(Photo Credit: Official New York Islanders/Flickr)
The Islanders played host this afternoon to the Edmonton Oilers on Ken Morrow night, as the former Isles defenseman was being inducted into the Islanders Hall of Fame. The last player to be inducted a little over a month ago was the team's first captain, Ed Westfall. The home team would go on to lose 6-0 that night to the Boston Bruins. But today Ken Morrow's name would ring with pride as the Islanders would go on to win 4-1 and establish a two-game winning streak.
The first period saw the Isles take a 1-0 lead on the power play as Ben Eager was serving a roughing penalty. And get used to that statement, because Eager made himself right at home in the shameful sin bin with a total of 16 PIMs on the day, not one of them from a fighting major. PA Parenteau would drag the puck through the slot and have it taken away from him, only to land perfectly on John Tavares' stick. With Devan Dubnyk down and out of position after the puck changed directions, Tavares was able to bury the puck with ease. Matt Moulson had the secondary assist.
The Oilers would tie the game later in the period after a fluky shot made it's way past Evgeni Nabokov. Nino Niederreiter was caught out of position, forcing him to dive stick first in order to block the shot from the point. He got a piece of it, allowing the puck to change directions and pinball it's way through the crease. Sam Gagner was credited with the goal with the assists going to Corey Potter and former Islander Andy Sutton.
On Christmas Eve Saturday, New Yorkers everywhere tuned in as the New York Giants faced the New York Jets at MetLife Stadium. Despite getting off to an excellent start, scoring a touchdown on their opening drive, the Jets looked very much like the weaker of the two teams all game long. They could not find a big play when they needed it, and made key mistakes – none larger than Victor Cruz’s 99 yard TD catch – which cost them the game.
On Monday night at Madison Square Garden two Atlantic division rivals faced off, and again New Yorkers tuned in to watch their teams compete. This time it was the New York Rangers facing the New York Islanders. And despite a few stretches of the game where the Islanders looked to control the play, the reality is that like the Jets, they played their part of weaker team to the Rangers for the majority of the game.
I wrote a piece back in October entitled, "P.A. Perfect?" that discussed whether or not the first line winger would be able to continue on his hot streak that began at the start of the season. As of now, according to TSN's calculations, he is on pace for a 68 point season. Those 68 points would be spread about 14 goals and 54 assists, a production total that his line mates Matt Moulson and John Tavares are more or less both on pace for as well.
I say that because when you look at the Islanders statistics, those three are the very top in the points category with Parenteau and Moulson tied for 28 for the team lead and JT right behind them with 27. After that, the offense dwindles with defenseman Mark Streit checking in with 18 points and Frans Nielsen being the next forward in line with a total of 15 points in 33 games.
But I am not here to talk about the Islanders terrible offensive production that has plagued them all season long. Parenteau, as stated in the past, is a player that many felt would be the odd man out, seeing himself off the Island by the end of the year
When you think of the New York Islanders and associate the word "injury" to their name, you automatically think of all the man-games lost by this team over the past few years and immediately think of the infamous Rick DiPietro. But right now, the injury bug is starting to bite in places other than the 15-year man's knees.
Brian Rolston was placed on the Injured Reserve retroactive to Dec 15th due to a concussion he sustained during the team's 3-2 loss to the Dallas Stars this passed Thursday. He left the game and did not return and has not played since.This has allowed Nino Niederreiter to return to the line-up without their having to be any major changes to the roster.
Other players, like Tim Wallace, have been getting extra playing time as well. Although Wallace has previous NHL experience with the Pittsburgh Penguins, he really hasn't been all that impressive.
The New York Islanders will take on the Minnesota Wild tonight. The Islanders have been playing well lately, staying in every game they’ve played since breaking their long losing streak almost a month ago. Despite a 4-0-2 stretch which saw the young Isles climb back up the standings, their most recent games, regardless of their improved play, have not yielded the type of success they have needed in the standings. They have walked away from recent games where 2 points was well within their grasp.
There are many stages to a rebuild, and the Islanders seem to be on the right track for a slow, steady, and successful one. We saw this season during their long losing streak, that unlike last season when they took the ice for each game with a look of despair, that this team comes out of the locker room hungry and expecting to win every time they play.
The next lesson that this young group needs to learn is simple: Finish Games.
The Islanders inability to score with the man-advantage and stay out of the penalty box would be the story for tonight's 3-2 loss to the visiting Dallas Stars. The Isles were 0-3 on the power play, two of which came at crucial moments where they needed to tie the game. Throw in their continuous trips to the sin bin and you have yourself a recipe for a poorly played hockey game.
Brian Rolston, Jay Pandolfo, Marty Reasoner and Steve Staios were added to this Islanders team during the off-season to provide veteran stability throughout the line-up; Rolston was acquired for cap room and an added offensive punch over Trent Hunter, Pandolfo and Reasoner were brought in for defensive support on the bottom line, and Staios added grit and experience to a relatively young defense crew.
Let's take a look at their numbers to see where they stand...
When you hear that the Islanders and Penguins are facing each other again, the first thought that pops into the average NHL fan's mind is the February 11th game (or "The Brawl Game" as I like to call it) when these two teams went over 400 penalty minutes. But that game is in the past, tonight the Isles face the Pens in search of two points and move up in the standings.