The Islanders will kick off 4-game home stand tonight when they take on the Ottawa Senators for the third and final time this season. After a difficult 3-1 loss to the Sens back in February, the Isles took the most recent matchup with a pair of stellar shootout goals by the likes of Frans Nielsen and John Tavares.
So far this month, the Isles are 5-1-1, which has currently placed them 3 points out of the 8th and last playoff seed in the Eastern Conference. The Isles have also improved on their dreadful home record, going 3-0-2 in their last 5 games at the Nassau Coliseum.
When Garth Snow took over as general manager of the New York Islanders, he eventually set out on a mission to turn a lowly franchise into a contending hockey team by building through the NHL draft and developing talent from within (Photo Credit: Official New York Islanders/Flickr).
He took over in 2006, but did not start his rebuilding campaign until 2007-2008. Players such as Jeff Tambellini, Sean Bergenheim and Frans Nielsen began to slowly earn full-time roster spots with the organization.
The following year saw some other fresh faces like Jack Hillen, Josh Bailey, Kyle Okposo and Blake Comeau in orange and blue gear for the majority of the season. Since then, John Tavares has taken over this team while management weeded out a few bad apples and traded away some young talent that was not prospering on the island.
New York, as many knew, was weak on defense and several experts had elite defensive prospects such as Cam Fowler slotted for Long Island.
What would Garth do? The Islanders General Manager decided to go with the Swiss born Nino Niederreiter. It raised a few eyebrows, but not because the power forward lacked talent. It was surprising merely because he was not a blueliner.
Would the Isles select a defenseman this day? Would there be any reaches?
Let's take a look at that draft and see what happened.
For the New York Islanders, home hasn't been very sweet, but somebody has been adding some sugar. The Isles, in the midst of a seven game home stand, have points in their last three games, all of which have been on home ice. Even better, they have fought through some adversity to earn these points.
On Tuesday night, the New York Islanders took the ice with a new found confidence. This new beaming attitude carried over from their shoot out win against Ottawa on Sunday.
It would be a stretch to say that the home woes are in the past completely. However, there is optimism among the fan base after stringing together two impressive wins at the Coliseum over teams from Canada.
The most promising feature of Tuesday's game had to be the energy that the players exhibited. There was a jump in their step and the Isles kept the pressure on all night long. The Isles' excellent game could be captured in one picture of Casey Cizikas dumping his Montreal foe into the New York bench.
The Isles went with Tavares and it certainly is looking like the right choice. He is one of the hardest working players in the National Hockey League and he is super competitive. He leads by example and makes those around him better.
But what about the rest of the 2009 draft?
Let's take a look at that draft and see where they are now.
The former 7th overall pick in the 2006 NHL Entry Draft has been invisible this season for the Islanders and it’s time that the organization looks to trade Okposo, if they haven’t started already.
Many players had to shake off rust from their time off during the lockout, but the rust should have come off during the first two weeks of the season. Through 22 games, Okposo has two goals and six assists for a measly eight points, which is good for seventh on the Islanders.
This is absolutely unacceptable for a former top pick and especially on a team that is in need of some scoring from players that aren't named Tavares, Moulson and Boyes.
It took a dramatic finish, but the New York Islanders finally won a game on home ice during a Sunday matinee game, defeating the Ottawa Senators 3-2 in the shootout.
The Islanders got on the board early in the game when Brad Boyes scored his fifth of the year, beating Robin Lehner glove side under the crossbar. The play started when Matt Moulson received a pass from Mark Streit at the Senators blue line and fed Boyes the puck as he was flying up the slot.
Not long after Boyes' goal, Matt Martin was found banging bodies all over the ice. In fact Martin had 6 hits in just over 3 minutes of play during the first period. Senators enforcer Chris Neil took exception to Martin's physical play and challenged him to a fight, but Martin ignored his request and continued to take out Senators along the wall.
He finished with 11 hits on the night. Coming into the game, Martin was just one shy of tying Buffalo Sabres forward Steve Ott for the league lead of 94 hits.