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.
The Islanders will host the Chicago Blackhawks Saturday night at the Nassau Coliseum as they will look to snap their three-game losing streak. It will be a daunting task for the Isles against the Central Division-leading Blackhawks who bring a 20-8-1 record into tonight's matchup.
Man, it only took a couple of days to wipe out so many of the good feelings built up through the first eight weeks of the season. The question is now being asked by many: is it time for the Islanders to push the panic button?
It was only a few short days ago Islander fans and media alike were waxing poetic about the “special” season taking place over in Uniondale. The team was going to close out its time at the Nassau Coliseum with one final hoorah for the fans.
Despite the recent success of the Islanders, there is still a major hole that needs to be filled within the team’s lineup.
John Tavares and Kyle Okposo have been the undisputed top two forwards on this team for the past year. Currently, Tavares and Okposo are tied for the team lead in points with 24 each in 27 games played. However, the third member of the top line is not even close.
It’s good to root for the New York Islanders now. The team is humming along at 19-7-0, atop the Metropolitan Division, one point off the top of the league. Even the most optimistic of Islander fans could not have predicted this tear the team has been on. It’s been a fun two-month ride to start the season, a feeling that has been absent all too often in recent years.
While people have (rightfully) given large amounts of credit for their success to new-comers like Jaroslav Halak, Nick Leddy, and Johnny Boychuk, is it time to finally give coach Jack Capuano a little love?
Michael Grabner has been activated off the injured reserve and is close to making his debut in the Islanders line-up this season. He was seen this morning practicing with Frans Nielsen and Mikhail Grabovski, although it has yet to be confirmed if this is the line he will be playing with tomorrow night when they visit the Ottawa Senators for the second half of a home-and-home match-up.
Where Grabner would fit has come into question, given that the current line-up has done very well this season (18-7-0).
The New York Islanders played in a packed house filled with two fan bases that were seething with animosity towards one another. In previous years, a visiting division rival fan base would overtake the Coliseum and diminish most “Let’s Go Islanders” chants.
Not this year.
On a night where the team was honoring Islanders legend, Denis Potvin, Isles fans quickly extinguished the chants from New Jersey fans and drowned out their support (as well as throw in many other chants as well) with ease as the home team fought for a 3-1 victory in front of a sold out Nassau Coliseum crowd.