Sunrise, Fl- When the New York Islanders entered last night's contest with the Florida Panthers it was with the knowledge that failing to get a point would mean mathematical elimination from the playoffs. While the chances of seeing a playoff run this season is unfortunately a long shot, a regulation loss would have eliminated all hope. However, Frans Nielsen and the rest of the Islanders team had other plans in mind. (Photo Credit: AP/Newsday)
The Islanders continue their north of the border road trip with a stop in Toronto tonight to visit the struggling Maple Leafs. The Islander will look to build off of at victory Saturday night in Montreal.
With the playoffs out of reach for the Islanders they will look to finish out the season strong and give themselves and the fan a positive outlook for next season. This will be the final meeting of the season between these two teams. The Maple Leafs currently hold the lead in the season series winning all three pervious match ups. The previous meeting between these two teams ended with an overtime victory for the Leafs after PA Parenteau scored in the final 13 seconds to tie it. Toronto will be looking to rebound from an embarrassing lost last night in Boston, where they were handled 8-0.
Making Ilya Bryzgalov the story for every game has become tiresome to the fans, the front office and Bryzgalov himself.
But when he does something as special as he's done the past couple of weeks, it's hard to just take all the focus away from the Russian netminder, nicknamed the $51 Million Man.
The Flyers have been winning, and they have been playing a brand of hockey many expected them to play down the stretch. Scoring, defense and goaltending - those are the three things that win championships.
So why does the focus all come back to Bryzgalov? Because of the franchise shutout streak that he just broke that stood tall for 13 years midway through the second period.
Another late game collapse brings heart break to many Islanders fan. The Islanders held a 3 goal lead with just over a period left in the game and still managed to lose in the game in a shoot out. (Photo Credit Flickr/ Clydeorama)
There's John Tavares with 66 points, just one goal/point shy of tying his career high from last season; there's Matt Moulson with 58 points, continuing his increased season output this season so far by five points; and of course there is P.A. Parenteau with 61 points, having the best season of his NHL career being tied for fifth in the league for assists (46) with Evgeni Malkin. And after that?
Well there's Mark Streit with 36 points, likely to finish 10 points less than he did two years ago. Streit has had his most disappointing season in an Islanders uniform. He's a -23 and only has two power play goals this year. He had nine and ten in his previous two seasons, respectively.
There lies your biggest problem heading into the end of the season. The Islanders offense was expected to be one of the team's bright sides going into 2012. To the contrary, they have the third worst offense in the NHL and have suffered a major drought when it's come to secondary scoring.
New York, NY- After suffering a heartbreaking loss Saturday night at the Coliseum the Islanders entered the Garden last with their hopes of making the playoffs almost in shreds. Although the playoffs are looking almost out of reach, a win last night, against the Rangers, could have spun the Islanders' momentum back in their favor and kept them within nine points of the final seed. (Photo Credit: AP/Kathy Kmonicek)
The game started off as what seemed would be a defensive battle, the teams combined for three shots in the first five minutes of play. The Rangers would eventually go on to out shoot the Islanders 11-5 in the period but that would not reflect on the scoreboard. Just 2:!4 into the game the Ranger-Islander rivalry lived up to its hype as the Rangers' Stu Bickel and the Islanders' Michael Haley squared off at center ice and had a go.
The playoffs might be further out of sight, and the reality that the Islanders aren't a playoff team has become more and more apparent with every weakening loss, but this is not the time to "fail for Nail."
Nail Yakupov is considered to be the obvious choice for the number one overall pick in the 2012 NHL Entry Draft. The 19-year old Russian sniper scored 101 points (49 goals, 52 assists) in 65 games played for the Sarnia Sting of the OHL. He currently has 31 goals and 37 assists for 68 points for Sarnia and is a +14. The Islanders, like every other team in the NHL, could certainly benefit from having another scoring winger added to their line-up.
So why do I say that the Islanders shouldn't look to drop in the Eastern Conference standings?
It's still a long shot, but the Islanders have pulled themselves back into playoff conversations with a 1-0 win yesterday over the New Jersey Devils that has put them within five points of the last spot in the Eastern Conference. But even so, there are plenty of questions that surround the New York Islanders hockey club, ranging from the uncertain future of the arena to whether or not Tim Horton's will ever return to the concession stands. The most important questions, the ones that impact the immediate future, are the ones that need to be answered first; GM Garth Snow has to figure out where certain players will fit on his roster as the rebuild pushes forward.
I've already talked about the possibility of Evgeni Nabokov re-signing with the Islanders, as well as teammate P.A. Parenteau returning in an orange and blue sweater. But Snow will have to take a long look at some of his current regulars and decide where they fit with the team long term as some young, fresh faces are pushing for NHL jobs.
It is still a long shot, but the Islanders have once again pulled themselves into playoff conversation with a 1-0 win over the New Jersey Devils. Kyle Okposo scored the lone goal for the Isles while Anders Nilsson earned his first NHL win with a 24-save shutout performance that earned him first star honors on the night.
"Today I think all the guys out there put up a great job for me," said Nilsson. "The first two periods, I only had 12 shots and they blocked a lot of shots and when they got a shot through it was from the boards. They made it real easy for me to play out there today. They helped me out a lot."
Okposo concurred with Nilsson's belief that the Islanders played one of their best defensive games of the year, rivaling their previous defensive win over the Boston Bruins the night before.
The New York Islanders earned two points against the Boston Bruins at the TD Garden before starting a three game series with the New Jersey Devils. Josh Bailey, Matt Moulson, and John Tavares all scored for the Islanders who picked up their first win since last Friday's 4-3 shootout victory against the New York Rangers. With the victory, the Isles moved within 7 points of the East's eighth playoff spot, but the standings are subject to change since New York played an early afternoon contest.
While the New York Islanders must be content with the effort that they put forth against the Bruins, the team knows they have a tough challenge to face when they play their first of three games against the Devils in less than 24 hours. Evgeni Nabokov might get the nod for his second start in two days as he did not look too tired during the post-game conference and was very sharp against a Bruins team that put up 34 shots on goal. Even though Nabokov came under siege at times, he was equal to the task and made some brilliant saves at key points of the contest.