The Islanders took on the Toronto Maple Leafs on Friday night in both teams final game before the holiday break. With the loss to the Rangers on Thursday night, the Islanders were definitely lacking confidence and it showed.
The Isles faced a Maple Leafs team who are having a pretty good season so far. Even with some injury...
The Islanders are heading into the Big Apple to face their archrivals, the New York Rangers. Coming off back-to-back shootout wins (courtesy of Frans Neilsen and his patented forehand-backhand-top shelf move), the young Isles team is carrying a bit of momentum into the World’s Greatest Arena. They are playing with more confidence and finding ways to win hockey games.
This is a good thing. Because they will need every ounce of momentum, confidence, skill, (and maybe even a little luck) to leave Madison Square Garden with 2 points against the Rangers in tonight’s contest.
The Rangers (with 3 games in hand) are currently tied for 2nd in the Atlantic Division with the Pittsburgh Penguins, as they each have managed 42 points so far this season.
The New York Islanders will take on the Minnesota Wild tonight. The Islanders have been playing well lately, staying in every game they’ve played since breaking their long losing streak almost a month ago. Despite a 4-0-2 stretch which saw the young Isles climb back up the standings, their most recent games, regardless of their improved play, have not yielded the type of success they have needed in the standings. They have walked away from recent games where 2 points was well within their grasp.
There are many stages to a rebuild, and the Islanders seem to be on the right track for a slow, steady, and successful one. We saw this season during their long losing streak, that unlike last season when they took the ice for each game with a look of despair, that this team comes out of the locker room hungry and expecting to win every time they play.
The next lesson that this young group needs to learn is simple: Finish Games.
The Islanders inability to score with the man-advantage and stay out of the penalty box would be the story for tonight's 3-2 loss to the visiting Dallas Stars. The Isles were 0-3 on the power play, two of which came at crucial moments where they needed to tie the game. Throw in their continuous trips to the sin bin and you have yourself a recipe for a poorly played hockey game.
The Islanders, who are boasting the worst offense in the league with only a dismal 59 goals for (the second worst team is the L.A. Kings with 63), were heavily criticized for one specific thing over the past three months; not scoring enough goals. (Shocking, right?)
After being shutout several times this year, the Isles were becoming a one-trick pony; if the line of Moulson-Tavares-Parenteau wasn't scoring, then there wasn't anything to worry about if you were the opposing team. However, the Isles have been on a recent streak after coming away with points in their past six games played.
Friday night's game against the Chicago Blackhawks was arguably the most exciting game the Islanders have played in all season. The Islanders came into this game looking for their third straight win but came out with a well deserved point.
The Chicago native Al Montoya was the one chosen by Jack Capuano to start for the Isles. Montoya, playing in his third straight game, made some unbelievable saves throughout the whole matchup. Facing the Islanders was the 26 year old Corey Crawford.
But enough about the goaltenders, let's talk about the offense. It was a real positive to see the Islanders scoring creative goals. Poking at rebounds and capitalizing on special teams. In past games, the Isles have used the dump and chase method, which obviously has not been working. It was great to see players go to the next and try to make a play instead of players just throwing the puck at the net and hoping for the best.
Chicago's penalty kill has not been the best this season and the Islanders definitely capitalized, scoring two goals with the man advantage. But the Blackhawks had their share of capitalizing on special teams as well. Chicago was able to score a powerplay goal and a shorthanded goal against the Isles.
The goalscorers for the Islanders tonight were Kyle Okposo, Matt Moulson, PA Parenteau, and scoring his first goal of the season was Nino Niederreiter. Focusing on Okposo, it really seems as if he is in his required game shape. He is making plays and hustling much better than he had in the beginning of the season.
The Blackhawks offense never quits either; with goals coming from Andrew Brunette, Ben Smith, Jonathan Toews, and Patrick Sharp.
So it came down to a shootout. Jonathan Toews was lone scorer and was able to claim victory over the New York Islanders, 5-4.
If the Islanders can play the way they have played in the last week for the rest of the season, they will be in good shape.
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In yet another of a seemingly endless string of low scoring affairs, the Islanders went to Buffalo on Tuesday night and shuffled out of town with a win.
The Islanders, who hadn't won consecutive road affairs since March, were bouyed by the fine (and sometimes downright spectacular) play of Al Montoya.
Montoya, who improved his season's numbers to a 2.07 Goals Against Average and .933 save percentage, has clearly established himself as the best goalie employed on Long Island. For head coach Jack Capuano to even consider starting Rick DiPietro ahead of him at this point is laughable.
It took a power play after a hi-sticking call against Buffalo (you're going to...