Coliseum on Tuesday night for their second and final meeting of the season with the Nashville Predators. The first meeting was a Predators 3-2 victory last month. Tonight a different story as the Islanders snapped their 4 game losing streak with a 3-1 victory over the Predators on home ice.
How has Kyle Okposo's career turned that proverbial corner? Has it been the players he's been playing with, his maturation of a hockey player, or was it that one special night in May? Check out how Okposo is becoming a monster on the stat sheet this season.(flickr/Official New York Islanders)