The season for the New York Islanders is more than halfway over, having completed Game 46 of the 82-game season last night with a 2-1 win over the Carolina Hurricanes in overtime. The win has brought the Isles to a 19-21-6 record putting them eight points out of a playoff spot behind the Washington Capitals sitting in the final, eigth spot.
As John Madonia pointed out in his post-game wrap up, these next two games against the Toronto Maple Leafs are crucial for the Islanders. For the first time in a few years, Islanders fans are able to find themselves in a position where they can start looking at the standings and sharing concerns about the success of other teams in their Conference. Two wins against the Leafs would hypothetically put the Isles at only four points out of the playoffs and see them with a .500 record.
The Isles are not in last in the Eastern Conference; they are currently out of the draft lottery; and John Tavares has emerged as an elite talent in the NHL. Part of the rebuild requires looking for signs of progress in all areas. Although those signs that are mentioned above don't necessarily amount to the hopes and dreams of most Islanders fans, they are still important. Slow and steady as she goes.
The Islanders play host to the Nashville Predators this afternoon and it is always nice to see a team from the West at the old barn.
Although coach Capuano has not confirmed who his starting goaltender will be, I have got to assume Kevin Poulin will be between the pipes. Nabokov has played in 11 straight games and obtained his 300th career victory on Saturday vs. Buffalo. There is no reason not to start Poulin. The only action he's seen as of late is during the pregame warm up.
There are many differences between National League (NHL) and American League (AHL) players. Talent and dedication do not make that list. Perhaps that is why Islanders coach Jack Capuano refers to ‘call-ups’ as American League players and not minor leaguers. It may be because he coached the Bridgeport Sound Tigers, it could be that he himself was successful at the NCAA, ECHL, AHL, and NHL levels. No distinction. When Cappy makes the call to Sound Tigers coach Brent Thompson to fill a need, the Isles will get a talented, dedicated player who fits in seamlessly into the system.
The biggest difference (my opinion) is the fan experience. Parking? Not a problem and free to season ticket holders. Tickets available? Most likely and you can more often than not move to another seat as you wish. Drunken Flyer’s fans in the building? Not in Howard Saffan’s house! Player accessibility? Let’s talk.
Detroit Red Wings Goaltender Jimmy Howard has 99 career wins in his young National Hockey League career.
He will look for number 100 against the New York Islanders.
Easier said than done.
The New York Islanders have won three consecutive games against Howard and the Red Wings. In their last meeting on December 31, 2010, a 4-3 overtime win for the Isles, P.A Parenteau scored the game-winning power-play goal in the extra session.
Even with the recent success against the Wings, the 2011-12 Islanders are fading quickly in a tightly contested Eastern Conference. Their most recent road trip started out with a dramatic shoot-out victory in Carolina, followed up by a listless third period in a 4-2 loss at Anaheim and a 5-1 drubbing by the Phoenix Coyotes that saw Shane Doan collect his first hat trick in 1160 career games. Evgeni Nabokov started his 9th straight game for the Isles and took the loss. He allowed five goals, including the 3rd goal by Doan with 0.1 left on the clock.
Nino Niederreiter has been playing with the New York Islanders all season long, but the amount of time he has spent on the ice has become somewhat of a concern amongst Isles fans. The 19-year old winger had a very impressive season last year with the Portland Winterhawks of the WHL. His skill, size and vision on the ice allowed the Islanders to feel that he was ready to make the full-time jump to the NHL with the organization envisioning his development to result along the lines of a top-six scoring winger.
So far this year, Niederreiter has become the exact opposite. His season was plagued by injuries from the get-go, forcing him to miss the start of the year with a groin injury he sustained in the pre-season. He came back gradually, but eventually started to show that he was getting his game back by using his size in the corners and scoring his first goal of the season. But another injury, the infamous concussion that was given to him in a game against the Dallas Stars, became another hurdle for the young forward to leap over in his development. As a result, the Islanders have played a total of 39 games on the year; Nino has only appeared in 16 of them.
Another frustrating loss for the New York Islanders. Falling 5-1 to the Phoenix Coyotes for their second straight loss. A 1-2 road trip leads them to their next game, at home on Tuesday, against the Detroit Red Wings.
But let's talk about last night's game. It was yet another Islander game of the whole team just not having it. The team looked sloppy and just could not make a play. As for the Coyotes, being a team currently out of a playoff...
The Ducks top line of Corey Perry, Ryan Getzlaf, and Bobby Ryan had a coming out party Friday Night.
Unfortunately, it was at the New York Islanders expense.
Bobby Ryan had two goals and Ryan Getzlaf scored the go-ahead goal, his first in over a month, as the Anaheim Ducks defeated the Islanders 4-2.
Ryan started the scoring at 14:18 of the second period only seconds after their first power play of the game ended. Matt Martin answered back under two minutes later tapping home a rebound to tie the game at one. It was his fifth goal of the season, tying his career high.
(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