The Islanders might not have signed any additional forwards (aside from Kirill Petrov) this off-season, but there is certainly going to be a log jam at that position as the organization prepares for training camp.
You have your obvious two on the top line between Kyle Okposo and John Tavares. The third member of that line remains to be seen, a problem that has lingered since last season and must be remedied this year.
Newsday recently reported that Islanders GM Garth Snow is committed to bringing back his coaching staff. A drastically improved season has led Snow to believe that it is appropriate to keep head coach Jack Capuano, as well as assistant coaches Doug Weight, Bob Corkum and Greg Cronin, and goalie coach Mike Dunham, behind the Islanders bench next year.
Many fans disagree with this notion. The Islanders did have a tremendous season, improving from a team that consistently fell in the standings for a pick in the draft lottery to a team tied for fourth place in the East with 101 points.
Blowing a two goal lead in the third period of a hockey game is never acceptable by the standards of most coaches and players, but to let it happen when you are looking to solidify a playoff spot is downright atrocious.
And that’s what the New York Islanders did last night.
With all due respect to the Columbus Blue Jackets, a team that has now won eight games in a row, they are not a contending playoff team. They currently sit fifth in the Metropolitan Division, 15 points behind the Pittsburgh Penguins (and the Pens sit in one of the Eastern Conference wild card spots, only one point away from knocking the Islanders out of the top three in the Metropolitan Division).
This was a game that they needed to win and should have won – and they were well on their way until they blew it; a common theme for the Islanders over the past several weeks.
If someone went up to an Islander fan in September and asked them if they would be happy if by St. Patrick's Day, the team would be sitting at second plance in the Metropolitan Division with 90 points and comfortably in a playoff position, what percentage would have said "yes?" 90 percent? 95? Heck, would it even get as high as 99.9999 percent (yes, there's always one)? If wins lead to success and success leads to happiness, then surely we should be grinning ear to ear, unable to hide our joy of the 2014/15 season, right?
The New York Islanders will have a welcomed face back in the line-up tonight as Kyle Okposo is set to return as they take on the New York Rangers for the last time at Nassau Coliseum tonight.
This will also be the last time that these two teams will meet, barring a match-up in this year’s playoffs.
Okposo has missed the last six weeks of the season due a detached retina that required immediate surgery. According to Newsday, the surgery was so serious that he was unsure of whether or not his vision would have officially been restored to his eye.
If the only good news the Islanders received Thursday night was that they picked up another big two points in Nashville, it would have been a good enough day. But the night was made a little sweeter when it was reported that forward Kyle Okposo would be joining the team in Florida for its Saturday night game against the Panthers. It is unlikely Okposo will suit up, but the idea of number 21 back in the lineup is enough to excite the Islander fans who were stunned to see him go down with injury over the All-Star Break.
The Jack Adams award is given out each year to the coach who is judged to have contributed the most to his team’s success in the National Hockey League. If you were to ask Isles fans about Jack Capuano’s name being thrown into the list of candidates for the award a year ago, you would have received plenty of laughs.
Despite being the next winningest coach for the Islanders after Al Arbour, Capuano had drawn the ire of the Islanders faithful for his inability to provide Nassau Coliseum ice with a winning hockey team after making the playoffs the year before.
But considering the success of the Islanders this season, it would be inconsiderate of the league to not take a look at Capuano when deciding who should be nominated for the award.
After struggling to find the back of the net their last two games and managing only three goals combined against Boston and Detroit, Jack Capuano has seen enough from his offense and shook up the lines again in practice today. In particular, rookie Anders Lee was promoted to the top line to play with John Tavares and Josh Bailey, a huge opportunity for Lee to keep adding to his solid rookie campaign.
The Islanders were dealt a significant blow on Tuesday afternoon when coach Jack Capunao announced that forward Kyle Okposo would miss the next six to eight weeks with an "upper body" injury. No one knows for sure what is ailing Okposo, but there were various rumors floating around Twitter of an eye injury that required surgery. There's no way to know if that is true at this point, but those rumors began several days ago, so it wouldn't be a shock if they were true.
At the end of the first half of the season (technically more), the New York Islanders have secured second place in the entire Eastern Conference, first place in the Metropolitan Division with a record of 31-14-1 & 63 points. Here at TCL, the Cappy's encapsulate what has gotten the Islanders to this point, and what will drive them towards future success & hopefully a long Stanley Cup run.