With the preseason now behind us, Isles fans everywhere can collectively breathe a sigh of relief as the moment we have all been waiting for is upon us. The Isles are on the verge of playing the first meaningful games since the heart breaking game 6 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins last May. We have all been eager to pick up right where we left off after exceeding all expectations last season. With all of this in mind, we can only hope for the success to continue so the Islanders can take their place among the elite teams of the NHL. Although the outcome of this coming season is yet to be determined, I think I speak for Islander fans everywhere when I say this is the most confident we have been in the last 20 years.
The New York Islanders made history last night, playing the New Jersey Devils in the first ever NHL game in Brooklyn. Granted, it was only a preseason game, but the sporting event brought in many fans since this is the future home of the New York Islanders.
Unfortunately, the final result isn't exactly what everyone would have liked to see, a 3-0 loss to one of their top rivals in the Metropolitan Division. But as stated above, this was only a preseason game with rosters lacking regular skaters for two teams that are looking to shake off some rust and evaluate line combinations and prospects.
The stars may be aligning perfectly for veteran Pierre Marc-Bouchard. Word has been circling around the Islanders that he will be joining John Tavares and Matt Moulson on the first line for the beginning of the 2013-14 season. While this is simply conjecture at this point, it has to Marc-Bouchard grinning from ear to ear. John Tavares and Matt Moulson have a tendency to find the net and their scoring prowess could leave him with many juicy opportunities. As a member of the Minnesota Wild, Bouchard has been uninspiring and mediocre scoring less than 20 goals in every season but the 06-07 campaign. This is likely to change if he flanks Moulson and Tavares on the top line.
What has history taught us about the lovable duo of Tavares and Moulson? Well, we have learned that they have the ability to make whoever plays as the third cog, an offensive threat. With the playmaking ability of John Tavares and Matt Moulson’s nose for the net, it is easy to see why P.A. Parenteau and Brad Boyes enjoyed decent offensive seasons in Islanders uniforms. There are some that believe that P.A. Parenteau can thank John Tavares alone for his 4 year, 16 million dollar contract with Colorado Avalanche. Good things tend to happen when 91 is on the ice.
Saying that John Tavares will have a breakout season when he recently became a Hart Trophy finalist and has scored 249 points in 291 played NHL games in just four seasons might sound a bit ridiculous. But it very well may be true (Photo credit: theseoduke/Flickr).
Tavares was just one point shy in each of the past two seasons from establishing himself as an official point-per-game player (47 in 48 games in 2013, 81 in 82 games in 2012). He also has only eclipsed the 30 goal mark once, scoring 31 in 2012 with a whopping 50 assists to go along with his scoring touch.
With all of that being said, it is very possible that John Tavares still has not reached his full potential.
There are a lot of questions surrounding the New York Islanders as they head into next season. The biggest one will be whether or not they are capable of making the playoffs for the second year in a row.
The NHL Facebook page recently asked this same question, and many fans were either skeptical, positive or found the idea downright absurd (and these weren't just Rangers fans).
Despite an intense, hard fought playoff series with a very inexperienced roster against the Pittsburgh Penguins, a team that has been one of the most dominant forces of the league for the past few years, many critics are still not convinced that the New York Islanders are a guaranteed playoff team.
At this year's 2013 NHL Entry Draft, the New York Islanders traded Nino Niederreiter, one of their top prospects, to the Minnesota Wild in exchange for a draft pick and Cal Clutterbuck; a 5'11" and 213 pound forward that is known for delivering devastating body checks and sticking up for his teammates (Photo credit: SWP2011/Flickr).
He has also been able to contribute offensively over the years, scoring 15 goals in 2012 and 19 goals in 2011.
Clutterbuck called me this afternoon to discuss the trade from Minnesota, his previous ties to the Islanders, what fans can expect out of him on a nightly basis and more.
There will be plenty of tough decisions to be made for New York Islanders head coach Jack Capuano when training camp starts in September, especially when it comes to deciding which young forward will have a chance to be on the opening night roster.
Both Ryan Strome and Brock Nelson have earned the deserved opportunity to get a long look before being sent back down to the Bridgeport Sound Tigers; the only question is which one will stay.