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.
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 was only a few short weeks ago that the Montreal Canadiens and their contingent of rowdy fans stormed into the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum and halted an Islanders 4 game-winning streak with a 3-1 victory. Fast-forward to tonight and the Islanders (30-13-1) are on another 4 game winning streak, and once again are set to square off against the Canadiens (27-13-3). Only difference is, the Isles and their raucous supporters are traveling north of the border looking to extend the streak to 5.
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.
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.