After having an incredible first half of the season, the New York Islanders find themselves in a somewhat unfamiliar position. The Isles are losers of four of their past five, and barely scraped away with a shootout win over the Philadelphia Flyers on Thursday.
Tonight the Isles will face the Buffalo Sabres, a team that is dwelling at the very bottom of the NHL standings and is also 2-8-0 in their last ten games played.
By all standards, this is a game that the Islanders should absolutely win. However, the Isles need to make sure history does not repeat itself.
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.
Jaroslav Halak is a clear cut NHL all-star. If you tuned into the NHL All-Star weekend, you would have noticed that John Tavares (arguably the MVP of the game last night despite the hometown guy taking the honors) was not the only Islanders player representing the blue and orange.
Halak has gone 25-9-0 this year in 34 games played this season to go along with a 2.41 GAA and .910 save percentage. Halak’s numbers are excellent, and he has been nothing short of spectacular for the New York Islanders this season.
Chad Johnson, who was supposed to be Halak’s co-star between the pipes, has appeared more like a stunt double; he’s only played when Halak’s needed a rest and has dealt with some ugly situations.
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.
It’s been a heck of a first half for the Islanders as they coast into the All-Star break with a 31-14-1 record, good for first place in the Metropolitan Division. They ended up the nominal first half with wins in five of their last six and own a tidy 15-2-0 record against division foes. The team is doing everything it can to make the last season at the Nassau Coliseum a memorable one.
So as the team takes a well-deserved break before the final second half push kicks off next Tuesday against the Rangers, it’s time to take a look back and what happened over the season’s first 46 games and preview ahead to the final 36 regular season games.
The Islanders have already surpassed the midway point of the season, embarking on the second half of a year that is marking the end of an era for this organization.
There are currently 40 games remaining of the regular season, leaving only 24 games left to be played at the only building they have called home for the past 43 years; Nassau Coliseum.
With the off-season moves that GM Garth Snow made this summer, many predicted that the last year at the Madhouse on the Meadowbrook would be a memorable one. But it’s doubtful that many Islanders fans and hockey pundits expected the Islanders to be sitting atop the Metropolitan Division as they prepare to face their biggest rivals tonight, the New York Rangers.
If you believe in omens, scoring 31 seconds into the game isn't a bad sign if you're an Islander fan. At the end of the night the New York Islanders topped the Columbus Blue Jackets in dominating fashion, winning 5-2 at the Nationwide Arena in Columbus, setting the stage for what should be a great game Tuesday night against the Rangers.
The New York Islanders visit the Buffalo Sabres Saturday night as the NHL resumes games after its three day Christmas break. The Islanders will look to improve on its 23-11-0 record, good for second in the Metropolitan Division.
Another weekend, another joyous Monday. Such is the life of a New York Islander fan now.
The Islanders entered play Friday night 21-10-0, about to play the Red Wings in Detroit, the first of back to back games. The weekend would be completed Saturday night at the Nassau Coliseum against the Tampa Bay Lightning. Going into Friday night the teams were a combined 37-17-11, both firmly entrenched in a playoff spot in the Atlantic Division. Surely most Islander fans were a little nervous and would have signed up for a split of the pair in a heartbeat.
So what happened?
Oh, just a couple or regulation wins, 2-1 versus Detroit and 3-1 against Tampa Bay as the Islanders improved to 23-10-0. Ho-hum.